MEX Rapid Transit

The first self-steering buses in London will be used to ferry
visitors to the Millennium Dome from Charlton Station. Running along
a ‘guideway’, the buses can be steered automatically through on-board
computers linking with electronic sensors in the road, or by the
driver in the normal way.

Construction work is now complete on the 1.3 km special guideway
and is being funded jointly by London Transport Buses, English
Partnerships and the New Millennium Experience Company through an
agreement with the London Borough of Greenwich. However, the guidance
system is innoperative on the section of road between Charlton
Station and the traffic light junction of the ‘guideway’ route to the
Dome on Bugsby’s Way to the rear of the new Homebase store.

Testing of the guidance systems will be completed in time for the
introduction of the special high-quality bus service, which will run
every five minutes from Charlton Station to the Dome and North
Greenwich Station, starting in late December 1999.

Alstom Engineering were awarded the contract for the
electronic guidance system, which uses two electric cables buried
beneath the road surface which create a magnetic field detected by
antennae installed on the bus. An on-board computer then processes
the information and sends a signal to the steering system ensuring
the bus follows an accurate and well-defined path.

It is the first time that an electronic guidance system has been
used in passenger service, although a similar installation is used in
the service tunnels of the Channel Tunnel.

Its application in a guideway will ensure a very smooth quality of
ride for passengers and very accurate alignment at bus stops giving
passengers step-free and gap-free boarding.

The electronic system allows the guideway to be used by buses not
fitted with the guided system. It is also designed to allow other
vehicles to pass if a vehicle breaks down in service.

Article taken from Meridian Line, April 1999.

Last updated, December 20th, 1999

Web’d by David Riddle

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