Access control to protect Bologna’s Historic City Centre

By News Editor / Updated: 29 Aug 2014

Until recently the main square and a nearby “T-shaped” area of Bologna centre were open to all vehicular traffic, which created a significant problem. Bologna now has camera Controlled Bus Access with computer controlled traffic management and driver information services.


Until relatively recently the main square (The Piazza Maggiore) and a nearby “T-shaped” area of the city centre of Bologna were open to all vehicular traffic, which created a significant problem with many cars weaving through the square as a short-cut across the city centre.


The Piazza Maggiore was pedestrianised and a camera controlled bus priority scheme, operating 24 hours a day, was introduced to prevent vehicles other than specific buses from using the short-cut. The buses which operate the routes through the square have been specifically chosen as short wheelbase, natural gas powered vehicles which are less intrusive to the area and less damaging to the historic cobbled piazza and surrounding architecture.

The camera system is linked to the city’s access control system “Sirio”. Vehicles passing through the square without the required electronic tag (detected by sensors beneath the road surface) are photographed by the cameras and subjected to a fine. The T-shaped area directly to the North of the Piazza Maggiore is also monitored by the 24 hour cameras which cover the Piazza in order that the main public transport intersection in the city centre is as free-flowing as possible.

Results and conclusions

Approximately 600,000 permits have been granted in order to restrict access inside Bologna’s historic city walls to public transport vehicles, residents and some employees.>There are currently plans to widen the area of the cordon by doubling the number of camera sites from 10 to 20 around the historic centre of Bologna in order to enable the development of a greater number of fully pedestrianised zones (the next target area being the university district).

A number of part-time access control measures are already in place (with more due to be added) in the form of rising bollards which serve to widen the pedestrianised areas in the proximity of the Piazza Maggiore. Many of these areas are fully accessible (for deliveries etc) for two 1.5 hour periods per day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. As with car access to the limited traffic zone the residents inside areas with rising bollards receive permits which can be used to gain entry into the zones.


The system, similar to those used in many cities, read all car plates with an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software, check them with those contained in the database of authorised vehicles and, in case of violation, send the transgressor’s data to  the Municipal Police Dept which will issue a fine.2
The results has been very important: the number of accesses is reduced of about 20-25% in the LTZ and of about 70% in the bus lanes; consequently the commercial speed and the regularity of the public transport has considerably improved. Moreover, due to this traffic decrease, there has been an important improvement in the road safety (-19% of accident and –16% of people injured).

Further information:

Traffic and demand management
Urban mobility planning
News Editor
Ben Smith
measures - access control
measures - bus lanes
measures - bus priority
parking management
street layout /.design
27 Nov 2011
29 Aug 2014