In most cities, bus stops are spaced too closely together. On a local bus route, stops should be within a convenient walking distance of each other about 400-500 meters. Guelph is on average at 450 meters. If stops are spaced much more tightly than that, buses spend an excessive amount of time stopped for boarding and at red lights.

From TransitCentre article: Bus Stop Balancing

Too many bus stops means that buses aren’t moving as quickly as they should be.

Many bus stops around the country are too close together, slowing down the ride for everyone. Fortunately, transit agencies like SFMTA and Maryland MTA are taking steps to rebalance existing bus stop networks.

Bus stop balancing typically keeps stops that are key transfer points, as well as ones with high ridership. Priority is also granted to bus stops near community and senior centers.

People who can currently reach multiple stops won’t see any difference. For riders at stops that have been moved, the maximum added walk time to a new stop should be of about 1/4 mile (400-500 meters) at a maximum – approximately five minutes. Express and Rapid Buses should be about 1/2 – 1 mile (800 – 1600 meters) apart. This (slightly) longer walk means a faster ride, which will enable people to spend more time doing the things they love.

In New York City, buses spend 22% of their time at stops. The MTA has an initial plan to reduce stops on Staten Island Express buses, but needs to take a much broader look at the problem.

Along with all-door boarding, dedicated bus lanes and transit signal priority, stop balancing can help to make transit that’s worth walking to.

In most cities, bus stops are spaced too closely together. On a local bus route, stops should be within a convenient walking distance of each other — about a quarter mile (400-500 m). If stops are spaced much more tightly than that, buses spend an excessive amount of time stopped for boarding and at red lights.

The TransitCenter video focuses on New York, where guidelines call for stops to be spaced just 750 feet apart, but the same principles apply in just about every Canadian or American city:

While this is USA based, it can and is used around the world.

It can be politically difficult for agencies to remove bus stops, since every stop has its constituency. But transit agencies can prioritize which stops should stay.

TransitCenter and other expert recommends preserving high ridership stops, stops with important connections to other transit lines, and stops near schools, medical centers, or other important destinations like shopping and major employers.

Also see: the Basics: The Spacing of Stops and Stations here.

Guelph has several routes where stops are either much too close together slowing down the bus, causing a bottleneck in traffic, and making the bus late on occasion.

A prime example of this would be Gordon Street between Dormie Lane and Wellington. There are 3 stops northbound toward downtown that are and average of 200m apart from each other. The stops between Dormie and Water Street is 180m between each other or a 2 minute walk while there is a 220m distance between Water and Royal City Park bus stops or a 2 min walk between both. Southbound there are 2 stops, one at Water Street and one at James which are 160 m apart and again a 2 minute walk between each other.

5 stops along Gordon Street.

Now ridership data shows that these stops are popular, however, good transit planning is keeping bus spacing and walking distance realistic. Research shows that people are willing to walk further is the bus is frequent, on time, and fast. This area is not living up to that. We understand that Gordon Hill is why the stop is located southbound at Dormie, however, looking at the catchment area, many riders would be able to still walk the extra 2 minutes to the next stop with little to no problem.

There are also areas where stops are too far apart and far from the final destination a user of transit would need to get to. Doing a quick stop spacing review would help Guelph Transit determine if bus stops need to be adjusted or not. Future bus routes need to stick as closely to the standard of 450 m and be flexible, where needed, to be located as close as possible to major destinations such as jobs, school, shopping, and entertainment.

We are calling for Bus Stop Balancing for Guelph. Take Action. Help make Guelph Transit fast, frequent, affordable, and accessible for everyone. JOIN US TODAY by signing up to be a member or attending one of our meetings or events.

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