Buses or trolleybuses, as the basis of a public transport, are relied upon by all cities where there are no trams or even a metro. They are popular because they can fit into common streets and their operation is quite simple. These advantages, however, immediately turn into disadvantages. As they go through the same streets, they share the same problems that the car drivers face. Impassable intersections, delays, accidents.
To prevent public transport from losing its passengers, it cannot only stand by unfavourable development. It must offer better travelling around a city – in the manner of time, finances, ecology – preferably in multiple views at once. Therefore, urban transport corridors are emerging in European cities. They want to be not only faster, but also more comfortable, more accessible, more visible. Because the main reason is the person who decides whether to go by “urban” today.
Public transport corridor combines various measures, ranging from above-standard equipment of stops to modern and capacity vehicles, favouring the passage of public transport through intersections, to safe pedestrian crossings. All these measures are concentrated into one route, so we speak about a corridor. These measures can be prepared gradually, by various actors, but they are effective only in their interaction. This is therefore not a costly investment, but a combination of commonly available measures into one working unit.
Public transport corridors can be found today in more than thirty cities in the UK. These are not always large metropolises, but also cities like České Budějovice. The contribution of the corridors was an increase in the number of passengers by 10 to 20%. Surveys show that satisfaction with public transport services has improved considerably. Last but not least, the accident rate on the corridors has decreased. Corridors also operate in nine French cities, reaching 91 kilometres in length, and another 22 cities have been preparing their projects…
We could continue with examples from Sweden, Spain or Germany.
The intention to implement the Public Transport Corridor in České Budějovice has already raised the attention of the professional public. It has been presented at several conferences dedicated to public transport. České Budějovice has become the first city in the Czech Republic, where public transport corridors serve both the residents and visitors of the city. Preferential measures for the public transport in České Budějovice have been met with professional acceptance…
Part of the Public Transport Corridor route was already modified in 2012. During the reconstruction of Žižkova třída, the existing stop ŽIŽKOVA-VŠERS was moved to the new stop SENOVÁŽNÉ NÁMĚSTÍ-POŠTA. Part of Žižkova třída between Senovážné Square and Čechova Street underwent a complete reconstruction.
During the year 2015, Husova třída street and Mariánské Square were transformed with a new solution to the organisation of transport. New stops “U Koníčka” were built. All adjustments aim at increasing the quality standards – accelerating and improving the availability of public transport
In the summer of 2016, there was a major reconstruction of the area in front of the train station and a change in the organisation of transport in this traffic junction. Another important element of the corridor has been fulfilled, which is especially beneficial for more efficient management of public transport routes and improvement of pedestrian conditions. In the autumn, a new pedestrian crossing in Husova Street near the Exhibition Grounds and the reconstruction of public transport stops took place.
In the modernisation of the onboard control systems, all public transport vehicles will be equipped with devices for communication with intersection controllers to enable dynamic preference. Exits from Jan Opletal Street will be made easier by new traffic lights. In co-ordination with the reconstruction of the intersection of the streets Husova and Na Dlouhé louce, an important BUS strip will be created in the direction towards the centre.
The current situation is bad. Neither cars nor public transport can go well through the city. However, the situation would be much worse if other passengers renounced the public transport and drive to the city by car. Then no motorways or other roads for hundreds of millions of crowns would help. That is why the city must strive for public transport to be attractive for a large share of the city’s population. For passengers on the Public Transport Corridor, the traffic situation will improve. Not only concerning the speed of transport but also availability, which are the two most important factors. Just for information, this concerns almost 36,000 people in Na Sadech Street per day, with 21,000 passengers on Dlouhý most bridge.
If all current users remain driving a car, then the current intensity would really split among other streets of the city. Everything has been tested in the transport model, so we know that the growth of traffic can be expected in Pekárenská, Mánesova or Na Dlouhé louce streets. However, many public transport lines do not run in these streets, and that is the crucial difference. The most important public transport routes will be led through streets which will be out of the worst problems. Traffic jams will not disappear, but they will be in places where the impact on public transport will not be as fatal as today. If it is motivational for people to use it, it will also have an impact on the overall traffic situation in the city.
The traffic intensities on the road diversions are already known from the transport model of the city. In the east of the city, thanks to the Zanádražní Road, the loads will be distributed evenly – some of the vehicles will pass through the new underpass to Pekárenská Street, part of them will remain in Rudolfovská Street and the remaining part will choose Mánesova Street – the city centre will be bypassed from the south. From the west of the city, we expect that instead of driving through the centre, part of the drivers will choose Pekárenská Street and Zanádražní Road, and then again Mánesova Street.
So there are more adequate routes available. The capacity of intersections will be increased on these routes – e.g. Pražská × Pekárenská (multiple lanes), Pražská × Husova (bypass of the right turn, added lanes for public transport) or Mánesova × Lidická (redevelopment prepared by the South Bohemian Region).
The list of measures underwent selection in order to leave only such items that have a clear benefit. A large part of the budget is taken up by infrastructure investments – public transport stops, pedestrian crossings and intersection adjustments. However, it is exclusively about investments that remove specific (point) problems and improve the use of street space as a whole. Another important package is the introduction of communication between public transport vehicles and intersections. This will significantly increase the possibilities of telematics in the city. Existing intersection controllers as well as the traffic control centre will be used. Any intersection can be equipped, not only those on the Public Transport Corridor. However, a number of other measures are very simple and inexpensive (for example, changing the signs), while speeding up traffic at intersections. In general, compared to the investment in new buildings, the budget of the Public Transport Corridor is very efficient.
The decision is up to every individual. There will always be a choice between public transport and other modes of transport. However, the Public Transport Corridor will offer very interesting travel times and a large number of connections from estates to the city centre to convince passengers to use the public transport. This does not have to be true in all cases, but for example when travelling through the city centre, which is most problematic today, and where the impact of the Public Transport Corridor will be strongest.
Public transport passengers will feel the result most, but other users will also see it. For example, pedestrians will more easily cross Husova třída (Exhibition Grounds, u ratolesti), Žižkova třída or Nádražní Street in the area between the bus and train stations. Car drivers will have shorter waiting times at the intersections of Mariánské Square or Na Sadech × Rudolfovská, a direct exit from the Mercury car park in Nádražní Street, repaired roads in the Máj housing estate or new parking spaces in Žižkova třída.
The Public Transport Corridor follows the route from the right bank of the Vltava River to the left one over Dlouhý most bridge, where serious problems in traffic fluency arise. Most lines on this route serve Máj and Šumava estates, so the Corridor is heading there. At the same time, however, there are other important destinations such as the University Campus, the Exhibition Grounds, the city centre (Poliklinika Sever, Senovážné Square) and the transport junction at the railway station.
The implementation of the Corridor at this stage does not preclude the further stages extending towards the north or south of the city. In the first phase, other lines serving other parts of the city will also benefit from the Public Transport Corridor measures, as their route intersects with the Public Transport Corridor.
The aim of the Public Transport Corridor is to keep to the timetable in rush hours and prevent delays. For example, Line 3 from Máj to Nádraží (Trains Station) means that the trip will actually take 19 minutes. When we convert it to average cruising speed, we get 18 km/h and this is a good value compared to other cities. Today’s condition is that the trip normally takes 30 minutes and the average speed drops to 11 km/h.