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Burnaby using 'cutting-edge' lasers to fix traffic mess at Metrotown mall

Buses get backed up trying to turn
This intersection next to Metropolis at Metrotown causes daily issues.

The City of Burnaby says it is embracing innovation to solve a long-standing traffic issue at one of the busiest transit stations in Metro Vancouver.

Buses on 12 different routes need to make a left turn in order to enter the bus loop at the Metrotown SkyTrain Station at Metropolis at Metrotown mall. But without a dedicated left-turn lane, buses were bunching up waiting to make a turn, slowing down transit as well as through traffic on Central Boulevard.

The City of Burnaby partnered with TransLink and local company Botech Engineering and Consulting Inc. to deploy a “cutting-edge” LiDAR system at the intersection. The LiDAR system uses lasers to detect buses, activating a special LED signal that gives buses a protected left turn into the bus loop.

“This is the first time a LiDAR-based sensor has been deployed to detect buses in a mixed stream of traffic on a travel lane,” says a city news release. “LiDAR can precisely detect length and height to identify a bus in total darkness, shade, snow or rain — something artificial intelligence-based (AI) cameras can’t do.”

The city says this will result in:

Reduced delays as buses make the advance turn without impeding traffic.

Improved pedestrian safety at the intersection.

The city saves time and money by not having to install a dedicated left-turn lane for buses only, which would have required the city to acquire property or reduce the number of traffic lanes.