Talk:Proposed features/Tag:highway=busway

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Do we really need a new high-level tag value?

Resolved: Using highway=service is misleading as to the purpose and function of busways, and appropriating a tagging scheme meant to capture the idiosyncrasies of different types of public roadways would create more problems than solutions. Please see Proposed_features/Tag:highway=busway#Rationale, which has been updated

Seen from my corner of the world (Italy), there are few, if any, public-bus-only roads. Most of them are shared with taxies (psv=yes) and often also with bicycles. Solutions vary from place to place. I wood stick with the existing mapping approach. i.e. defining the road type with highway=* and handle the bus-only feature with access tags as before. I would, however, discourage the use of service=busway, which has he same drawback as the new proposal, as it ties a road classification to a specific means of transport.

--voschix (talk) 16:23, 17 March 2021 (UTC)

I see both sides of the argument here. On one hand these dedicated busways are physically similar to other roads so using an existing highway tags makes some sense. On the other hand they are functionally very different from regular roads so a separate tag makes sense. I also live in an area where there are no busways, but from what I gather they aren't just roads where it happens that only buses are allowed. It sounds like they are almost entirely physically separated from other roads and residents think of them more like a light rail, subway, or other public transit infrastructure than part of the regular road network. -- Ezekielf (talk) 17:00, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
I feel like this is an important quote from key:highway:
Note that highway=* distinguishes roads by function and importance rather by their physical characteristic and legal classification. Usually this things are highly correlated, but OSM is not obligated to copy official road classifications.
In other words, the physical similarities between busways and roads such as highway=trunk or highway=primary don't matter as much as the role they play as pieces of infrastructure.
--Colgza (talk) 18:50, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
Why are these roads currently tagged highway=service rather than highway=motorway/trunk, access=no? They certainly look more like highway=motorway than highway=service. And they behave like them too, just only for buses. Marcel.dejean (talk) 17:25, 20 March 2021 (UTC)
The reason why is because it is the accepted tagging scheme (see Tag:service=busway).
--Colgza (talk) 18:02, 20 March 2021 (UTC)
I haven't seen any discussion about that tag, only that highways' tagging should be determined by function and importance, and it seems to me that these busways are quite important, if only for a certain type of vehicle. Some highways have hgv=no, but that doesn't disqualify them from highway=motorway IMO, and neither should access=no, psv=yes. I'd definitely prefer to see the kind of busways this tag would apply to tagged instead as highway=motorway or trunk, access=no, psv=yes. Marcel.dejean (talk) 16:03, 21 March 2021 (UTC)
But then how would one tell which of the existing highway=* values to use? The Key:highway page only actually includes a general description of the different values of highway=*. The specifics to how highway=* tags are actually meant to be applied varies depending on country.
Relying on existing highway=* tags would either cause busways to have completely different tagging conventions between countries (when there is absolutely no reason to have this level of inconsistency for this feature), or cause busways to break from the tagging convention of each country.
--Colgza (talk) 16:58, 21 March 2021 (UTC)


Resolved: Length does not generally determine the difference between a busway and a service road. For more discussion on that distinction, please see Talk:Proposed_features/Tag:highway=busway#service_roads_where_access_is_restricted_to_buses.

Would the bus ramps and tunnel to the Port Authority Bus Terminal qualify as busway? Is this intended?

Clearly the morning-rush-only, non-separated Lincoln Tunnel exclusive bus lane would not. Marcel.dejean (talk) 17:22, 17 March 2021 (UTC)

I tried to modify Proposed_features/Tag:highway=busway#Tagging as to exclude this type of road. Would you now find it adequate?

This is one case that I had not adequately considered. I suppose I could say that since the ramps leading to the Port Authority Bus Terminal meet the definition of highway=service, it should probably be tagged as such:
Generally for access to a building, service station, beach, campsite, industrial estate, business park, etc.
However, this begs the question, as I have seen other cases of roads less than 100 meters long where access was (supposedly) restricted to buses. The ITDP, which develops The BRT Standard, defines a BRT Corridor partly by it having a minimum length of three kilometers. But, I am reluctant to rely on some NGO's arbitrary definition as a part of my proposal. If you think these types of roadways should not be mapped as highway=busway, how would you attempt to differentiate them?

