request for information: peak loads into downtown

This question for transit agencies that run high volumes of bus service into a crowded CBD (i.e. downtown) where bus operations are difficult and space limited.  If you know someone at your transit agency who probably has this information, please forward a link to them.

  • Do you have a policy on how full a peak bus should be in order to justify through service into the CBD, as opposed to being fed to a connection point onto a more major line?
  • Do you have figures on how full your buses actually are, crossing the edge of the CBD in the peak direction, over the peak one hour?

Both numbers would be helpful to me in establishing baseline expectations for what degree of loading is reasonable to assume, for the purposes of sizing a long-term radial bus need into a big CBD.


5 Responses to request for information: peak loads into downtown

  1. Simon October 21, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

    An awesome question. I’d be surprised if there was a standard in Sydney or Brisbane, but I can tell you that reports emerging this year show that across the Sydney Harbour Bridge 20 000 passengers use 590 buses in the AM 2 hour peak. That makes an average of about 33.9 people per bus. A fairly mediocre performance really.
    In Brisbane, around 200 buses each across the Victoria and Captain Cook Bridge per hour in the AM peak, but I’m not completely sure how many people are on them.

  2. Simon October 21, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

    Actually, Parramatta Rd is 9000 passengers from 250 buses for 36 passengers per bus average, Western Distributor is 6000 passengers from 160 buses for 37.5 passengers per bus, William St is 2000 passengers from 60 buses for a 33.3 passenger per bus average, via Waterloo has 3000 passengers from 65 buses for an average of 46 passengers per bus, Oxford St + Eastern Distributor + Foveaux St + Campbell St is 12000 passengers from 380 buses for a 31.6 passenger per bus average.
    These figures look far too low to me, but I’ll post them anyway. All figures are for the 2 hour AM peak.

  3. EN57 October 22, 2012 at 3:31 am #

    Wow, that’s great data Simon. Where did you get these reports for Sydney?
    Is the Waterloo group of bus routes the most efficient – or the most overcrowded and miserable for passengers? Both I imagine…
    Would you say that cutting services and frequency on CBD bus routes is the way to improve the “fairly mediocre performance” of buses over the Sydney Harbour Bridge? I guess the performance of private vehicles and the ordinary traffic lanes over the Sydney Harbour Bridge won’t be subject to the same scrutiny?

  4. Steve Lax October 22, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    I don’t think there is a simple answer. Each system is unique. However, here are some questions that should be asked in reviewing the alternatives.
    Does your system have a peak hour load factor target at peak load point on each route?
    Is the peak load point for the routes in question where they enter the CBD or elsewhere along the route?
    If the weaker performing route is shorted, will it overload trips on the more frequent route that receive passengers from the weaker performing route? (For example, the stronger route operates five trips per hour in the peak; but the weaker route would only connect to two of them.)
    Has reverse peak traffic been considered as well? (Where I worked many routes were underperforming in the traditional peak direction inbound to the CBD, but left the CBD with standees in the peak hour.)

  5. Simon October 23, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    Sources are:
    the Infrastructure NSW report for the passenger flows, and the Transport for NSW master plan for the bus numbers. page 96 (? in Adobe) page 100 (26 in Adobe)
    I’m very suspicious of the passenger flow numbers particularly. I don’t know how they handled non-even thousands – was 2999 counted as 2000? STA’s all day average boardings per trip was about 36 last I checked so to get less than average loadings approaching the CBD in peak hour would be a bit unlikely.