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Public-images-osm logo.svg highway = busway
Harmoni Central Busway Transjakarta 2.JPG
A dedicated roadway for bus rapid transit systems. Show/edit corresponding data item.
Group: highways
Used on these elements
should not be used on nodesmay be used on waysshould not be used on areasshould not be used on relations (except multipolygon relations)
Useful combination
See also
Status: approvedPage for proposal

Bus rapid transit (BRT), also called a busway or transitway, is a  bus-based public transport system using dedicated roadways for buses. Busways give priority to buses at intersections where buses may interact with other traffic. These systems have design features which reduce  terminal dwell time caused by passengers boarding or leaving buses, or purchasing fares.

Sometimes, these roadways are referred to as "fixed guideways" by government agencies but should not be confused with guided busways, which use rail-like guides or tracks rather than ordinary paved roads. Additionally, this tagging does not apply to painted bus lanes on public roads or transit malls, even though they are also commonly referred to as busways.

The tag highway=busway should be applied to carriageways that maintain a high level of importance specifically for bus passengers, but are not meant to be used by motorists, pedestrians, or cyclists. In other words, this tag should only apply to roadways used for passenger transport.

How to map

Draw the way carriageway of the rapid transit system and add highway=busway.

Tags used in combination

Tag Description Example
name=* Name of the busway (if applicable) Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway
operator=* Name of the operator (if known) Port Authority of Allegheny County
embedded_rails=* If a busway shares a right of way with a (former or current) rail line. light_rail
trolley_wire=* For busways used by trolley-buses
bus_bay=* Whether a section of busway contains a bus bay.


Use highway=busway also for link roads (sliproads / ramps) leading to and from the main carriageway, as well as for "channelised" (physically separated by an obstruction) at-grade turning lanes connecting the through carriageways/through lanes of the busway to other minor roadways. The table illustrates which highway=* is to be used when mapping link roads connecting to busways. Do not apply highway=busway to any bus-only link roads that does not actually connect to the carriageway of any busway corridors.

Link roads between different highways types
From To The link between will be tagged as:
busway service service
unclassified/residential busway
motorway motorway_link


The standard OSM Carto style does not render this tag. Two pull requests have been contributed — one in September 2021[1], and one in October 2022[2] — but none of the Carto maintainers have been found willing to either apply one of these or provide an alternative.

Compare OSM Carto and Apache Baremaps:

Compare OSM Carto and OpenStreetMap Americana:

Similar infrastructure

The following features may allow access buses while restricting other forms of traffic, but they should not be tagged with highway=busway:

Similar Infrastructure
Feature Description Example Correct tagging scheme
Bus-only service roads A short service road that leads away from the main carriageway to a bus system administration, operations facility (e.g., bus terminal, bus garage, etc.).
Bus garage
East Liberty Garage in Pittsburgh, which is off the East Busway
highway=service + access=no + bus=yes
Bus-only motorway links These are motorway sliproads/ramps that are designated for buses only. Sometimes, they feed directly into an enclosed bus station.
Ramps leading into Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City, in which general traffic is disallowed. Image
Any section of bus-only roadway that connects to any regular traffic road should be tagged with highway=motorway_link + access=no + bus=designated.

Any section of bus-only roadway that only leads into a bus station should be tagged with highway=service + access=no + bus=designated.

Physically-separated bus bypass lanes These are short stretches of bus-only roadway at intersections that allow buses priority through an intersection before re-entering general traffic.
A designated bus-only throughway off of Piccadilly Circus in London.
To determine the correct value of highway=*, consult the lookup table for link roads between different highways types. Apply bus=yes in addition to any other appropriate access tag.
 Transit Malls Also often referred to as a busway, a transit mall is a street, or set of streets, in a city or town along which automobile traffic is prohibited or greatly restricted and only public transit vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians are permitted.[3]These types of roads may experience high levels of conflict between pedestrian/bike traffic, and bus traffic.
14th Street Busway in New York City
highway=unclassified (or a similar tag) and bus=designated are required.

If a road only allows access motor vehicles reaching their destination, use motor_vehicle=destination.

If taxis are permitted, use taxi=yes.

If a road requires motor vehicles to turn right at the next intersection, use turn restrictions.

If the restrictions on motor vehicles only applies during certain hours of the day, use conditional restrictions.

Physically-separated bus bays Bus bays are areas outside the main carriageways for buses to pick up and drop off passengers. Some bus bays are physically separated from the road. highway=service + bus_bay=*
Painted bus lanes These are bus lanes that are not physically separated from general traffic.
On Washington Street in Boston, the painted bus lanes are between a traffic lane and a parking lane. Not only is there not physical enforcement of the bus lane, but cars must enter it to park.
Please consult Key:busway and bus lanes.
HOV Lanes These are physically separated sections of roads on motorways where motor vehicles must contain a minimum number occupancy in order to be allowed access. Sometimes, buses are routed onto these roads.
Bus stop on highway with bollards
Harbor Transit Way in Los Angeles, which is primarily an HOV lane. The bollards serve to protect pedestrians from cars travelling at high velocities.
Please consult Key:hov.

Possible tagging mistakes

If you know places with this tag, verify if it could be tagged with another tag.
Automated edits are strongly discouraged unless you really know what you are doing!