Use bus capes (bus boarders) to reduce delays for buses re-entering traffic stream and improve the comfort for the passengers
The bus stop design has a remarkable impact on bus operation, e.g. on the commercial speed of the service. Basically, the following designs can be distinguished (Figure 2‑8):
A bus stop by the kerb is the usual type of bus stop, and this makes it possible for traffic to pass the bus while it is at the bus stop. The design is simple and it is easy to fit in to any street. However, problems sometimes are that some parking spaces by the kerb have to be removed in order for the bus to access the stop, and also this kind of stop does not give buses any priority. Buses can also sometimes have problems entering the bus stop if cars have been parked too close to the bus stop. Also, each location needs special attention in terms of traffic safety (e.g. to avoid overtaking by cars where this can endanger alighting passengers).
Lay-by bus stops are often provided, to enable buses to stop outwith the traffic stream, and to eliminate the obstruction of other traffic by stationary buses. However, on busy roads, particularly where traffic is moving constantly, it is often difficult for buses to then re-enter the traffic stream. Because of this there is a common tendency for drivers not to pull fully into the lay-by. This can cause inconvenience to passengers, particularly during heavy rain when kerbside gutters may be running with water. It can also cause problems for elderly and disabled passengers.
A bus cape is built in order to help the bus to access the bus stop (also called ‘bus boarders’ or 'bus bulbs'). Bus capes give priority to buses, because buses do not have to wait for a gap in car traffic when leaving the stop. With a bus cape, the bus does not have to make a sideways movement in order to access the bus stop. On a street with only one line of traffic in each direction, the traffic behind the bus normally has to stop while the bus is at the bus stop. The type of bus stop is especially advantageous on a trunk bus line and on other important parts of the bus system. Other effects are that it allows more parking spaces for cars, provides a shorter bus stop area, calms traffic, decreases the risk of illegal car parking, and provides room for bus shelters, bicycle racks, etc. Two bus capes opposite each other (1 bus wide) provide for safety, e.g. at schools. Bus capes should not be used if the traffic flow is heavy or if the stop time is long.
Figure 2-8: Lay-by bus stop (left), bus cape (middle) and bus stop at the kerb (right)
Boston (UK): The town of Boston, Lincolnshire, (population 55,000) has recently introduced a new urban bus network called "InTo Town" with three routes, and as part of that new bus capes and bus shelters have been installed on a road in the town centre that was previously unserved by buses.
Münster (Germany): The city of Münster is continuously rearranging lay-by bus stops to bus capes, with careful consideration of the general traffic situation at the respective location. The share of bus capes among all bus stops with explicitly built infrastructure is about 13% (2004: 9%). Münster was among the first cities in Germany to gain experiences with bus capes. The city has about 270,000 inhabitants.