Archive | July, 2012

Idea of the Day: Bus Bunching

12 Jul
bus_bunching

Flickr photo by skew-t

If you’d come out of Buckhead Station’s north exit around 6:00 p.m. Tuesday you would have noticed two things: first, that there were far more people waiting for the route 110 bus than normal; second, that traffic was sitting absolutely still on Peachtree as far as you could see in both directions.
At 6:15, with the traffic creeping forward a few feet every few minutes and the bus scheduled to arrive at 6:13 nowhere in sight, you would have probably calculated that walking to the gym about a mile south of the station would be the quicker way to get there. But after walking south for about 10 minutes, around the time you were crossing Maple Drive, you would have noticed a route 110 bus heading north, toward the station you just left. You would have then noticed another one – directly behind the first. The first bus was very, very late. The second was almost on schedule.
What you would have seen is called bus bunching.
Bus bunching occurs when traffic or another delay slows down a bus’ progress along its route so much that the amount of the delay, as it’s compounded by the time required to stop and pick up passengers, exceeds the scheduled time between that bus and the one behind it. As the first bus continues along the route, it falls farther and farther behind schedule, as it has to keep stopping to pick up passengers. The second bus rarely has to stop, as there are very few or no passengers at all to pick up. Eventually the second bus is moving along the route so quickly that it catches up to the first one.  The shorter the headway, the more risk there is for bunching.
WABE and CNN recently posted stories about scientists at Georgia Tech who have developed an anti-bunching technique that relies less on schedules and more on calculated, adjustable delays coordinated by GPS. The system will be fully rolled out for the university’s Stinger Shuttle Tech Trolley system this fall and the developers say they’ve already been contacted by transit authorities here and abroad who are interested in implementing something similar.

Things People Say If You Mention Walking Home from Work

1 Jul
  1. “You do what?”
  2. “At night?”
  3. “By yourself?”
  4. “Aren’t you scared?”
  5. “In the heat/cold?”
  6. “Are you crazy/serious/kidding?”
  7. “All the way home?”
  8. “How far is that?”
  9. “It takes how long?”
  10. “Thirty-five minutes is a long time”
  11. “Do you have mace/pepper spray/a gun?”
  12. Why?”
  13. “You live down here?”

Regional rider surveys reveal locations, destinations, situations

1 Jul

Lindbergh Station_south end

Research from the Atlanta Regional Commission suggests that while geography is a pretty good predictor of where to find the most frequent transit users, who those users are is harder to pin down.

The ARC’s research concluded that “the percent of those using transit to go to work doubles in neighborhoods with close proximity to transit, and more than triples in areas with ‘premium’ transit access.” In short, to paraphrase William Whyte, people tend to use transit where there is transit to use.

Those “premium” transit areas, which the researchers define as neighborhoods within a half-mile of a transit station, tend to be populated by a higher percentage of college graduates and renters than the 20-county Atlanta metropolitan region as a whole. But those areas also have more residents living in poverty and who have less than a high-school diploma compared to the rest of the region.

Despite their easy access to transit, only about 13 percent of the people who live in those transit-rich neighborhoods said that they usually take transit to work. But that relatively small number is still close to four times more than the region as a whole, at less than 4 percent.

People between the ages of 18 and 34 make up more than 52 percent of transit riders, while they make up only 24 percent of the region’s total population. Most of the trips riders took – almost 62 percent – were between home and work or school.

Although 71 percent of the surveyed riders said they had a driver’s license, 41 percent said they didn’t have a vehicle available. At the other end of the spectrum, 27 percent of riders lived in households with at least two available vehicles.

The survey also found that about 51 percent of transit riders had household incomes of less than $30,000. That’s more than twice the percentage of households in the region as a whole falling into that income range.

See a full summary of the data in the ARC’s May “Regional Snapshot.”

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