The PI has an interesting article about how Metro buses are falling late more than before because of the increased ridership. A bus is considered “not on-time” if it’s more than five minutes late, and the on-time percentage for buses is down to 74%, and overcrowding is to blame:
Two or three more people boarding or leaving a bus at a stop or elbowing past standees might add only seconds to the delay, but over the length of a route, it adds up, Obeso said. If the cumulative effect makes the bus more than five minutes late to a scheduled stop, the bus is categorized as not on time.
Bus ridership has gone up significantly over the last few years, driven by growth in population and employment and by increases in the cost of driving a vehicle because of rising gasoline prices. In 2007, Metro recorded 110 million passenger boardings, which was an all-time high and 7 percent more than in 2006.
Meanwhile, on-time performance has declined, dipping to a 12-month average of 74 percent in early 2007, the latest period for which Metro provided information.
It does seem Metro is working on solutions, and one of them strikes me as only too obvious.
Metro also applies other strategies to keep the buses running on time. In arrangements coordinated with city traffic engineers, some buses are equipped with devices that send a signal to traffic-light controls when nearing an intersection so that the light will stay green for a few extra seconds to let the bus through.
Other bus-borne devices can trigger a red light for the curb lane to turn green a few seconds before all lanes get the green light, allowing a bus to pull away from the curb and merge into the travel lanes ahead of the traffic flow.
Metro also expects to take delivery in April of 22 60-foot articulated buses bought with the proceeds of a sales tax voters approved in 2006, allowing for expanded service.
The agency would like more riders to buy prepaid passes — and plans to introduce passes in the form of plastic cards embedded with computer chips detectable by proximity sensors — to “make the transaction quicker at the door,” Obeso said. And it will experiment with systems that let passengers board at any door on the bus.
Want people to buy more bus passes? Install pass vending machines at park-and-rides and in the transit tunnel. It’d be an easy way to ensure people have the proper fare when the bus comes around.