The objective of this research was to describe transit priority techniques in Zürich and understand how the city implemented its program. Most transit priority improvements are relatively simple and inexpensive; however, they have proved to be difficult to implement and sustain. The research effort consisted of a case study with interviews and surveys. We interviewed many persons associated with the development and implementation of Zürich’s transit priority program. A survey to evaluate support of transportation decision-makers in Santa Clara County, California, illustrated transit improvements in a typical U.S. city. The data was compared to a similar survey in Zürich. The findings help us to understand how elected officials think about transit improvements. Zürich is famous for the quality of its public transit system and it has one of the highest levels of per capita transit ridership in the world. This is because its transit service is fast, frequent, reliable, and inexpensive, due in large part to its transit priority program. The research describes transit priority techniques implemented in Zürich and discusses the relevance of the Zürich experience to other cities interested in developing similar systems, highlighting the unique benefits and challenges of a transit priority system. Transit priority improvements are relatively low-cost ways to make a transit system work better by reducing vehicle delays. Specific improvements fall in the following categories: roadway improvements and traffic regulations, traffic signal preemption, exclusive transit lanes, transit malls, transit system operations, transportation system improvements, major transit facilities, and bus rapid transit. Zürich’s experience offers valuable insight to the process of developing and sustaining a transit priority system. These insights include: the importance of public support, planning land use to support transit use, implementing improvements comprehensively, interdepartment coordination, leveraging institutional change, and adopting appropriate technology. Ultimately, what is important is that Zürich’s transportation system is a major contributor to the city’s high quality of life and livability. Cities interested in implementing transit priority systems can learn much from Zürich’s experience and be encouraged by its success.

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Publication Type



Transit Issues

MTI Project



Congestion, policy, Rapid transit, Roadway improvements, Traffic, Traffic regulations, Transit, Transit lanes, Transportation