[Tagging] Mapping busways with alternating physical separation

Fernando Trebien fernando.trebien at gmail.com
Mon Mar 2 03:20:21 UTC 2015

I'd like to hear your opinion on how to properly represent my
hometown's (Porto Alegre) bus rapid transit (BRT) system, which is
slightly unusual.

The system consists of bus lanes (buses can switch to/from main
traffic at any point and do so almost at will along several stretches)
that become separated from the main ways next to platform/stops, which
act as physical barriers. Check either:
- an illustration: http://i.imgur.com/O4MaQhK.jpg
- the reality: https://maps.google.com/maps?layer=c&cbll=-30.008432,-51.183492&cbp=12,84.21,,0,7.43

If strictly following OSM's conventions on separation of ways [1], I
think it would be represented as lanes:psv=* on many (but not all)
spans of the main ways, with highway=service ways only next to

After some research, I think this would be a rare, perhaps unique
("weird") mapping of a BRT system in OSM. Here
[http://i.imgur.com/RLdZgDk.png] is an comparison of several major BRT
systems in reasonably well mapped areas of the world. All of those
systems are correctly mapped as separated service ways because there
is continuous physical separation between the busways and main
traffic. So I'm wondering if, for clarity, my hometown's case
could/should be mapped "as if" there is continuous physical
separation, like almost everywhere else.


In my comparison table, Mexico City's and Jakarta's BRT systems' stops
are highlighted because they probably qualify as "bus stations" [2].

Buenos Aires' system is quite similar to Porto Alegre's. They use a
variety of physical structures between bus lanes and regular lanes,
but I'm not sure if the smallest ones are considered "physical
separators" in Argentina. In case they are not, it would turn out as
the same "weird" situation as in my hometown in some places. The
Brazilian separators are quite different, but their status as
"physical separators" is well agreed upon. [3]

An opinion [4] made me wonder if highway=service is indeed adequate
for these bus tracks. They really don't provide local access to
"sites" (parking lots, private properties, bus stations, etc.).
Instead, they allow people to move across vast distances around the
city, just like regular roads. Maybe they should be
highway=unclassified as in Brisbane.

I know that Cleveland has a BRT system based solely on bus lanes, but
with no separation from main traffic next to platforms.

To help anyone interested, below are coordinates of areas that I
consider "representative examples" of each of those BRT systems. They
are good starting points for exploration.

-27.4785878 153.0205546 Australia/Brisbane/South East Busway
45.4064414 -75.6642915 Canada/Ottawa/Transitway
-34.5922814 -58.4407038 Argentina/Buenos Aires/Metrobus
34.1812658 -118.5534848 USA/Los Angeles/Orange Line
-23.6915090 -46.5570539 Brazil/São Paulo/Corredor ABD
-25.4359510 -49.3072766 Brazil/Curitiba/Linha Verde
49.4409999 1.0825457 France/Rouen/TEOR
47.2060680 -1.5388248 France/Nantes/Busway (line 4)
52.2340794 0.1350110 UK/Cambridge/The Busway
-23.0003967 -43.3829705 Brazil/Rio de Janeiro/TransOeste
-23.5620123 -46.6124021 Brazil/São Paulo/Expresso Tiradentes
-6.1878222 106.8229964 Indonesia/Jakarta/TransJakarta Corridor 1
19.4036069 -99.1692696 Mexico/Mexico City/Metrobus lines 1-3

[1] http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Editing_Standards_and_Conventions#Divided_highways
[2] http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Proposed_features/Public_Transport#Station
[3] https://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/talk-br/2013-December/004837.html
[4] https://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/tagging/2010-November/005799.html

Fernando Trebien
+55 (51) 9962-5409

"Nullius in verba."

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