While the Pulse buses will be sharing the road with general traffic, technology will give Pulse buses an advantage. To shorten travel times on the new Pulse service and make it an efficient and reliable travel option for passengers, Pace is implementing a transit signal priority (TSP) system along all of its planned Pulse lines.
TSP enables the bus’s on-board computer to communicate with the traffic signal system without any action taken by the bus driver. The TSP system will allow the traffic signal network to shorten red lights and extend green lights to give buses an advantage and keep them on a reliable schedule. Pulse passengers will be able to get to their destinations on time.
TSP allows buses that are running late to get back on schedule and improve travel times. However, Pulse buses will always be given a lower priority than emergency vehicles, and the traffic signal system will only change signal light times for buses if the change does not significantly interfere with other traffic. The engineering work required to implement TSP also provides for improved overall traffic flow on the corridor, even when a bus isn’t present, because of the interconnection of signals and timing improvements. In all, these technologies greatly improve the travel experience for bus drivers and auto drivers alike.
Pace’s regional TSP program, with support from IDOT and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), already shortens travel times by up to 20% on bus routes in Harvey, South Holland, Dolton, Waukegan, Berwyn and Cicero. TSP is currently anticipated to be operational on Milwaukee Avenue by the end of 2016, before the planned launch of the Pulse Milwaukee Line in 2017.