The Capacity of a Bus Route
As I said in a previous post, I’ve travelled on a New Bus for London five or six times, and only once was the bus full to capacity. That was around six in the evening, when I took it home from the Angel and it was standing room only, as it would have been on every bus from there at that time.
I find this strange as the 38 is a very busy route and obviously the bus has a curiosity value. I too, would always choose it because it is more comfortable and getting on and off is easier. So perhaps we have other factors at work. Could it be that because of its flexibility the New Bus for London is faster at stops and people use it in a different way? Perhaps they tend to get off a stop or two earlier and walk. I have no idea and only a detailed analysis will give the answer.
But it all goes to show that when calculating the capacity of a bus route, it is not a simple process.
The capacity probably depends on three main parameters.
- Obviously the capacity of the bus is important. Doubling the carrying capacity of a bus though may not double the capacity of the route as you’ve still got to get passengers off and on the bus.
- The average journey time it takes to get from one end of the route to the other is also important, as the more trips you can do, the higher the capacity of the route.
- But probably the most important factor is the sum of the dwell times at each of the intermediate stops.
For years London has always had two door buses, with the front one for entry and payment and the middle for exit. I can’t understand, why this isn’t the norm around the country as it cuts the all-important dwell time at stops dramatically. It also makes the entry and exit of wheelchairs and buggies so much easier and fully complies with proposed disability regulations.
The New Bus for London, with its three exits and two staircases, adds another variable to the calculation of route capacity, as it undoubtedly cuts the dwell time at stops.
There are other factors which will effect the dwell time at stops.
- Well-designed wheelchair ramps, that don’t block the entrance or exit.
- Better design and location of bus-stops.
- Hybrid buses, which can accelerate away quicker.
- Electronic ticketing, that is no worse than London’s Oyster.
- Announcement of stops on the bus, so people know where to get off.
- Bus and walking maps at all stops, so passengers know the best bus to take.
- Having a conductor, may make a substantial difference on a busy route.
A lot of the country has a long way to go.
But buses are expensive at between £100,000 and £200,000 a time and it is criminal to spend that on a bus and then not use it to its maximum capacity. If you do use buses to their maximum capacity, you might need a couple of buses fewer to provide the same service.
When London learns more about the New Bus for London, they may find that because of the way people use them, that the number of buses required for a route may be slightly less than those they need now. As I said before, only a detailed analysis will give the answer!
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