Faster, Cleaner, Accessible and Connected – The Future of Buses and Development in the UK

The Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation (CIHT) launched a new guidance document earlier this year, Buses in Urban Developments, that set out the importance of good spatial planning and infrastructure design in the provision of successful and high quality bus services.

Against a backdrop of falling bus use in the UK, it is clear that transport professionals must understand how to design and plan for buses and assist in developing successful services.

The guidance document has been welcomed by both bus operators and Local Transport Authorities and is useful reading for all engineers, planning consultants, transport planners and other professionals involved in the UK public transport and development industry.

The central approach of both planning at the outset for buses and carefully considering how new and existing infrastructure can be served by bus, is not a new one. It is an approach that Curtins also pursue through our advice relating to residential development. Preparing designs that encourage areas of dense development; and easily accessible bus stops, that sustain direct and timely bus services.

Direct and efficient bus services are very important and as planners we look at schemes where they can be served by extensions to existing bus services or where new services can provide direct and fast routes to the town centre and other major destinations. We agree that the outline street layout should be planned to allow direct and fast bus services that are both efficient for the operator and attractive to passengers. Tortuous routes and long loops should be avoided whenever possible.

The CIHT document sets out detailed road geometry guidance that can be used to achieve adequate widths on bus routes so that buses do not have to slow down to pass one another or travel over speed reducing features.

Walking distances to bus stops and hubs are also set out in the CIHT document and Curtins use transport accessibility tools (such as Visography TRACC) to design new developments with sufficient density to facilitate direct walking links within the prescribed distances to bus stops. TRACC can factor for accurate walking distances, gradients and walking speeds.

Providing an attractive route to the bus stop can be achieved through the use of landscaping and wide footway access, creating a more pleasant experience for bus users. Access routes must be designed for use by people of all abilities, so the careful design and application of appropriate infrastructure (such as kerb units) is essential.

In an increasingly connected world, the design and planning of physical connections from the places that we work, rest and play to the places where public transport is available still remain critically important and this document helps all involved consider how we can achieve high quality services that will be used.

For more information please contact Scott Goodall on