The Use of Small Buses in Transit Service


B. Hemily
R. King

Document Type


Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - route design, planning - surveys, ridership - demand, place - north america, mode - bus


Bus transit, Case studies, Demand responsive transportation, Fixed routes, Industries, North America, Reports of visits, Small buses, Surveys, Transit operating agencies


This synthesis will be of interest to transit agency professionals and the consultants who work with them in dealing with small buses in transit service. It offers responses from 94 public transit agencies in North America--how they were using small buses and their experiences with them. A summary of research findings gathered through surveys and site visits is presented. Results show that 58% of the respondents use small buses and, on average, small buses make up about 18% of their fleets. The focus in this document is on the use of small buses, 30 ft or less in length, as replacements for large buses in fixed-route, scheduled service or those used in innovative, more flexible operations such as route deviation or demand-response service. At the onset, it was decided to exclude from study paratransit services that are available only to eligible customers, such as the elderly or people with disabilities. Additionally, rural service and services using trolley replicas were not included in the scope of the study. This document integrates information from several tasks. There is information included from a summary of research findings, documents, and websites and from survey responses from transit agencies in North America that have been identified as using small buses, as well as those agencies identified as not using small buses. Also information is included from a survey of small bus manufacturers, follow-up communications with transit managers and staffs, and four detailed on-site case studies.


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