Adopt better methods to keep buses on schedule

Chronic issues often disrupt scheduled bus service, resulting in buses that are late, bunched together, or even missing entirely. Once a bus is off schedule, problems tend to snowball, causing service to deteriorate further. Real-time vehicle-location data can now be used to empower dispatchers and drivers alike to make service more reliable.

Implement headway-based control for frequent buses to empower dispatchers and drivers to make real-time adjustments. For frequent routes, maintaining even spacing between buses is key. Allowing dispatchers to occasionally hold a bus at a stop or instruct another bus to skip a stop improves service for the greatest number of riders.

Once buses are on the road, intervene early when they get off track. In cities with the most reliable buses, dispatchers are in constant communication with drivers to modify service and keep buses on schedule. Such intervention is standard practice in New York subways, but not on the city’s buses. MTA bus control centers should not only respond to discrete incidents, but also be able to intervene when reliability and consistency of service are compromised.

Ensure that buses depart from the terminal on time. Frequent late starts at the beginning of runs make it difficult for buses to provide service at the expected times and with even spacing.

Two Bx6 Buses arrive together at a stop in the Bronx. Frequent bus bunching is a sign of unreliable service, leading to long waits at bus stops for some passengers while several buses arrive at once at other stops.