Tag Archives: open data

Pulses, Headways, and Hubs

I live on Queen Street, about a 10 minute walk from Charles Street terminal. It’s a 3 minute bus ride though, and the stop outside my building is served by four different routes coming in and out of the terminal. In theory, based on the number of buses passing through each hour, you would expect an average wait of 3.5 minutes (up to 7 minutes) making the bus competitive with walking if I’m in a hurry or the weather is poor.

However, this is not the case. You can often see two or three buses coming one after another down Queen, which means there are up to 16 minutes of no scheduled service at times. We should expect 6.5 minutes of delay based on the number of buses, making taking the bus marginally faster on average. But because of the variations in bus headways, it takes almost twice as long as walking at worst. I can’t simply step out my door and know whether walking or taking the bus at any given time would be faster. Clearly, the bus schedule is not very optimal for wait times near my home. If the departure times between buses travelling to Charles Street were equally spaced, rather than all arriving at once, the bus network could be made more efficient and predictable, for the same amount of service and expense. (more…)

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