This invention relates to an efficient CSMA/CD-based protocol for a local area network using an unidirectional global bus architecture, in which a ready station captures the bus for one packet time only if no other stations to its left transmit along with it. A modified version of the protocol provides a fairer access to the bus. This new scheme is a variable priority structure in which each station has a priority that changes dynamically with the state of the system. This is a contention scheme that behaves like a generalized and very flexible reservation protocol. A performance analysis of both versions of the protocol results in channel efficiency and transmission delay figures that are superior to those of the leading bus protocols.