March 3, 2012

Bus versus Biking

Yesterday was a windy, dreary day. I biked into work but decided that due to rain and wind that I would bus it home. The problem with that idea is that I am immensely impatient. Waiting for the bus is boring and for whatever reason, a bus stopping at High and Broad appears to stay there for about 3 minutes. I wait at the bus stop downstream of that one and get frustrated seeing the bus at the previous stop miss green light after green light because they are stopped for so long. This is exacerbated since 15 local bus routes use that part of High Street for stops.

My bus was supposed to be at my stop at about 1:35. Because COTA advises to get to your stop 5 minutes early, I was there 5 minutes early because I have seen a few buses leave a couple of minutes early. At 1:40, I decided that I was done waiting. It wasn't raining that hard and that my bike ride home takes about the same time as the bus would and it is $2 cheaper. And guess what, I got home just fine on bike with the light rain and all.

When COTA discusses improving services, I hope that improving dwell time, or the time that a bus spends at a bus stop, would be one of the highest priorities. Since downtown stops are likely more trafficked than others - most buses go downtown so there are a lot of transfers - it would be nice if there was a priority on getting an off-bus fare system, especially downtown.

The moral of the story is that if one is able-bodied and the weather isn't too terrible, one should look into biking to their destination. Biking is often just as fast as public transit and it can be enjoyable.

Cool lead-singer-of-the-Flaming-Lips-gets-into-giant-ball link of the day:


  1. Buses wait at High & Broad to facilitate transfers between routes. It's called a pulse system.

    However, I have also been annoyed by this recovery time/dwell time/pulse issue in downtown. It's worst as a through rider. The bus just stops and waits around for a few minutes when you want to keep going. You don't really know how long it's going to be stopped. If your destination is somewhere in downtown, you sit there wondering if you should get off the bus and start walking or not.

    I think the frequent service routes (#1, #2, #10) should be exempt from the pulse. They come frequently enough that any transferring passengers won't have to wait long for another to arrive.

  2. I figured that some of the explanation would be due to transferring and I can't really begrudge that too much. I guess my problem is more of an outreach problem.

    The schedules for my bus (#3 Northwest/Mound) show it arriving at 1:34 for the Northwest schedule and 1:35 for the Mound schedule. Then the next stop at High and State is 2 minutes and 41 seconds later. This 1 minute "stay" time followed by 2 minutes and 41 second to the next stop is constant throughout the schedule.

    If a bus will take that long to get to the next stop, I would modify the schedule somehow to inform the rider. I would never assume that a stop which is directly after a described stop would take 3 minutes to get to.

    I like your idea for the 1/2/10, especially during the most frequency periods of the day.


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