Stop Spacing Analysis Using Geographic Information System Tools with Parcel and Street Network Data

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - stop, planning - signage/information, ridership - commuting, economics - operating costs, technology - geographic information systems, mode - bus, mode - pedestrian


Walking distance, Stop (Public transportation), Spacing, Ride time, Operating costs, Intracity bus transportation, GIS, Geographic information systems, Geocoding, Databases, Cost of operation, Case studies, Bus transit operations, Bus transit, Bus stops, Boston (Massachusetts), Albany (New York)


Geographic databases and computing tools present an opportunity for improved analysis of bus stop location or spacing changes. Changes in stop location affect walking, riding, and operating cost; of these, the impact on walking is the most important and complex. Traditional models and design rules for stop spacing do not model the impact on walking precisely, because they assume uniform demand density and unobstructed walking paths. This paper discusses an analysis procedure based on a parcel-level geographic database (supplied by a local government body such as the city tax assessor) and a street network. Walking paths and stop service area boundaries are based on shortest path and Voronoi diagram methods applied to the street network. Data on each parcel’s land use and development intensity are used to distribute historic on–off counts and thus estimate the demand arising in each parcel. For alternative stop sets, then, the demand at each stop, walking distance, riding time, and operating cost impacts can be determined. Case studies on transit routes in Boston, Massachusetts, and Albany, New York, demonstrate the method’s practicality. Results confirm the benefits of a recent stop rationalization effort in Boston and show how proposed stop elimination and relocation plans can be adjusted to yield a greater net benefit to society.