Access Control


Access Control can be used to ensure that only public transport vehicles and other authorised vehicles can enter a specific facility or zone. Access control is provided:

  • For safety reasons, where only public transport vehicles should use a facility
  • For operational reasons, when only authorised buses should use a facility
  • Where public transport vehicles are given an exemption to access a restricted area, and a means is required to keep other vehicles out
  • For security reasons

Typical locations where access is controller include:

  • Entry point to busway
  • Entry point to pedestrian zone or traffic limited zone, where public transport are permitted to enter
  • Operational entrance to bus terminals and stations
  • Entrance to depots

Access may be restricted according to:

  • Any public transport vehicle
  • Public transport vehicles of specified types
  • Public transport vehicles in service on scheduled routes
  • Public transport vehicle on specified routes
  • Public transport vehicles belonging to specified operators

Access control can be implemented in three ways:

  • Physical barrier, such as a gate or retractable bollards (often combined with signal)
  • Signal
  • Camera-monitored (i.e. deterrence) – see application “Facility Violation monitoring”

The basic mode of operation is that a vehicle approaches the control point and is detected. If the vehicle meets the access criteria, the barrier is temporarily lowered/raised and/or the signal gives a green light. The vehicle passes through, and the barrier is reset and/or the signal reverts to red.

Depending on the mode of authorisation and operation, and on safety considerations, public transport vehicles may be required to slow or to stop at the entry point.

The requirement to slow/stop, and the cost of the equipment and installation works means that such access control facilities are usually only implemented where they are essential.

Technologies, data and resources

The main technologies used for access control are:

  • Physical barriers
    • Retractable bollards
    • Retractable ramps
    • Raisable barriers (railway-crossing gates or similar)
  • Stop/go signals. These are usually stand-alone signals or they are linked to the CAD/AVM system or the security system. They are not usually linked to the general urban traffic control system.
  • Vehicle detection technologies
    • Induction loops
    • Radar, with vehicle profile capability
    • Roadway or roadside transponders, with counterpart equipment on the vehicles
    • Location data and authorisation from the CAD/AVM system
    • Smart card or other pass, for actuation by the driver
    • Cameras with image capture and optionally with automatic number place recognition

Advantages and Cautions

The primary advantages of Access Control for public transport vehicles are to:

  • Provide an efficient means of preventing unauthorised access to public transport facilities
  • Improve safety, both on high-speed facilities and in locations of potential vehicle-pedestrian conflict
  • Facilitate public transport vehicles to enter zones prohibited to other traffic, especially pedestrian and shopping areas in the Central Business District (CBD)
  • Facilitate public transport vehicles to enter traffic calming areas, without compromising the effectiveness of the traffic calming

The principal cautions in relation to Access Control for public transport vehicles are:

  • Equipment, installation and maintenance costs can be relatively high for barrier-based systems.
  • If barriers fail to open correctly, they will block the route and can cause significant operational disruption. Barrier-based systems need to have high reliability, good maintenance, and rapid call-out and repair for faults.
  • Good working relationships are required with the traffic authorities and community groups

Relevant Case Studies

Not observed in the Case Studies

Relevant examples in Brussels, Belgium; Cork, Ireland