Jump to content


Attention: In order to reply to messages, create topics, have access to other features of the community you must sign up for an account.
Sign in to follow this  
N6 Limited

Montreal public transit: Overcrowding getting worse with fewer buses on roads

Recommended Posts

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/bus-overcrowding-stm-1.3454141  
 
  Montreal public transit: Overcrowding getting worse with fewer buses on roads

 

A mother and daughter are shivering on a Monday afternoon on Jean-Talon Street. They've been waiting in the cold for 25 minutes for the bus.

When the 141 finally comes, it speeds past them without stopping.

"It's normal," said the mother. "We usually have to let two or three go by."

On a Tuesday morning on l'Assomption Street, Béatrice Laporte Roy waits in line for nearly 15 minutes for bus 131. The doors close before she can board. The vehicle is jammed full, right to the doors.

"It's quite common," Laporte Roy said. "Either the bus doesn't come, or it can't get everyone on board, which means that on the next stops, it will keep going because it can't take anybody else."

'Soon it will be like in India, and we'll have to ride on the roof,'- STM bus passenger Béatrice Laporte Roy

"We are crammed in like animals," piped in Lamia Salhi, a regular passenger on line 18 on Beaubien Street. "Soon it will be like in India, and we'll have to ride on the roof. It's become unbearable."

And it's only been getting worse in the past two years, she said.

"For the first time in 15 years that I use public transit, I'm thinking about taking a car to get to work," Salhi added.

Fewer buses on the road

Since 2012, the total number of kilometres traveled by all Montreal buses has gone down year after year, which means there are fewer buses on the streets.

One reason is Montreal's aging bus fleet. About of a quarter of all buses are under repair at any given time.

stm-kilometres-chart.png

Total kilometres travelled by all buses has fallen since 2012. (Source: STM. Graphic: Radio-Canada)

At the same time, the number of passengers transported by the STM has increased continuously.

passengers-chart-stm.png

The number of passengers has gone up in two years. (Source: STM. Graphic: Radio-Canada)

Every time a bus is too full to take on new passengers, drivers are supposed to alert their managers.

CBC's French-language service, Radio-Canada, obtained a document from the STM that lists all the instances of overcrowding for the first four days of February.

Drivers don't bother signalling overcrowding anymore

The drivers who took the time to fill out the paperwork reported 170 cases.

This is just the tip of the iceberg because most drivers interviewed by Radio-Canada said they never bothered making a report, the problem being so common.

According to this document, a dozen lines suffer overcrowding several times a day, especially the 51 Edouard-Montpetit, 18 Beaubien and 141 Jean-Talon. This map shows the worst ones.

crowded-lines-map.JPG

The most overcrowded bus lines in the first four days of February. (CartoDB)

Tap or click here for an interactive version of the map.

Transport 2000, an association of public transit users, has been receiving more reports of overcrowding. It says drivers have also been complaining more.

"Often, on line 24 Sherbrooke, I am full after three stops," one driver's complaint noted.

"When users are angry, they complain to us, but we had nothing to do with it," another driver said.

Drivers also tell the association that the bus schedules often do not correspond with reality. Many buses simply don't get deployed, and a single missing bus means the next ones will be crammed.

"It's getting worse. We're leaving more people behind than before… Users don't complain enough to the STM, and when they complain, they are not heard," said  Renato Carlone, president of the union of bus drivers and Metro operators.

"It creates stress, negative comments, assaults, burnout, absenteeism, accidents, fines," Carlone said. This, in turn, creates a vicious circle as absent drivers are not always replaced, which means the bus is taken out of circulation, and the delays pile up, he said.

Same problem in Metro

Philippe Schnobb, the president of the STM, knows the problem well, since he is also a Metro user.

"Last week, I missed three trains before I could get on," he admitted in an interview last October where he was asked to explain the delays and shortage of buses.

amelie-regis.jpg

Amélie Régis, spokesperson for the STM. (Radio-Canada)

STM spokeswoman Amélie Regis recognizes there's a problem on certain routes and at certain times of the day. Technological upgrades will help the agency better measure usage and plan accordingly, she said.

