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Author Topic: Bus timekeeping in lockdown  (Read 629 times)
Bmblbzzz
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« on: March 30, 2020, 08:16:23 pm »

I'm an extremely infrequent bus traveller at the best of times so this is purely observation from the outside and therefore liable to all sorts of distortion. It seems to me that the buses which run up and down Gloucester Road in Bristol from the centre towards Filton and vice versa (basically the 71 to 76) are now spending much more time waiting at stops. This isn't the normal dwell time, they aren't loading passengers, just waiting. It occurs to me that this might be due to the twin effects of few passengers and little traffic meaning they spend less time moving between stops and so have to wait at some stops in order not to get too far ahead of the timetable. Is that likely? Or is it another reason? Or have I just happened to see this in the (obviously little) time I've been out?

*Edited to add bus numbers.
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froome
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« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2020, 08:56:39 pm »

Bus timetables are set for what might be deemed normal traffic conditions, so when traffic is very light and passenger numbers are also very low (so that it needs less time at stops), as is the situation now, buses will get ahead of the time they should arrive at bus stops. I think they have set stops which they are timed at, so that they may go past a few without stopping, but when they reach the timed one, they will stop there and wait for the right time before moving off. On the route that goes past my house, the nearest stop to me is one where they wait, and I've often seen a bus passing my house 2 or 3 minutes before it should have, and I have run to catch it, only to find it then waits at the stop for those minutes. Good drivers will be driving slowly now to try to keep reasonably close to the timetable anyway, but there are always some drivers who can't help themselves speed along, and then have to wait for a long time.
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grahame
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« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2020, 09:58:35 pm »

Perfect storm? I suggest:
* Less traffic on the road
* Less waiting at pedestrian crossings (or are MORE people walking)
* Less passenger getting onto the bus
* Younger / more mobile passengers? (Old and wheelchair people holed up at home)
* Faster payment methods / cash discouraged, higher proportion of multijourney tickets
* Fewer people making the journey for the first time and needing help
* Take corners a bit quicker because no one is standing

Most services I've looked at run clockface most of the day, just offsetting that to make journeys a little slower at high peak. And that means there's slack anyway away from the shoulders. Perhaps not a good idea to drive slower as it would hold up (and perhaps enrage) what other drivers are still on the road, hence the bus stop waits.
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LiskeardRich
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« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2020, 10:37:27 pm »

On a recent journey into Truro on a normally congested route, there are 3 timing points on the 87 service. I had a 7 min wait at the first, 4 mins at the second, and 6 mins at the third! I then arrived 4 mins early at the terminus! Normally itís a struggle to keep to time on that service!

Itís an offence under PSV rules to leave a timing point more than 1 minute early, so sitting and waiting for the timetables time is the only way. At first leaving early is deemed gross misconduct
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grahame
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« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2020, 10:44:29 pm »

On a recent journey into Truro on a normally congested route, there are 3 timing points on the 87 service. I had a 7 min wait at the first, 4 mins at the second, and 6 mins at the third! I then arrived 4 mins early at the terminus! Normally itís a struggle to keep to time on that service!

Looking that up ... 21 minutes more that you need on an 81 minute schedule - 26% faster than normal.  Presuming you really were waiting and not checking tickets / collecting fares.
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eXPassenger
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« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2020, 11:07:13 pm »

I had an online delivery today which arrived 1 hour earlier than expected.  The driver commented that due to the lack of traffic he was running well ahead of his planned schedule.
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MVR S&T
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« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2020, 11:11:09 pm »

Which is helping the air qulity, and er saving lives? hopefully.
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Reading General
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« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2020, 11:56:41 pm »

