Since the first bus rolled down the streets of ancient Rome, transportation experts have struggled to explain the mysterious phenomenon called bus bunching.
And now WBEZ Radio has taken a shot at it.
Since WBEZ's story was posted last week, a number of friends have emailed it or posted it on their Facebook wall.
Here are some salient facts and insights from the story.
- Bus bunching is ninth on the Chicago Transit Authority complaint list, the subject of around 2 percent of all calls.
- According to CTA performance metrics, only around 3 percent of bus trips experience bunching, which the agency defines as a gap of less than 60 seconds between buses at a stop.
Now,these particular facts are quite shocking to me, considering all the talk about bunching and the angst and anger around the subject.
- "Minor disturbances" such as a double-parked car can lead to bunched buses.
- Drivers can do a few things on their own to stop bus bunching, such as leapfrogging the driver in front of them or skipping unneeded stops.
The "minor disturbances" make sense. What's not mentioned is that passengers also cause bunching, often through no fault of their own. For instance, the boarding of a wheelchair-bound passenger can cause delays down the road.
- As a system, buses by design are set up to bunch, according to one expert. “A bus system by nature has bad dynamics,” according to University of Chicago Professor Donald Eisenstein. “Left on its own, buses will bunch.”
- Big gaps between buses, he said, will get bigger, while small gaps will shrink. This reality makes it almost impossible to eliminate bunching on a route unless there’s a lot of time between buses.<
Now, those are some interesting observations. It's almost saying we will never solve the problem of bus bunching.
Here's how the CTA explains bunching.
And, the top five most-bunched buses are:
- #49 Western, with 5.6 percent bunched boardings
- #22 Clark, 5.4 percent
- #9 Ashland, 4.9 percent
- #66 Chicago, 4.8 percent
- #79 79th Street, 3.6 percent
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