"In 2016, we'll have a more detailed analysis of traffic to adjust the service where it is really needed," Régis said.

Currently, only 20 per cent of buses have counting devices.

The new I-bus mobile application expected later this year will let users know where each bus is located on the territory in real time.

"It will allow us to better regulate the service and adjust the service when necessary," Régis said.

She also urged passengers to complain when they experience problems, since these are used in the STM's analysis of needs.

Pilot project for boarding through rear doors

Inspired by what is done in other major cities, the STM will conduct a test this spring on one bus line, letting users board through the rear and middle doors.

This will be restricted to passengers with unlimited, monthly and weekly passes.

The drivers' union is worried about the idea, fearing it could encourage fraud and imperil passenger safety.

 

Getting flagged sucks.

Boarding through rear doors will help, many times people don't move back and there is room in the back.

  • Upvote 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Regardless of anybody's opinions regarding SBS, you have to admit, that's definitely an advantage compared to regular buses: Since you can board through the rear door, you'll only be left behind if the bus is truly overcrowded, and you determine that you can't fit on. (Also, since SBS only stops at the busy stops, you're basically guaranteed that the bus will stop so you can at least attempt to get on, though you can argue that is the case on most limited-stop routes)

 

Let's be real, the MTA schedules it's buses to have a certain number of passengers on an average bus within a given 30 minute interval, so if you get flagged, their response is often going to be that the average bus isn't above the guidelines, even if the typical bus is jam-packed in the front (where the B/O is, and where the passengers normally board) and has ample room in the back. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Regardless of anybody's opinions regarding SBS, you have to admit, that's definitely an advantage compared to regular buses: Since you can board through the rear door, you'll only be left behind if the bus is truly overcrowded, and you determine that you can't fit on. (Also, since SBS only stops at the busy stops, you're basically guaranteed that the bus will stop so you can at least attempt to get on, though you can argue that is the case on most limited-stop routes)

 

Let's be real, the MTA schedules it's buses to have a certain number of passengers on an average bus within a given 30 minute interval, so if you get flagged, their response is often going to be that the average bus isn't above the guidelines, even if the typical bus is jam-packed in the front (where the B/O is, and where the passengers normally board) and has ample room in the back. 

Three things: 

1) Many times the average bus is above loading guidelines and that's when service gets added.

2) Guideline loads also have a headway and network function component where guideline loads for low headway routes are higher than for mid and high headway routes while feeder routes are afforded higher loads then grid routes. What the MTA may consider overcrowded on one route may not be for another while riders consider crowded buses to be crowded buses regardless of what route it is. 

3) Guideline loads do not provide a 100% clear picture of crowding. If in a 2 bus sample you have 100 riders where 70 riders are on one bus and 30 are on the other, 70 riders are on the bus above guideline loads and 30 were on the one below. This means that 70% of the riders experienced overcrowding and thus 70% of the riders will think the route in question is overcrowded if such happens on a consistent basis. The average bus carried 50 passengers but none of the riders are able to determine that based on the loads of the buses they themselves used. There are better ways to determine where overcrowding is occurring in the system. A better picture of crowding would include stats like the percentage of riders on buses exceeding guideline loads, percentage of buses which exceed guideline loads, percentage of revenue hours buses are in excess of guideline loads (this requires looking beyond peak load points since duration of crowding is the main concern). On low headway routes where you're likely to be providing some service that misses the crowds since riders will show up at random times and service gaps will fluctuate along the line it's better to take a more in-depth look at the crowding to see if you are running the right amount of buses. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Guideline loads also have a headway and network function component where guideline loads for low headway routes are higher than for mid and high headway routes while feeder routes are afforded higher loads then grid routes. What the MTA may consider overcrowded on one route may not be for another while riders consider crowded buses to be crowded buses regardless of what route it is. 

 

The guidelines don't call for the bus to be completely full. I think the guidelines call for 48 passengers per bus on a grid route, and 54 passengers per bus on a feeder route (assuming 40-foot buses). The average bus can easily hold 65-70 people. At that point, I think the passengers and MTA can agree that the bus is overcrowded.

