In 2007 the authorities of Warsaw, the capital of Poland introduced a dedicated tram lane in a part of one of the main arteries of the city, connecting its important central districts. The number of passengers in public transport grew by 250%.
Background & Objectives
The “Trasa W-Z” route (“W-Z”, eng. East-West) with its total length of 6760 meters, (including a bridge over Vistula river) and intense public transport traffic (trams and buses) is one of the busiest central thoroughfares of Warsaw, connecting its west and east districts and assuring access to Warsaw’ underground from the right bank of Vistula.
Until the route was reorganised in its middle section (about 3,2 km long, along with the bridge), there were two lanes in each direction, accessible for all traffic participants. The tram track was not separated from the road traffic and thus shared a single lane. As a result, trams were stuck in traffic jams during peak hours.
In 2007, it was decided to separate the tram lane from the public one by means of a painted line. Two years later the tram lane was made accessible also for buses (since 2011, four bus lines now run the route), creating multimodal interchanges along the route.
Before the new solution was brought in, there were on average 1700 cars per hour running one direction. Since there was only one public lane left, the number of cars decreased by 40%, whereas tram passenger numbers have grown by 250%. Additionally, the transport authority has increased frequency on the four tram lines that operate along the route from 55 up to 60 departures per hour during peak hours
The separation of the tram track has been met with severe criticism among the users of private cars. However, the city authorities have decided to keep the tram lane active as it has led to great improvement in the service for both the tram and buses that use the route.
The application of common bus/tram lane on the “W-Z” route, the first of this type in Warsaw, has shown how to improve the functioning of public transport significantly and how to encourage passengers to use trams and buses instead of their own cars, at low costs and in a short time.
Such a solution has the potential to be replicated across other city routes, where tram tracks are embedded in the roadway, leading to loss of time for the passengers.