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Home World In medium-sized cities, the success of buses disguised as a tramway

In medium-sized cities, the success of buses disguised as a tramway

The "high level of service" collective vehicles are at the top of the list in the 2020 municipal elections.

By Olivier Razemon Posted today at 06h21, updated at 06:21

Time to Reading 5 min.

Subscribers article

The Febus, high-level bus service from Pau.
The Febus, high-level bus service from Pau. JULIEN GAUBERT / AGGLOMERATION PAU PYRENNES

The year before the municipal elections follows a particular calendar. It is at this time that the mayors proceed with the inaugurations of the major infrastructures, notably of transport, which they carried during the preceding campaign; 2019 is no exception, except that this year, elected officials will mainly inaugurate buses.

But beware, not just any bus. In medium-sized cities, the "high-level service bus" – "BHNS", as specialists say – has become trendy. The vehicle looks more like a tramway than a classic urban bus: elongated shape, even thinned, hidden wheels under the body, delivered in the colors of the city. In short, it's a bus disguised as a tram.

Away from the general circulation

Travelers enter through all the doors, not just the front, the lighting is softened, the heating or air conditioning are well distributed and a voice shines the name of the stations. The floor of the vehicle is at the same level as the sidewalk, which is actually a dock. Each station is equipped with ticket dispensers, benches, and sometimes sheltered from bad weather. A light panel indicates the next bus passes.

Read also Anne Hidalgo buries free public transport in Paris

The line itself is laid out down to the smallest detail. It usually has a dedicated lane, away from the general traffic, and the lights automatically turn green when the bus approaches a junction. Sometimes the line crosses a roundabout in a straight line, which avoids the passengers to suffer the jolts caused by the turns taken at high speed.

"The BHNS is the subway of medium-sized cities, says Marc Perez, a TTK mobility consultancy based in Karlsruhe (Germany) and Lyon. In Europe, it's a French specificity. In German cities, the allocation of bus lanes is a less common practice. "

Regularity and savings

The first examples of this mode of transport date from the 1970s, in the north and in the south of the American continent. The Rapid Transit Bus (BRT) in Ottawa, Canada's capital, has been in existence since 1973.

The integrated transport network of Curitiba, 2 million inhabitants, in southern Brazil, is a model; The buses have dedicated lanes and covered stations on each of the eight lines, which are more like stations than bus stops.

In France, the first BHNS conquered the big cities with the Trans-Val-de-Marne, put into service in 1993, then lines to Lyon, Nantes or Rouen. But this mode is now becoming popular in medium-sized cities. The communities even give the bus names that refer to the local history, that the population will easily remember: Fébus in Pau, Möbius, named after the comic book author, in Angoulême, or Nemo in Amiens, where died Jules Verne.


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