Request for Info – Work Start and End Times

The time people report going to or coming home from work has a significant impact on transit operations. As we all likely know, if many travel at once, overloads are possible, but service might not be available if few travel to or from work at a specific time.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released this table in 2004, twelve years ago. While this table is still useful (for instance, more people reported going to work around 6 am than all full-time workers between 10:30 and 3:30, which suggests that early-morning service may be more useful for workers than more mid-day service), it is outdated; search efforts to find a newer table have not been successful. Does anyone know if a more current edition of this information is available?

A Leading Presidential Candidate Releases Statement on Seattle’s new rail line

New York – A leading presidential candidate released this statement today, weeks after Seattle opened up its light rail extension.

What a great train line. Such a beautiful train. America doesn’t build trains like this anymore. We lose on trains. When I’m President, we will build great trains. Beautiful trains. Long trains. The longest trains. Trains so long that nobody can question the length of anything else of mine. We will be the train leaders.

Our trains are the greatest. Our streets are the greatest. We have the greatest streets. Unfortunately, we let the worst people onto the greatest streets. Bicyclists. They wear funny hats, break our laws, and just don’t seem to care about our transit culture. Now, some of these bicyclists are okay. Some of these bicyclists are ridden by kids. We love kids. But when I’m president, we will build a large, beautiful wall around all the bike stores, and we will make Schwinn pay for it! The bike lobby will be schwinned when we start winning again.

We got a death problem that we need to face. Thirty-thousand or more people die from attacks caused by cars. And what does the President do about this tragedy? Nothing. Our president refuses to even call it what it is, the “war on cars”. I will lead the war on cars. That is why I am, today, proposing a complete and total ban on any private automobile travel in this city until we can figure out what is going on. Now, my opponents might call me a bit extreme, but we can make exemptions. This country always makes exemptions; I know how to make the best exemptions. We can exempt fancy cars like Ferraris and outlaw every other car. This is how we win the war on cars. We will win when I’m President.

This line is the best rail line in the world. We will build great lines like this throughout this great nation. We won’t get fooled like we have every year on this date. We will win, and we will make our trains great again.

The Role of Late-Night Bus Service

Generally speaking, late-night transit usage can be divided into four market segments; employment, recreation, shelter-seekers, and non-users.
In general, not very many shift changes occur between Midnight and 6 am, with the notable exceptions of shift ends in the hospitality, restaurant, and transportation industries until about 2-3 am, and shift starts in transportation and related service industries beginning at about 4 am. Absent any other noticeable industry influences (i.e. one-industry towns), any shift patterns not listed above are not common enough to be the basis of economical transit planning.

Recreational customers are essentially identical to hospitality and service employees in their trip patterns, but leave slightly earlier (the employees have to stay to clean up after their customers go home). This market segment is more likely travelling on Friday and Saturday nights (early morning Saturday and Sunday), as well as on the eves of certain holidays, and conversely are less likely to travel on nights preceding a work or school day. The above two groups share the same common travel characteristic that they are moving away from destinations in the very early hours, with that flow decreasing as a flow of customers towards destinations increases closer to daytime.

In many cases, all-night service attracts people in seek of shelter due to homelessness, domestic abuse, etc. These customers tend to favor long, uninterrupted round-trip runs where they are able to sleep most effectively, essentially turning the bus into a roving shelter. Route 22 in San José has been referred to as “Hotel 22” due to the clientele; customers are riding because the bus is a shelter, not because the bus is transportation (for that specific trip). As heartbreaking it is to see the pictures of the 10-year-old girl slouched over bus seats, as well as read the stories of the various people in seek of shelter, and as important as addressing homelessness is as a public policy initiative, the practical reality is that transit firms are not, nor should not, be in the business of combating broader social issues. Transit firms are in no position to offer the services homeless or temporarily dislocated people need, and from a public policy perspective should make no effort to present any image in the collective public mindset that they are a good shelter resource.

While technically not customers now, the fourth market segment of note are people who would use transit service for other purposes. Most people are in bed, or at least home, between 1am-5am; the bus line could run every 5 minutes, once an hour, or not at all and it would not affect travel habits of the majority; if a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to hear it…. For people with no car availability who do need to suddenly travel at night, inelastic but rare demand for immediate night travel is best met with taxicabs and similar on-demand services.

When the above is taken into account the “symbolic” service offered by the MBTA on a 15-20 minute headway, but only until 3 am is likely superior to service every 30-60 minutes but at all times. More potential customers are in a place to use frequent service to return home than infrequent service offered at times they have no need to travel.

(Note: Copied nearly verbatim from my comment on the Amateur Planner’s post on the MBTA’s late-night service trial.)

Spot the ADA violation(s)

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This is on a New Flyer Articulated coach, operating in Boulder, Colorado on the University of Colorado Buff Bus route. First person to find one of the violations this bus has of the Americans with Disabilities Act (I can identify two; if you can find another one I haven’t thought of and justify it, I will accept that answer) will win the group a historical bilingual bonus from this bus.

EDIT: Commentor John Slyfield chimed in with a correct answer. The next picture may explain more (apologies for the blurriness):

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Without measuring, the two violations of note are:

1. The aisle may be too narrow for a wheelchair or similar device to fit. Only the front door has a ramp; a passenger in a wheelchair couldn’t use the second door because of the height difference between the curb and bus floor.

2. No forward-facing securement location is available (the ADA requires no less than two forward or rearward facing securement locations, but at least one must allow securement facing forward).

My conjecture is that the bus in question is a second-hand coach from a Canadian operator, probably either Ontario or Manitoba (a Quebec bus would have the French on top). Because Canadians aren’t Americans and are thus not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, universal access law is left up to the provinces to write, which allows for differences in standards between the United States and Canadian provinces to be introduced. If an agency wanted to have bilingual stop request signs, Spanish would have likely been chosen instead, as local Spanish speakers far outweigh French speakers. Another giveaway is the English message is “Exit at Rear”; the Buff Bus is fare free and the operator opens all three doors at all stops, allowing passengers to board and alight though all doors.

The Space Fallacy of Aisle-Facing Seating

On urban bus routes, interior capacity is often cited as a pressing issue. A frequently proposed solution is to reconfigure the interior of transit vehicles to use more aisle-facing seats instead of forward-facing benches. In theory, aisle-facing seats use up less space, which provides more interior standing room and space to maneuver the carts, strollers, and various objects customers bring on board.

In theory. In practice. . .

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This picture was taken aboard an evening-peak NABI 60-BRT vehicle on the MAX route, operated by Transfort (Fort Collins, Colorado). In front of the rear wheel-well is a forward-facing pair of seats, with three aisle-facing seats occupying the wheelchair securement location. According to the website of the seat manufacturer, transverse (forward-facing) rows are manufactured to be between 35-37 inches in width, resulting in an individual seat width of 17 to 19 inches.

Notice how the feet of passengers sitting in aisle-facing seats protrude more into the aisle than the passenger in the transverse row.  The aisle-facing seats above the wheel-well have a gap behind them, as the wheel-well is wider than the length of a seat; but the seats in front of the transverse row are up against the interior sidewall. The customer in the transverse seat protrudes slightly into the aisle, perhaps an inch or two, and also has their foot rotated slightly outward into the aisle. In comparison, the foot of the customer in the aisle-facing seat protrudes further into the aisle.

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