Variability in Comparable Performance of Urban Bus Operations

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - performance, organisation - performance, place - urban, mode - bus, mode - mass transit


Worldwide, Urban transit, Transit, Public transit, Performance measurement, Mass transit, Local transit, Intracity bus transportation, International, Comparative analysis, Bus transit operations, Bus transit, Benchmarks


Whether comparing the performance of urban bus operators through a benchmarking exercise is useful and justifiable is examined. Benchmarking can be deemed useful if performance comparisons exhibit sufficient significant variability in performance between operators such that lessons can be learned from one another. The exercise can be viewed as justifiable if different external conditions do not affect performance to the extent that the variability of the results can be judged as incomparable. The data used for the study were collected by the International Bus Benchmarking Group, facilitated by Imperial College London, and related to 10 medium to large bus operators from nine countries for 2001 to 2007. After data stratification and normalization, especially for differences in vehicle size, demand profile, and commercial speed, the results suggest that comparing performance of urban bus operations through benchmarking is both useful and justifiable as long as there is a sufficient number of operators in the comparison that exhibit similar operating characteristics and urban environments.