--Colgza (talk) 18:04, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
Yes, that seems like a good description of it.
Would you consider the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel in it's pre-2005 buses-only form to be a highway=busway? How about in its pre-2019 bus+light rail form? How about Providence's College Hill Tunnel which contains no stations? Or does a highway=busway need to form the whole or at least majority of a route?
With the growth of electronic guided busways which are basically indistinguishable from roads except in function (or perhaps pavement marking), I'd like to see this tag subsume highway=bus_guideway. Marcel.dejean (talk) 23:53, 18 March 2021 (UTC)
I think these all unambiguously fit within the description I set for highway=busway. I wouldn't even consider these edge cases. Do you think my definition is vague enough that these to be ambiguous?
As for highway=bus_guideway, I started work on on Proposed_features/Key:bus_guideway, but abandoned it. I do think that there is a strong case for deprecating highway=bus_guideway in favor of highway=busway + bus_guideway=kerb, but I didn't really have the time to work on finishing that proposal. However, I would strongly encourage you to pick up where I left off.
--Colgza (talk) 02:17, 19 March 2021 (UTC)
I'm still concerned about the definition of highway=bus_guideway being physical contact, so I would be cautious about this. ---- Kovposch (talk) 16:58, 19 March 2021 (UTC)
I'm confused by your phrasing. What do you mean by this?
--Colgza (talk) 17:24, 19 March 2021 (UTC)
I won't want to redefine highway=bus_guideway, and by logical extension bus_guideway=*, to expand to non-contact guidance. bus_guideway=optical and bus_guideway=magnetic would be self-contradictory under the original meaning. At least back in 2008, this limitation is intended under Talk:Tag:highway=bus_guideway#Voting,_second_try ---- Kovposch (talk) 17:46, 19 March 2021 (UTC)
Well, the main reason I stopped working on Proposed_features/Key:bus_guideway was because it seemed like an incredibly controversial topic, that I didn't have the energy to argue about. --Colgza (talk) 17:52, 19 March 2021 (UTC)
Very true. If you have time, you can take a look at my Proposed_features/Unconvetional_railway_details#Busway recently pushed to main namespace, prompted by your proposal. I have no idea on how to coordinate my guidance=* concept which would apply to different modes. ---- Kovposch (talk) 07:21, 20 March 2021 (UTC)

Definitely needed

Resolved: Thank you. I agree.

I've been frustrated that this tag didn't exist for some time now. Your proposal is a very good solution to the current confusion over guided busways and other busways. I've seen quite a few busways tagged as guided busways, and I think this proposal will help with those. LeifRasmussen (talk) 22:01, 17 March 2021 (UTC)


Resolved: offending line removed from proposal

"Generally, it should not apply roadways that pedestrians are allowed to cross outside of designated crosswalks" That implies that this tag is not suitable in many countries like Germany and the UK, because there is no such restriction apart from very specific cases (e.g. motorroads). Mueschel (talk)

Are you referring to transit malls, or is there another case I have not considered?
All of the examples of busways that I have seen explicitly prohibit pedestrian access, like in the picture below (where no pedestrian ways even connect to the busway):
Av Américas Transmilenio Mundo Aventura.JPG
--Colgza (talk) 13:57, 19 March 2021 (UTC)
That might be the case in your area. In many countries pedestrians are allowed to cross roads in any place (unless there are signs or barriers, obviously). --Mueschel (talk) 14:12, 19 March 2021 (UTC)
I see what you mean. I had not considered how variance in traffic laws for each country would affect my proposal. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.
However, after before I revise my proposal, may I ask for you to provide an example of a busway lacking signs or barriers, where pedestrians are allowed at any point?
--Colgza (talk) 14:56, 19 March 2021 (UTC)
I have an example one from Germany. Mapillary THis is main city center pf Dresden with two one lane oneway roads and a center combined tram and bus road in the middle. Since it separates two major areas and squares, people go back and forth all the time. Legally in Germany you are allowed to cross roads wherever you want, as long as you don't interfere with traffic. Even though German law is a bit vague because you are not allowed to cross a red pedestrian crossing but technically there is no distance limit you have to be away from the crossing so you could literally cross right next to it. --Hedaja (talk) 20:19, 19 March 2021 (UTC)
Okay. I have removed the sentence in question. It does not seem necessary for that sentence to be replaced.
Admittedly, I should have done this after your responded to my first comment, and I feel like I have wasted your time. For that I apologize.
Would you consider this topic resolved?
--Colgza (talk) 20:35, 19 March 2021 (UTC)


