Too Many Bus Stops

busCTA buses stop too often.  Commutes could be sped up dramatically if bus lines simply removed some of the stops. This would not only help passengers, but also improve the flow of traffic on some of Chicago’s busiest streets.

Take for example, the 22 Bus. This bus starts at Howard and travels approximately 9 miles down Clark to Polk, making approximately 80 stops along the way. Many of these stops are absolutely necessary. I would not recommend eliminating stops that are more than one block apart or stops that are at major arteries. So, in the case of the 22, it would not make sense to remove the stop at Armitage, where there are tall apartment buildings and where the 22 connects with the Armitage 73 bus, but the stop one short block north on Dickens could absolutely be eliminated and the passengers who get on or off at this stop should be asked to get off a little further north at Webster or further south at Armitage.

These small, less efficient stops account for about 30 of the 80 stops on the route. If they were eliminated you could end the phenomenon of a single passenger stopping a crowded bus either to get on or off, you would also make boarding and exiting more efficient on a per/rider basis by taking on more at once.

How Much Time Would You Save  

Travel times are not completely dependent on how many stops there are, other factors include traffic, lights and the number of passengers. So eliminating 40% of the stops would not translate into a 40% reduction in travel time. That said, loading more people on the bus at fewer stops would have a marked improvement, not only because transactions happen more quickly at more crowded stops where riders have time to get cards out as they wait to board, but there is less acceleration and deceleration if buses aren’t forced to make “low impact stops” they will spend more time traveling faster.

The impact of these improvements is difficult to guess, but I would imagine a 20% decrease in travel time over the full journey of the bus during peak riding time is a conservative estimate. This improvement would not have a large effect on travel times during off hours as buses already ski
p stops that aren’t requested and don’t have people waiting at them. But, it would have maximum impact during the time when buses are serving the most people

Too Much of a Good Thing

I can hear the, “Not in my backyard” complaints already. Anyone would be happy to get rid of a stop they don’t use, but if this makes taking the bus less convenient for those who live at less used stops, then ultimately your transit system may serve fewer people and do less good. That’s why only stops between other stops one block away should be eliminated. Under this system the person whose stop is eliminated, likely makes up their extra walking time on medium and longer bus trips.

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