Fast and comfortable interurban public transport using novel inline stations and vehicles

 

Vehicle engineering

Our concept electric coach offers fast, easy, step-free access from doors at the front and rear and self-managed luggage. Sophisticated active ride control, normally only found on top-end luxury cars, combined with the vibration-free electric propulsion provides passengers with unique ‘train-quality’ smoothness.

By use of 4-wheel steering and a long wheel-base, the cabin area is completely flat, without the intrusive wheel-wells that reduce passenger space in many other low-floor vehicles. A toilet is available from the rear lobby, avoiding the need for anyone to sit close to the entrance.

The streamlined bodywork results in better aerodynamics and longer range from the battery. The battery is carried in a trailer to facilitate rapid swaps at intermediate stops to avoid delaying passengers and remove the need for expensive custom recharging facilities.

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Inline stations

Inline stations would allow express coach services to speedily pick-up and drop-off passengers without time-consuming detours into urban centres. Riders then complete their journeys using a variety of local transport options. Our analysis shows that coach services using these inline stations would be able to approach overall travel-times achieved by a car. Stations of similar design already exist in some European countries.

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Analytics

72% of all distance travelled on trips of over 50 miles in 2018 in Britain were made by car (43 billion passenger miles); 23% (14 billion passenger miles) were made by rail and only 5% (3 billion passenger miles) were made by express coach. If coaches could attract 30% of current car long-distance travel it would increase coach demand by a factor of five and relieve pressure on the road network.

Use of coaches would also dramatically improve road-space utilisation. Image 1 (below) shows a 4-lane carriageway carrying 20,000 people per hour in private cars at an average speed of 16mph. To ensure timely arrival for 95% of the time, motorists must add 66% additional journey time.1

If only 1 in 5 cars are replaced with coaches (image 2 below) this same carriageway can carry 30,000 people per hour at an average speed of 54mph.Journey times are more reliable for everyone since a blocked lane will result in fewer delays due to the lower traffic density.

When used exclusively for coaches (Image 3 below) the same carriageway can carry 100,000 people per hour at an average speed of 52mph. In cars, this number of people would need at least 20 lanes!

Road utilisation

1 Based on 1.5 people per hour and a minimum headway between vehicles of between 1 and 2.5 seconds. Travel time reliability sourced from Highways England.

2 Based on an average coach occupancy of 20 people per vehicle.

Simulation

We use simulation extensively, at both a large scale when simulating the operation of transport operations with 100s of vehicles and 1,000s of riders, and also at the smaller scale when developing designs for inline stations and vehicles. By doing this we are able to develop faster and at much lower cost than an approach based on real-world trials.