A headway-based approach to eliminate bus bunching: Systematic analysis and comparisons

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - scheduling, mode - bus


Transit authorities, Trade off analysis, Speed, Schedules and scheduling, Headways, Comparison studies, Bus usage, Bus travel, Bunching, Analysis, Alternatives analysis


Bus schedules cannot be easily maintained on busy lines with short headways: experience shows that buses offering this type of service usually arrive irregularly at their stops, often in bunches. Although transit agencies build slack into their schedules to alleviate this problem - if necessary holding buses at control points to stay on schedule - their attempts often fail because practical amounts of slack cannot prevent large localized disruptions from spreading system-wide. This paper systematically analyzes an adaptive control scheme to mitigate this problem. The proposed scheme dynamically determines bus holding times at a route's control points based on real-time headway information. The method requires less slack than the conventional, schedule-based approach to produce headways within a given tolerance. This allows buses to travel faster than with the conventional approach, reducing in-vehicle passenger delay and increasing bus productivity.


Transportation Research Part B Home Page: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/01912615