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 in-operative 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

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