Bus Stops

From the well duh department, that getting rid of some bus stops can improve service, has been well known for decades.

In Europe bus stops tend to be 350m to 400m apart, but in Vancouver bus stops tend to be 250m to 300m apart, with some examples no more than 100m apart. It is easy to see why TransLink’s bus service is ranked as a “loser cruiser”, which stops at every lamp post. Simple logic dictates longer distances between stops increase commercial speed and increases capacity at no cost.

The question is: Why does Translink still operate buses with stops so close together?

By comparison tram routes in Europe have stops averaging every 400m to 500m apart and LRT with stops every 500m to 600m apart.

The bus stops in your court TransLink!

Getting rid of some bus stops can improve service: study

Suggests it reduces travel time without too much of an impact on travelers

Mike Lloyd and Dean Recksiedler January 10, 2014

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) ai??i?? As Translink continually struggles to find more funding, a recent study out of the US may have found a very simple way to cut costs, improve service, and boost bus ridership.

The researchers suggest getting rid of some bus stops reduces travel times significantly without drastically affecting the number of people served along a route.

It sounds counter-intuitive, but that is what happened when they cut out 43 per cent of the stops along a university bus route in Fairfax, Virginia; travel times were reduced by 23 per cent and operating costs were reduced by almost a quarter.

Study co-author Edmund Zolnik, a public policy professor at George Mason University, says one of the reasons bus service is unpopular is it is slow, and one of the reasons it is slow is because bus stops are densely placed.

In this particular case, the study found riders didnai??i??t have a problem with walking a little farther to a bus stop when a one-way trip on the route dropped from 2 hrs, 4 min to 1 hr, 36 min.

As travel times drop, Zolnik believes it encourages more people to use the system since it could be more useful for them.

ai???Time is often a reason people will cite for not using public transportation. This is not inconsequential; thatai??i??s a big difference in time for people using the bus,ai??? Zolnik tells News1130. ai???Itai??i??s ironic that by limiting some stops, we might get more people on the bus in total.ai???

Would it work for Translink?

The 99 B Line ai??i?? serving one of the busiest transit corridors in North America ai??i?? uses a similar principle, but Zolnik suggests it could also be used on less busy routes to improve efficiency.

ai???The results seem to indicate there would be a net benefit for any system that did try this,ai??? he says, but adds more studies need to be done. Not everyone can easily walk a longer distance to their bus stop.

ai???It would be difficult to translate this to other kinds of communities where you have more people aging in place, more seniors. The system may benefit, but there would be people who would not be happy with losing their stops,ai??? says Zolnik. ai???How do you balance the efficiency of the system with very, very local demands for service?ai???

Zolnik notes savings could be used to fund things that might encourage transit use, such as cheaper fares or added capacity on other routes.


One Response to “Bus Stops”
  1. Haveacow says:

    Its the forever debate in transit, access (many stops allowing greater accessibility and rider safety to the service) versus ridership (decrease the number of stops, get the disabled and seniors off regular transit service in peak because some fear it slows down service or more expresses versus regular service). Riders don’t mind walking further to stops unless its raining, cold, your a person who has trouble walking unaided, its really hot/humid and or the service is really bad and its a long wait to the next vehicle so you don’t want to miss it. A faster trip is great until you miss the vehicle entirely. I was involved in a situation where a bus stop was removed because it was less than 100 metres between both the following and preceeding stops. The community had no fewer than 300 people fight to bring it back. The stop averaged less than 35 passengers a day. The stop was brought back and even fewer people are using it now, even though the route the stop is on is exploding in ridership. You just can’t win sometimes.