 

3) Guideline loads do not provide a 100% clear picture of crowding. If in a 2 bus sample you have 100 riders where 70 riders are on one bus and 30 are on the other, 70 riders are on the bus above guideline loads and 30 were on the one below. This means that 70% of the riders experienced overcrowding and thus 70% of the riders will think the route in question is overcrowded if such happens on a consistent basis. The average bus carried 50 passengers but none of the riders are able to determine that based on the loads of the buses they themselves used. There are better ways to determine where overcrowding is occurring in the system. A better picture of crowding would include stats like the percentage of riders on buses exceeding guideline loads, percentage of buses which exceed guideline loads, percentage of revenue hours buses are in excess of guideline loads (this requires looking beyond peak load points since duration of crowding is the main concern). On low headway routes where you're likely to be providing some service that misses the crowds since riders will show up at random times and service gaps will fluctuate along the line it's better to take a more in-depth look at the crowding to see if you are running the right amount of buses. 

 

The thing is that those stats tell you if you're managing your buses correctly with respect to spacing and load balancing (maybe some short-turns are warranted or something to that effect). 

 

If in a given 30 minute period, you need 6 buses (5 minute headways) to handle the loads, but the spacing is more like 8/2/3/10/1, then you are, indeed running the appropriate number of buses, but doing a rather poor job of spacing them out. So in that case, the answer isn't to run more buses, the answer is to take measures to try and spread the passenger loads (battery runs, short-turns, etc). On a high-frequency route, the passengers themselves share some responsibility in getting themselves onto a reasonably crowded vehicle. If for example, another bus dropped a large crowd off at a transfer point, the prudent thing might be to just wait a few minutes for the next bus, or else you can't really blame the MTA if you find yourself on an overcrowded bus unless the MTA isn't scheduling enough services and you can be fairly sure that the next few buses will also be overcrowded.

 

I agree that those statistics give you a better picture of the distribution of crowding, but passengers and the MTA are going to have to accept that a certain amount of buses are indeed going to be overcrowded. 

Edited by checkmatechamp13

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The guidelines don't call for the bus to be completely full. I think the guidelines call for 48 passengers per bus on a grid route, and 54 passengers per bus on a feeder route (assuming 40-foot buses). The average bus can easily hold 65-70 people. At that point, I think the passengers and MTA can agree that the bus is overcrowded.

 
 

 

The thing is that those stats tell you if you're managing your buses correctly with respect to spacing and load balancing (maybe some short-turns are warranted or something to that effect). 

 

If in a given 30 minute period, you need 6 buses (5 minute headways) to handle the loads, but the spacing is more like 8/2/3/10/1, then you are, indeed running the appropriate number of buses, but doing a rather poor job of spacing them out. So in that case, the answer isn't to run more buses, the answer is to take measures to try and spread the passenger loads (battery runs, short-turns, etc). On a high-frequency route, the passengers themselves share some responsibility in getting themselves onto a reasonably crowded vehicle. If for example, another bus dropped a large crowd off at a transfer point, the prudent thing might be to just wait a few minutes for the next bus, or else you can't really blame the MTA if you find yourself on an overcrowded bus unless the MTA isn't scheduling enough services and you can be fairly sure that the next few buses will also be overcrowded.

 

I agree that those statistics give you a better picture of the distribution of crowding, but passengers and the MTA are going to have to accept that a certain amount of buses are indeed going to be overcrowded. 

The problem is that if the spacing is poor enough you could have buses with passenger loads of 20 passengers or lower in the sample of buses being observed. Even if most buses are carrying 54 passengers or above all it takes is a couple of 20 counts to drop the average load low enough to where the MTA may want to cut service. If you have a crushloaded bus with 70 passengers and right behind it a bus with only 20 passengers on, the average load between them is 45. That's below the guideline of 54 passengers so the MTA may want to cut service. On a high frequency route where most buses will be closer to the 70 than 20 what incentive would passengers have to wait for the bus with 20 passengers unless they were flagged or both buses were seen pulling in together?

