A self-coordinating bus route to resist bus bunching

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, place - north america, operations - scheduling, operations - reliability


Bus bunching, Transit operations, Headway control, Adaptive control, Self-organization


The primary challenge for an urban bus system is to maintain constant headways between successive buses. Most bus systems try to achieve this by adherence to a schedule; but this is undermined by the tendency of headways to collapse, so that buses travel in bunches. To counter this, we propose a new method of coördinating buses. Our method abandons the idea of a schedule and even any a priori target headway. Under our scheme headways are dynamically self-equalizing and the natural headway of the system tends to emerge spontaneously. Headways also become self-correcting in that after disturbances they reëqualize without intervention by management or even awareness of the drivers.

We report on a successful implementation to control a bus route in Atlanta.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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