The economics and engineering of bus stops: Spacing, design and congestion

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - stop, mode - bus rapid transit, place - australasia, planning - network design


Bus stop, Poisson, Congestion, Queue, Bus delay, Bus Rapid Transit


This paper re-considers the problem of choosing the number of bus stops along urban routes, first by estimating the probability of stopping in low demand markets, and second by analysing the interplay between bus stop size, bus running speed, spacing and congestion in high demand markets. A comprehensive review of the theory and practice on the location and spacing of bus stops is presented. Using empirical data from Sydney, Australia, we show that the widely used Poisson model overestimates the probability of stopping in an on-call bus stopping regime, and consequently underestimates the optimal number of bus stops that should be designed. For fixed-stop services, we show that bus running speed, frequency and dwell time are crucial to determining the relationship between bus stop spacing and demand, with bus stop congestion in the form of queuing delays playing a key role. In particular, we find that bus stop spacing should be decreased if demand increases at a constant bus running speed; however, if both bus running speed and the speed of the passenger boarding process increase, then the distance between bus stops should be kept long even at high demand levels, a result that is consistent with the implementation of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems that feature high bus running speeds and long distances between stops relative to conventional bus services.


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


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