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Transit priority

Transit priority measures are techniques designed to minimize delays to buses at intersections and along congested roads ensuring a faster commute time for passengers. The success of public transit requires an efficient system of mobility that can accommodate the needs of travellers.

Queue jump with advance stop bar

The queue jump with advance stop bar allows transit vehicles to pull ahead of regular traffic that is stopped at an intersection. Stop lines are located back from the intersection. Vehicles stop further back from the intersection, which allows transit vehicles the opportunity to pull in front of the traffic.

An example of the queue jump can be found at:

  • Albert Street and Empress Avenue

queue jump

Ramp connection

The system of ramp connections allows transit riders to make connections from buses traveling along the Queensway. The access ramps allow buses to enter and exit the Queensway to make stops at intersecting north – south routes. The access ramps are for transit vehicles only.

Access ramp

Signal priority

Signal priority allows buses to arrive and travel through intersections with little or no delay. Detectors identify and distinguish buses from other vehicles. The detectors then give priority to the buses by manipulating the traffic lights to give the buses a green light. Presently there are 30 intersections set up for signal priority.

Signal priority allows buses to arrive and travel through intersections with little or no delay.

The detectors then give priority to the buses

Transit priority signal indicator

The transit priority signal allows transit vehicles to enter intersections ahead of other traffic. A separate signal located within the traffic light alerts the transit vehicle that it can enter the intersection. This “cigar signal” allows the transit vehicle to jump the queue and enter the intersection first. It creates the necessary space for the bus to merge into regular traffic.

Examples of the indicator can be found at the intersections of:

  • Woodroffe Avenue and Meadowlands Drive
  • Woodroffe Avenue and Knoxdale Road

Red light, all circulation stops

The transit priority signal allows transit vehicles to enter intersections ahead of other traffic.

Green light

Demand for service indicating system (DSIS)

At stops equipped with DSIS, commuters push a button that alerts approaching buses to exit the freeway and make a pick up. If the bus approaches the intersection and no alert is received, the bus is able to continue traveling on the freeway without having to exit.

Examples can be found at:

  • Queensway eastbound off ramp at Moodie Drive
  • Regional Road 174 eastbound off ramp at Montreal Road

Demand for Service Indicating System (DSIS)

Freeway shoulder bus lanes

Presently, bus shoulder lanes on the Queensway provide fast and reliable transit service. The lanes provide transit vehicles with their own specific lane that cannot be used by other vehicles. In Ottawa's west end the shoulder lanes stretch form Moodie Drive to Eagleson Road. In the east end bus shoulder lanes are on Regional Road 174 between Blair Road and Place d'Orléans.

As illustrated below, 2 buses at full capacity can carry more passengers than 60 cars in 2 other lanes of traffic.

Buses in bus lane

Left turn from curb lane

Where left turn lanes are congested, buses are allowed to make left turns from the curb lane. Lane designation signs and special turning provisions help keep transit vehicles moving efficiently.

Examples can be found at:

  • Earl Mulligan Drive and Woodroffe Avenue
  • Colonnade Road and Merivale Road
  • Leiken Drive and Merivale Road
  • Kakulu Road and Eagleson Road

Why do we need public transit?

For financial and environmental reasons the City of Ottawa cannot build its way out of congestion. For our transportation system to sustain future growth we must use road space and transit facilities more efficiently and we must become less car dependent.

40 commuters by bus require much less road space than 40 commuters by car.

traffic jam depicting two long lines of cars

single bus

Why do we need transit priority?

Transit priority allows public transit to be a more attractive and viable option for commuters. Buses freed from congestion and on schedule provide an efficient mode of transportation. Creating a suitable choice of transportation for the public will ensure fewer cars on the road and among the benefits is a healthier city.

Transit service slowed by congestion is counterproductive.

Traffic congestion

Yield to bus

Let the bus back in. It's the law, as of January 2, 2004.


When you see a bus signaling to re-enter your lane from a bus stop, you must let the bus back into your lane, unless it is unsafe to do so. This has always been a courtesy. As of January 2, 2004, it is the law in Ontario. When you see the Yield to Bus sign on the back of the bus, it is there to remind you to let the bus back in.

For more information

Interprovincial Transit Strategy

Transit services in Gatineau and Ottawa affect both riders and non-riders, notably in the downtown cores. In order to better integrate transit services and promote ridership, the National Capital Commission conducted the Interprovincial Transit Strategy. The Strategy is a collaborative effort led by the National Capital Commission (NCC), and funded in partnership with Société de transport de l'Outaouais (STO) and the City of Ottawa, with participation by the City of Gatineau.

Gatineau and Ottawa together form the National Capital Region, which shares community and economic ties independent of their geographic borders. As both the Ontario and Quebec sides of the region undergo population and employment growth, the Strategy identifies solutions to move people more easily and efficiently in and through city cores, and explore the challenges and opportunities of our current and future transit systems in delivering an interprovincial service.

The Study report recommends strategies and actions to collaboratively move toward more continuous and connected interprovincial transit in the short, medium and long terms. The study process included extensive consultations with stakeholders and the public.

This study was in response to the clear need for strategic direction that increases the benefits, efficiency and relevance of interprovincial transit through a more integrated, connected and continuous network.

Joint Interprovincial Transit Integration Strategic Planning Study