In-lane (also called ‘in-line’) bus stops enable public transport to stop within traffic lanes rather than needing to exit and re-enter the traffic lane. In-lane bus stops are often achieved through use of bus boarders, which are arrangements where the kerb line is extended outwards for a bus stop.

In-lane (also called ‘in-line’) bus stops enable public transport to stop within traffic lanes. Traditional kerbside bus stops require buses to exit the traffic lane and manoeuvre into a kerbside bus box. This delays buses due to manoeuvring time and the need wait for a gap to re-enter the traffic stream. In some cases, particularly when lead-in and lead-out space is inadequate, drivers may not pull in close to the kerb, resulting in access issues, particularly for people with constrained mobility. In-lane bus stops eliminate these sources of delays for buses and improve the ability for the bus to reach the kerb line, making it easier for people using wheelchairs or with prams to get on and off the bus. They can also provide other benefits such as reduced parking loss and better footpath operation.

While in-lane bus stops do require private vehicles to wait behind the buses when they stop at bus stops, this (usually small) delay is often outweighed by benefits to bus passengers. Despite the public’s concerns, there is usually little actual impact on general traffic flow, especially on lower volume roads and in main urban and suburban centres where managing general traffic speed is important. More information about benefits and implementation guidance is provided further down this page.

In-lane bus stops are usually achieved though bus boarders, which are arrangements where the kerb line is extended outwards for a bus stop (see the figure below). Typically, the bus boarder replaces roadway that would otherwise be for parking or a traffic lane.

Full width bus boarder in Auckland. (Source: Thomas Chu)

Bus boarders can be full width (minimum 2m wide) or half width (about 0.5–1.5m wide).

Full-width bus boarders (see the figures above and below) require the shortest kerbside length of all the layouts. Lead-in and lead-out space is not usually needed, only the length of the marked bus stop box itself (15m which includes ample room for bike rack deployment).

Full-width bus boarder for a single standard 13.5m-long tag-axle bus. (Source: Auckland Transport) View larger image [JPG, 42 KB]

Half-width boarders need a lead-in length of about 11m and lead-out of about 6m (see the figures below)

Half-width bus boarders are often a useful compromise solution when:

  • frequent delays to other vehicles must be avoided
  • a full-width boarder would place the bus too close to the opposing traffic stream
  • there is on-road provision for cyclists.

The length of the bus boarder along the outer kerb line should correspond to the length of the bus stop box. Where kerbside space is restricted, consider a shorter bus boarder platform, but it should usually measure a minimum of 9–10m along the outer kerb line to allow access to both sets of bus doors.

Designers can be flexible when deciding the optimal length of the bus boarder to accommodate the trade-off between parking provision and additional footpath space given the local context and project objectives.

Half-width bus boarder in Lambton Quay, Wellington. (Source: Joanne Tan)

Half-width bus boarder for a single standard 13.5m-long bus. (Source: Auckland Transport) View larger image [JPG, 46 KB]

Half-width bus boarder – retrofit to existing street kerb line (alternative 1). (Adapted from Auckland Transport) View larger image [JPG, 45 KB]

Half-width bus boarder – retrofit to existing street kerb line (alternative 2). (Adapted from Auckland Transport) View larger image [JPG, 54 KB]

Benefits of in-lane bus stops with boarders

The benefits of bus boarders are that they:

  • minimise the kerbside space required and allow more parking space where demand is high
  • deter illegal on-street vehicle waiting and loading in the bus stop, particularly when the bus boarder is full width
  • maintain the place of the bus in the traffic lane closer to the centre line (compared with a kerbside bus stop at the same location without a bus boarder), which gives the bus better priority when re-entering the traffic flow and reduces bus dwell times
  • allow the bus to line up parallel and close to the kerb, largely without manoeuvres (on-street parking behind the bus stop may influence the length of the lead-in parking restriction required, so undertake vehicle tracking to determine the appropriate lead-in space)
  • avoid buses swinging over the kerb
  • provide good accessibility for all passengers
  • create passenger waiting areas that do not impede or conflict with the pedestrian flow on the footpath and, with bus infrastructure off the main footpath, make space available for such things as attractive streetscapes, landscaping, cycle parking and street furniture
  • act as traffic-calming devices by narrowing the road.

Where to use bus boarders

We recommend using bus boarders when:

  • the operating speed is no more than 50km/h – consider traffic-calming measures where the operative traffic speed exceeds the posted speed limit, unless the resulting delay is too onerous for other buses and general traffic
  • footpaths are narrow, causing conflict between waiting passengers and passing pedestrians
  • fewer than 800 vehicles per hour travel in the same direction as the bus, so benefits to bus passengers will likely outweigh disbenefits to private vehicle passengers
  • bus dwell time needs to be reduced
  • the traffic lane is 3.5–4m wide, which allows 1–1.5m of road space between the lane or centre line and the side of a stationary bus for on-road cyclists to pass (an alternative is to make the bus fully in-lane with a cycle bypass and island/boarder bus stop)
  • kerbside parking demand is high, which generally occurs in urban centres
  • it is difficult for the bus to merge back into the traffic stream from the bus stop.

In-lane bus stop calculator tool

To determine the appropriateness of in-lane or kerbside bus stops based on local context, use our In-lane bus stop calculator tool. This tool uses traffic volumes, bus passenger volumes, and bus dwell times to determine which bus stop layout is optimal in terms of reducing overall travel time delays to users.

In-lane bus stop calculator tool [XLSX, 24 KB]

Other considerations with bus boarders

Other considerations when deciding whether to use in-lane bus boarders are as follows.

  • Bus boarders result in an in-lane bus stop, which can cause vehicles to queue behind the stopped bus in the kerbside lane. On corridors where the movement of people is prioritised over the movement of vehicles, this should not be a deterrent to their use. Aim to design the bus stop on the approach to an intersection to avoid traffic blocking back to the intersection.
  • Consider using no-passing lines next to the bus stop. This will help to achieve bus priority and discourage drivers overtaking the bus in a dangerous manoeuvre that takes them into the opposing traffic lane.
  • Do not use in-lane bus stops if the bus stop is used as a timing point or layover.
  • Consider the road type, traffic volume, expected bus stopping frequency and expected bus stop dwell time to determine whether an in-lane bus stop is appropriate for the road in question.