Request for Information: Inspiring Uses of Data to Explain Bus Service Priorites

For a research project I’m doing, I’m looking for especially inspiring examples of a public transit authority using performance data to explain why they are deploying some services and not others, in the context of limited resources.  I’m especially interested in examples of efforts that:

  • Explain the goals that underlie the service decisions, and how these intersect with the data to produce decisions.
  • Help the public see whole-of-network consequences of service decisions, rather than just talking about the performance of each line or route as though it were a separate product.

In this effort, I’m not thinking about service redesigns, so much as everyday decisions about how much to prioritize improvements to one area rather than another, given lots of needs and limited resources.

Welcome your thoughts in the comments.  Thanks!

6 Responses to Request for Information: Inspiring Uses of Data to Explain Bus Service Priorites

  1. Ruediger Herold July 18, 2023 at 12:36 pm #

    (“faster through Hamburg, Germany”)
    Although this is not quite the answer to your question.
    It’s about involving, informing and explaining to the public where and where not and why and why not and how new U-Bahn lines and stations are planned and built. Sometimes it’s about a wishful lift or stairs that cannot be built because the platform would be to too long or too short.
    2. I just found out on (“towntraffic Luebeck, Germany”) that there’ll run additional late busses from Travemuende beach, where a sailing event (or big party) is going to take place, to Luebeck ZOB hub where only 2 busses will take as many passengers as possible to their beds. The southern bus line map looks a lot weirder than the northern one. It’s clear to me as a local and a reader of this blog that reasons are population density, topography, busses cannot turn everywhere etc. But it’s not explained. And I guess it could be easy to explain that 3 busses would very much make sense due to geography and, maybe, 4 or more would not.

  2. Nathan Davidowicz July 19, 2023 at 8:15 am #

    Each Transit System has different service design guidelines.

    No consistent method. However at some cities there are very good councillors that ask many questions and do not give FREE HAND to staff ( Like it is done in TransLink BC ) to implement anything they want.
    Most Transit Systems in Canada operate differently than TransLink BC

  3. John Charles Wilson July 23, 2023 at 1:24 pm #

    One metric that more transit systems should use is load factor, the ratio of passengers to seats, either at the fullest part of the route, or as an average at various places along the way, such as timepoints.

    Passengers per hour seems to be the most common metric, followed by passengers per mile. While this is great for financial efficiency, it can lead to poor customer service. For example, an express bus that takes one hour and carries an average of 50 people on a 50-seat bus per trip, but with most people riding the entire way, would have a PPH of 50 and a load factor of 100%. An urban local bus that takes one hour and has people getting on and off essentially every block may well have a PPH of over 100, but could still have a load factor under 100%, especially if averaged over the entire route. The transit agency, if it looks solely at PPH, may prioritize the local for more service though the express is just as, or possibly more, crowded.

  4. Scott Albrecht July 28, 2023 at 10:47 am #

    I’m not sure I would call it inspiring, but Grand River Transit (Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada) cited boardings-per-hour when cutting two routes. The plan from the agency is here:
    Of course the local newspaper found someone who would be affected by the cut: (might be behind a paywall).

  5. Willem September 19, 2023 at 1:20 pm #

    Definitely something I’m hoping will happen here in Calgary with their Route Ahead plan. Access (and other network-level ideas) are somewhat missing from the discussion thus far.

  6. connections game October 1, 2023 at 7:55 pm #

    There is no regular process. However, in other cities, there are excellent council members who ask pertinent questions and do not give staff the free hand (as is the case with TransLink BC) to do as they like.
    TransLink BC is not typical of Canada’s transit systems.