Thursday, December 06, 2012

One way we could speed up the buses in Victoria

At certain locations in Greater Victoria there are almost always large numbers of people wanting to board buses and this slows down the time for the buses to get through their route.    Places like along Douglas Street downtown have numerous stops that are not at the end of the route but experience high demand.    When you need to have 10 to 20 people enter a bus at a stop like at Douglas between Yates and Johnson the time it takes for everyone to board the bus has a noticeable impact on the time for the bus to complete the route.   There is an answer - install fare payment stations at the major bus stops.  

There has been some studying done on this idea which was presented in a paper at the Canadian Transportation Research Forum 47th Annual Conference held in June in Calgary.  Leila Dianat and Yousef Shafahi presented a paper called: “A Practical Model for Minimizing Waiting Time in a Transit Network”.

The idea is that people would buy their ticket at the bus stop before boarding or swipe their passes at the bus stop.   They would then be able to enter the bus at both the front and back doors.  It is the multiple entry points coupled with no slowing down at the farebox that speeds up time it takes for the bus to get going.  

The paper indicates that at busy bus stops the bus dwell time is reduced by 77% by this idea for buses with two doors.   This is the model currently used in Vancouver by the BLine buses and is one of the reasons they move much faster than traditional buses.   The BLine buses have an advantage over ours here in having three doors to allow people to board the bus through.

An average northbound bus on Douglas has about three to four major bus stops that slow it down.   This system would allow for the most time savings during the busiest time of day.    At the moment it takes about 90 seconds for a bus to deal with a busy bus stop.   If this were to drop to 30 seconds that saves about 3-4 minutes on a trip.  

This may not sound like a lot, but with close to 90 buses passing through Yates northbound on Douglas during the peak hour in the afternoon, this would be just over five hours of bus operation time - that is a savings of $500 to $600 during that one hour of operation.  It means that BC Transit effectively increases their peak time fleet capacity 3-5% without adding any new buses.  

The small time savings would also make buses that more desirable for the public.  Saving a total of 7 minutes a day on your commute of about 90 minutes round trip sounds like very little but does mean your commute is  close to 8% faster, enough time to have a cup of coffee.   Over a year it is 26 hours of your time.  Slightly faster buses mean an increase in use which means more revenues.
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