Development of a large bus/small bus decision support tool

Document Type


Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - fleet management, economics - appraisal/evaluation, organisation - management, mode - bus, mode - bike


Acquisition, Bus Size Evaluation Tool, Computer program documentation, Decision support systems, Fleet management, Life cycle costing, Small buses, Transit buses


Transit managers continue to strive for greater operating efficiency while maintaining an appropriate balance between cost effectiveness and customer service. Over the past decade, the use of heavy-duty buses smaller than the traditional forty-foot variety has expanded for several reasons. In some cases, smaller buses are perceived to cost less to acquire, maintain, and operate; smaller buses may also be required to accommodate route maneuverability constraints, recent growth patterns, and off-peak empty bus syndrome. However, the availability of prior studies that considered the effectiveness of small buses has been limited. The objective of this research project was to develop a decision support tool to assist transit agencies with evaluating heavy-duty bus fleets and making vehicle acquisition and deployment choices. The product of this effort, the Bus Size Evaluation Tool (BSeT), is a user-friendly and easily-modifiable computer application designed within Microsoft Excel. Building off prior studies and investigative activities completed under this contract, BSeT comprises a life-cycle cost calculator and a template of weighted factors to help transit agencies select buses that are best suited to satisfy their obligations. The following report describes the research effort, details the process of developing the decision support tool, and serves as a user guide for BSeT. It is important to note that the outcome of this project is not intended as a fleet optimization tool.