Bus Stop Removal Could Enhance Service Times

As any frequent Cincinnati Metro rider knows, it seems like the bus stops at almost every block in the city. Would reducing the number of bus stops help make bus transit more efficient? A recent study released done by researchers at George Mason University looks at a hypothetical 43% reduction in bus stops in Fairfax, Virginia. Their results are worth checking into. More from Governing:

When bus stops are frequent, not only do buses have to stop more often to pick up and drop off passengers, they also use value time accelerating and decelerating. Those two factors alone can take up to 26 percent of total bus travel times. All that stopping and starting can also increase emissions.

Nationally, most bus riders — about 75 percent to 80 percent of them — walk less than a quarter mile to bus stops. But Zolnik’s study assumed that, in this case, most passengers could walk half a mile to stop, since many of the riders are young, healthy students.

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  • Mark Christol

    I have seen, fairly frequently, people pay full fare to ride from one stop, two blocks to the next.
    And, for the most part, they are young, healthy students.

  • Eric Douglas

    It’s amazing how lazy people will be if you let them and that bus drivers don’t speak up about the constant stopping. The 17 is a great example of this:
    -From Government Sq in the South north down Main to Central, there is a stop at every intersection and a stop on both sides of Central and Main
    -On Clifton between Vine and Mcmillan there is a stop at all but 3 intersections
    -On Clifton again between Mcmillan and Ludlow there is a stop at all but 2 intersections in addition to numerous stops at non-intersections.
    Maybe if Metro consolidated some of these stops at focal points they wouldn’t need to issue those stupid stop-time matrix maps. Put some of that printing money towards a bus tracker app.

    • Matt Jacob

      A bus tracker app is long overdue

    • I’m all for a bus-tracker app, but that’s really not how that could potentially happen.

      Every transit agency has printed schedule maps…

    • Eric Douglas

      Wherever the printing money comes from through the bureaucracy, it could be used better. Most people don’t rely on the printed maps but it seems like the people in charge think they do.

    • I’m sure the total printing budget for SORTA is less than the cost of…pretty much anything significant that we might prefer they do. They have a bulk contract and they’re printing in two colors on standard size paper. It’s not free, sure, but it’s not the first thing I would ask them to cut.

      I really think they need to spend *more* on telling people about their system through all media, printed or otherwise. There’s no reason it should be either or. In the best case scenario, if you’re right that electronic communication is better, then paper is phased out when no one misses it. But it hardly hurts to keep it in the meantime.

  • Jules Michael Rosen

    “Young, healthy students” does not really reflect the demographics of the Metro buses, but I still agree with the gist of the article.

  • David Cole

    Metro’s stops are absolutely too close together, in many cases literally every block. I’ve never seen anything like it. (In most other cities I’ve lived, bus stops are generally about 800 feet to 1/4 mile apart.) Meanwhile, some bus stops are located a full city block away from major intersections. I suspect that the bus stop locations are chosen not for the convenience of Metro riders, but for the convenience of automobile drivers.

    Combined with the fact that most Metro riders seem to pay with cash fares and have no clue what the rear door on the bus is for, it’s no wonder that Metro buses are barely faster than walking in some cases, particularly in the denser urban areas.

    • Neil Clingerman

      I’d say Chicago is just as bad in regards to stops being too close on buses, particularly in the areas close to the Loop where the blocks are way smaller (at least you get far enough out and the blocks are far enough apart that its not quite as nonsensical but still bad). I’m a huge proponent of at least providing an LA style system with rapid and local buses for that reason. (ADA requirements would probably make getting rid of the stops difficult hence the two types of buses).

    • ADA doesn’t have anything to do with stop spacing.

    • Neil Clingerman

      I have on several occasions wanted to know why do buses literally stop every single block? Was that something that’s always been the case or was it something added after the fact.

      I always thought the biggest thing holing back changing the stops from their current obscene level to something more efficient was elderly and disabled passengers who would much prefer not walking the extra distance… hmmm

    • Here’s a good place to start:

      Do a little more digging into the difference between ‘coverage goals’ and ‘ridership goals’ in transit.

  • Ashley Henderson

    PLEASE reduce the number of stops, starting with the one in front of my house. Since there isn’t a bench or “shelter” some of the riders feel the need to pop-a-squat on my rock wall/flower bed at the end of my driveway. (One lady in particular does it EVERYTIME she rides the bus!!) She has done it so many times she is even in the google street view of my house. DISLIKE! You cant stand up for a few minutes to wait for the bus? While members of the military (myself and my husband) stand(up) watch for HOURS daily! There is a bus stop within eye sight of the one in front of my house, that is NOT infront of a house, and has a bench/shelter! Use it lady and NOT my flower bed that I work very hard to maintain!