Resolved: added section about how to tag combined busways and tramways ("transitways"): Tag:highway=busway#Tramways_and_light_railways

Note that some will also have trams -

Presumably some will have trolleybuses Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 11:16, 19 March 2021 (UTC)

You are not the first person in this discussion page to bring up combined busways and tramways (more generally referred to as "transit ways"). I initially did not think that these were cases that needed any additional clarification. Would it be wise to add a section to the proposal about combined busways/tramways?
--Colgza (talk) 14:05, 19 March 2021 (UTC)
Note " This proposal is to create a tag to describe roadways that are designated for buses only, in which all other traffic (usually with the exception of emergency). vehicles) is prohibited.". If trams are present then such conditions are violated. Note that it differs from "A roadway used exclusively for buses and emergency vehicles, where all other private vehicles are barred from using" and that something become broken (terminating unstarted bracket in "vehicles)") Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 16:14, 19 March 2021 (UTC)
Perhaps I should rewrite the definition as follows:
"roadways used primarily by buses for urban transportation, in which other types of traffic is usually restricted"
This definition would not automatically preclude other types of transit vehicles. What do you think?
Seems OK, but it would include also roads open generally but with heavy bus traffic (say road with two bus lanes and one lane open to a general traffic - may be considered as fitting such definition with restriction on private car traffic, but from what I remember it is open at least to people living there) Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 16:49, 19 March 2021 (UTC)
Your right. Such a definition would include Wikipedia:Transit_mall transit malls, creating ambiguity on how they would be tagged.
One other consideration is that since tramways are mapped as separate ways, it might not be necessary to change my definition to include them.
--Colgza (talk) 17:09, 19 March 2021 (UTC)

service roads where access is restricted to buses

Resolved: As per Tag:highway=busway#Tagging, the definition of highway=busway has been narrowed to mainly carriageways and link roads.

"current tagging schema does not make it possible to distinguish between busways, and service roads where access is restricted to buses"

Are there any service roads where access is restricted to buses, but are not busways? Giving examples would be useful here. Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 11:17, 19 March 2021 (UTC)

I included this point because it was up by a carto developer in an issue to render busways with the current tagging scheme
The initial example that I thought of was for roads leading to bus garages.
User:Marcel.dejean in this discussion brought up access ramps leading to the New York City Port Authority Bus Terminal, and I thought this was also an example of a roadway that would more appropriately be tagged with highway=service + access=no + bus=yes. However, this was an edge case that confused me.
--Colgza (talk) 14:35, 19 March 2021 (UTC)
I admit that both cases seems to be a valid busways to me. Maybe some reliable way to distinguish between "service road designated for buses" and "busway" would be useful. Is busway used by urban transport buses carrying passengers? Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 16:18, 19 March 2021 (UTC)
The rationale that I used in both of these cases was that they simply fit the definition of highway=service:
Generally for access to a building, service station, beach, campsite, industrial estate, business park, etc.
In an early version of my proposal, I achieved this by stipulating that roadways that lacked any bus routes could not be busways. This seemed to be an extremely arbitrary approach, so I removed that line.
Perhaps a good approach to addressing this issue would be to stipulate that if a roadway can be better described by highway=service, then that tag should be used instead.
--Colgza (talk) 16:56, 19 March 2021 (UTC)

I wouldn't consider the lanes of a bus station, a bus-only highway ramp, a bus-only way through an intersection, or a bus garage driveway to be a busway. Marcel.dejean (talk) 17:19, 20 March 2021 (UTC)
Which definition of busway would you use to specifically exclude those types of roadways?
--Colgza (talk) 18:23, 26 March 2021 (UTC)

Aren't busways service roads?

Resolved: Unlike busways, neither truckways, goodsways, nor any other such example serves the role of a right of way for mass transit. Even with the broadened definition of service, busways would still be distinctive from other values of service=* because they are used by passengers travelling to any number of destinations, as opposed to "truckways" which would only be used by drivers transporting cargo.

Contrary to the conclusion of Talk:Proposed_features/Tag:highway=busway#Do_we_really_need_a_new_high-level_tag_value?, I do see highway=service + service=busway as valid and usable, if we treat the definition of "service" as for the purpose of a particular function, whether it is serving a facility (keep in mind that a facility can be as large as an airport, military base, major park, etc), or here operating a bus system. In this approach, for bus station roads, either a different service=* value would be used; or another tag (eg usage=* if we take a cue from other features) could be used together with service=busway.