In statistics means are sensitive to outliers and low-end outliers like empty buses weigh just as heavily as the other buses being counted. On low headway routes the median bus load (the load that half of buses meet/exceed and half do not) is more of an accurate picture of what's going on then the pure average because it is possible to have half of buses meeting or exceeding loading guidelines while the average is below the guidelines. If you have a low headway artic route with a guideline load of 85 passengers and the sample of buses comes up 85, 90, 100, 62, 50, 100 the average comes to 81.1 passengers. That's below the guidelines but more than half of buses either met or exceeded the guideline. 81 is close enough to 85 where service wouldn't be cut anyway but you get the point. 

 

I think we've hijacked this Montreal thread enough. Unless someone here can speak on city specific situations i've said enough.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The problem is that if the spacing is poor enough you could have buses with passenger loads of 20 passengers or lower in the sample of buses being observed. Even if most buses are carrying 54 passengers or above all it takes is a couple of 20 counts to drop the average load low enough to where the MTA may want to cut service. If you have a crushloaded bus with 70 passengers and right behind it a bus with only 20 passengers on, the average load between them is 45. That's below the guideline of 54 passengers so the MTA may want to cut service. On a high frequency route where most buses will be closer to the 70 than 20 what incentive would passengers have to wait for the bus with 20 passengers unless they were flagged or both buses were seen pulling in together?

In statistics means are sensitive to outliers and low-end outliers like empty buses weigh just as heavily as the other buses being counted. On low headway routes the median bus load (the load that half of buses meet/exceed and half do not) is more of an accurate picture of what's going on then the pure average because it is possible to have half of buses meeting or exceeding loading guidelines while the average is below the guidelines. If you have a low headway artic route with a guideline load of 85 passengers and the sample of buses comes up 85, 90, 100, 62, 50, 100 the average comes to 81.1 passengers. That's below the guidelines but more than half of buses either met or exceeded the guideline. 81 is close enough to 85 where service wouldn't be cut anyway but you get the point. 

 

I think we've hijacked this Montreal thread enough. Unless someone here can speak on city specific situations i've said enough.

 

Well, it's relevant here, since I'm sure Montreal's transit agency has guidelines the same way the MTA does, and applies them in a similar manner. Flagging, uneven spacing, and overcrowding aren't unique concepts to any transit agency.

 

In the article, you had one example of somebody waiting 25 minutes for a #141 and 15 minutes for a #131 and still not being able to fit on. 

 

I looked at the #141 schedule and buses are running every 5 minutes for most of the day. (There appear to be some scheduled gaps that are a little wider. at certain points. I'm not familiar with the route, so I don't know if those are short-turns, which lead to uneven service further down, which may be one of the things contributing to bunching and uneven loads). 

 

So if somebody's waiting 25 minutes for a bus, that's 5 full intervals. The first bus after that gap (and probably the second and third bus) are likely to be jam-packed). Straight-up adding more service probably isn't the answer. Adding some strategically-placed short-turns, or short-turning buses that are running late (or maybe a few spares placed at key points) is likely to help more.

 

The #131 seems to be less frequent (every 8-10 minutes rush hour and 20-30 minutes off-peak), so it may simply be an issue of not enough buses scheduled period.

 

Also remember that the guidelines have a certain amount of cushioning in them. Buses aren't scheduled to be filled precisely to their crushloaded capacity. So even if more buses are above the guideline load, the idea is that you have enough buses to accommodate all the passengers without having to wait unreasonably long. So if the bus is scheduled to run every 5 minutes, and one bus gets hit with a ton of passengers transferring off the subway and gets crushloaded, the flagged passengers should only have to wait 5 minutes for a bus. Or worse-case scenario, 10 minutes if the second bus is also crushloaded. But when people are waiting 25 minutes for a bus, and there's missing buses involved (like on the #141), that's a completely different issue.

 

Here's the Montreal bus schedules for anybody who's interested.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i'm a bus driver for montreal transit, to answer checkmate's post, the 141 does not have short turns, there is only one route, full or not, we continue on it. that being said, there is a major bunching problem but most of the problem is attributed to passenger not cooperating (insiting to get on the first bus fully packed even if another 141 is at the same stop right behind) . on other routes with lots of charge, depending on where in the city we are, people  wait for the next bus knowing there is another on in 3 minutes (105 sherbrooke west is a good exemple and you don't see it in the report here because of that)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.