If First in Bristol are using Ticketer machines it will tell the drivers whether they are early (or late) at each stop. Generally two or three stops may be timed in the same minute dependant on time of day. The DfT rules still only apply to timing points shown on the crew running card which the driver is following but Ticketer does give the possibility of doing away with these, although it doesn't really allow the driver to forward plan, and by that I mean he can ease off or pick up the pace if he knows the route well rather than robotically following the machines times as it could mean waits at stops that hold up other traffic. At RTL newer drivers tended to rigorously stick to the Ticketer instruction, where as drivers of some years would know a route and know when to adapt the times, for example passing a school about to chuck out. Of course, with this feature, Control would know if you are running early or late. Me, in conditions like this, I would probably be leaving the terminus late so I could keep rolling and arrive in town on time.
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LiskeardRich
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« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2020, 06:15:50 am »

On a recent journey into Truro on a normally congested route, there are 3 timing points on the 87 service. I had a 7 min wait at the first, 4 mins at the second, and 6 mins at the third! I then arrived 4 mins early at the terminus! Normally itís a struggle to keep to time on that service!

Looking that up ... 21 minutes more that you need on an 81 minute schedule - 26% faster than normal.  Presuming you really were waiting and not checking tickets / collecting fares.

And thatís without the minute or two I waited at various other stops around the route!
There were no tickets to check etc. Perhaps 1-2 Passengers Across the route instead of the normal 40-50!Most are taking the advise to stay home now!
Highlights what makes the buses late.... traffic and passengers!
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GBM
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« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2020, 11:11:58 am »

It used to be that after 7pm when on 'lates' that the duty board shaved minutes between stops, so runs were speeded up.  The later timings were also reflected in Sunday timings as well.
Unfortunately the Sunday timings were cut across the day, so daytime runs were shorter as well.
However, on a Sunday there was a less frequent service than on a weekday, so passenger numbers would be slightly up with less busses running.
This resulted in longer dwell times, and resulted in late running during the day....
Yes, Sunday evenings were on time.
Services like the St Ives/tourist Landsend/St Ives, etc, suffered from this malaise.

As LR says, with the current Ticketer machines. a lot more accurate data will be gathered by management.

The Truro P&R service is also monitored by the Council (as it's their service), so those drivers are doubly monitored by timing points (where each stop is a timing point).
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« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2020, 12:02:23 pm »

Itís an offence under PSV rules to leave a timing point more than 1 minute early, so sitting and waiting for the timetables time is the only way. At first leaving early is deemed gross misconduct

I was once told by an instructor "There are 101 reasons for running late, but only one for running early."
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smokey
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« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2020, 12:12:30 pm »

I'd say as far as Job public is concerned there are two reasons for running early.

1, Is the obvious Leaving Early.

2, I once lived where we had a bus at XX14, and I once complained to a bus driver we left 2 minutes early he grinned and said "Sorry we actually left 58 minutes LATE"
(the curse of emergency roadworks). Grin Grin
« Last Edit: March 31, 2020, 12:19:30 pm by smokey » Logged
Reading General
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« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2020, 02:48:29 pm »


2, I once lived where we had a bus at XX14, and I once complained to a bus driver we left 2 minutes early he grinned and said "Sorry we actually left 58 minutes LATE"
(the curse of emergency roadworks). Grin Grin

This was a daytime problem on all Reading bus routes that ran a 15 minute or less frequency. Being a thoughtful driver, when things went wrong I would get out of the bus at a terminus, look for the nearest journey time and leave then. You might be running 15 or 30 minutes late but the travelling public wouldn't know.
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LiskeardRich
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« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2020, 03:22:10 pm »

Itís an offence under PSV rules to leave a timing point more than 1 minute early, so sitting and waiting for the timetables time is the only way. At first leaving early is deemed gross misconduct

I was once told by an instructor "There are 101 reasons for running late, but only one for running early."

With management here there are none for running early!
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2020, 05:36:18 pm »

Thanks for the interesting and knowledgeable replies.

Just to pick up one small point:
* Less waiting at pedestrian crossings (or are MORE people walking)
Just from local observation, there are fewer people walking but they form a larger proportion of the total people on the road at any one time. But because there is less traffic, they aren't feeling the same need to use pedestrian crossings. I haven't observed whether the lights at the crossings are still doing the "wait for a minute or two before changing" and if so, whether pedestrians are in fact waiting; mostly because no one's pressing the button anymore.
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