A particular cross-modal comparison I would like to make is the Ube Industries Dedicated Road relation 10697017 in Japan, a ~32km private-use 80km/h design speed dual-2-lane (or dual-1-lane plus both-side shoulder) grade-separated divided road, with a few interchanges (also has gated road crossings at access points) and a significant-span ~1km-long truss bridge way 120508611. It's even formally named Ube Industries Ube-Mi'ne "Expressway". While it's currently tagged as highway=service by someone, this still seem reasonable to me. In practice it's a true "truckway". It doesn't quite fit other values functionally. Hypothetically speaking, if we start having dedicated roads for trucks, automated taxis, and other road vehicles, would we need highway=goodsway, "taxiway", and more?

Additional response copied over: One characteristic of a dedicated busway is they are usually for a certain bus system only, not other bus (even for the same company or transit network) is allowed in. As such I personally see this as compatible with highway=service, if the bus system is seen as a city-wide facility. Theoretically speaking, if a road is built solely for maintaining a long railway, pipeline (cf some ~40km long Trans-Alaska Pipeline service=pipeline_access way 258678849,way 264284369), or electricity line, we may still consider it a highway=service. So length and reach isn't that much of a necessary factor. ---- Kovposch (talk) 19:04, 20 March 2021 (UTC)

Unlike busways, neither truckways, goodsways, nor any other such example serves the role of a right of way for mass transit. Even with the broadened definition of service, busways would still be distinctive from other values of service=* because they are used by passengers travelling to any number of destinations, as opposed to "truckways" which would only be used by drivers transporting cargo.
I don't really see how your point about how busways being restricted to one organization makes them more like highway=service.
Colgza (talk) 20:33, 29 March 2021 (UTC)

Dual-use ways

The proposal so far lacks a proper mention and tagging examples of dual use busways that are open e.g. for bicycles or electric vehicles. Mueschel (talk) (UTC)

From how you describe it, "dual-use busways" do not seem to meet the criteria I set out for highway=busway. From the sound of it, these types of roadways would be better tagged as transit malls (as per Proposed_features/Tag:highway=busway#Similar_infrastructure). Unless you can provide an example of a "dual-use busway" that would not also meet the definition of transit mall, I will mark this as resolved.
--Colgza (talk) 14:32, 21 March 2021 (UTC)

Busway links

Resolved: It has been determined by the community at large that highway=busway_link is unneeded.

Would it make sense to create a tag highway=busway_link for sections of roads connecting between a busway and a another type of busway? --Colgza (talk) 17:37, 20 March 2021 (UTC)

If you follow the format of Proposed features/Tag:footway=link, it would be busway=link. We also use railway=* + service=crossover, instead of railway=*_link. ---- Kovposch (talk) 19:09, 20 March 2021 (UTC)
I'm somewhat confused by what you mean. This would be to follow the format of highway=motorway_link, trunk_link, primary_link, etc.
--Colgza (talk) 14:16, 21 March 2021 (UTC)
It seems like the idea behind footway=link (in combination with highway=footway on the same way) is to avoid a proliferation of highway=*_link values, since a link to a footway is typically also a footway in and of itself (whereas a link road for cars might have more to do with the motorway it comes from than the primary road it leads to). – Minh Nguyễn 💬 07:30, 29 March 2021 (UTC)
The situation is extremely confusing to me. I think it might be best just to create a link:highway=* prefix and deprecate all existing highway=*_link tags, but that's not my prerogative.
--Colgza (talk) 15:51, 29 March 2021 (UTC)


Resolved: Answered Question

Hi, I'm not sure to understand the limit of the new tag. Would this central bus lane be tagged as a highway=busway ?
And this one the side ? --Florimondable (talk) 20:20, 31 March 2021 (UTC)

Hello. Seeing as how cars are driving in this bus lane, I would not tag it as highway=busway. However, I also don't think that the use of highway=service is correct in this context. —Colgza (talk) 20:35, 31 March 2021 (UTC)
So the tag name is kind of missleading and its usage is to narrow I think.--Florimondable (talk) 22:03, 31 March 2021 (UTC)
There are also people who think that the scope of this tag is too wide. —Colgza (talk) 22:40, 31 March 2021 (UTC)