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11 Simple Ways to Speed Up Your City’s Buses
Posted By Payton Chung On April 18, 2014 @ 11:48 am In Bus Rapid Transit,Buses,Transit | 26 Comments
All across America, city buses are waiting. Waiting at stoplights, waiting behind long lines of cars, waiting to pull back into traffic, waiting at stops for growing crowds of passengers . And no, it’s not just your imagination: Buses are doing more waiting, and less moving, than they used to. A recent survey of 11 urban transit systems conducted by Daniel Boyle for the Transportation Research Board found that increased traffic congestion is steadily eroding travel speeds: The average city bus route gets 0.45 percent slower every single year. That’s especially discouraging given how slowly buses already move, with a typical bus averaging only 13.5 mph.
Transit agencies are taking action against the waits. A recent report on “Commonsense Approaches for Improving Transit Bus Speeds ” surveyed not just the scale of the problem, but also solutions. In it, 59 transit agencies across America shared how they have responded to the scheduling problems presented by ever-slower bus routes. The agencies report on the most successful actions they’ve taken to improve bus speeds and reliability. Here they are, listed in descending order of popularity.
Many transit agencies have adopted at least some of these changes. For example, Streetsblog has covered San Francisco Muni’s efforts to consolidate stops , launch limited-stop service , rebuild stops , install signal priority , and use prepaid fares to allow passengers to board at both doors .
The survey also asked about the major constraints that agencies faced when attempting to improve bus speeds. More than a third of them cited a lack of funding and competing priorities within the agency — streamlining a route, for instance, may reduce the area covered by the service. More than one in seven agencies cited a lack of support from other government agencies, like transportation departments in charge of streets and signals (in San Francisco, Muni benefits from being housed within the city’s transportation department). Rider opposition, particularly to removing bus stops, and existing traffic congestion, also thwarted some attempts to streamline bus operations. Interestingly, few agencies cited community opposition or a lack of staff time as constraints.
How can other agencies apply these lessons? The survey also collected advice to transit agencies and communities that are considering these changes. The most often cited lesson is that it’s “extremely important to have high level support at the local municipality” (presumably this means the mayor), and to “adhere to [your community’s] desired expectations of the service they wish to have,” in the words of individual agencies.
Thorough analysis, like starting with the busiest routes and stops, building internal consensus and recognizing speed “as something that the agency has the power to affect,” and persistence were also cited as keys to getting buses up to speed.
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URL to article: http://usa.streetsblog.org/2014/04/18/11-simple-ways-to-speed-up-your-citys-buses/
URLs in this post:
 Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesbondsv/13470355133
 growing crowds of passengers: https://www.google.com/url?q=http://usa.streetsblog.org/2014/03/10/american-transit-ridership-hits-57-year-high/&sa=U&ei=WApPU7iZAcSwyQHVnYH4DQ&ved=0CAYQFjAA&client=internal-uds-cse&usg=AFQjCNEFfYCag5nxYVLiFQPobd4ZY5iC1g
 Commonsense Approaches for Improving Transit Bus Speeds: http://www.trb.org/Publications/Blurbs/170433.aspx
 consolidate stops: http://sf.streetsblog.org/2010/11/03/sfmta-releases-bus-stop-consolidation-plan/
 limited-stop service: http://sf.streetsblog.org/2013/08/08/5-fulton-upgrades-to-include-limited-service-road-diet-and-stop-removal/
 rebuild stops: http://sf.streetsblog.org/category/issues-campaigns/bus-bulb/
 signal priority: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CCwQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fsf.streetsblog.org%2F2012%2F03%2F20%2Fhalf-of-sfs-traffic-signals-to-get-transit-priority-within-two-years%2F&ei=bC5RU7KhK86xyATr3YCAAw&usg=AFQjCNEK5UL-HRifBhmEur3YEO5NGauYtQ&bvm=bv.65058239,d.aWw
 board at both doors: http://sf.streetsblog.org/2012/08/06/one-month-into-all-door-boarding-muni-reports-some-lines-moving-faster/
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