NFTA Metro seeks to space out bus stops for faster service
NFTA Metro is pursuing more changes to bus service with a process of moving and reducing the number of boarding areas called "bus stop balancing." It is not a direct cut to bus service and may very well speed up trips and increase frequency on routes, but such a move does come at the expense of asking many riders to walk farther to reach their bus stop.
This endeavor was presented at the last NFTA Metro Citizen Advisory Committee Meeting, March 25th, 2021. It's an idea proposed in NFTA Metro's 2021 Service Design Guidelines & Delivery Standards, which was adopted hours before the meeting by the Board of Commissioners. A draft of the revised guidebook was posted online March 9th with a public comment portal, but it was never presented to the CAC before a vote. BTRU and 35 of our members emailed NFTA staff urging that it be tabled so riders could have questions answered on what exactly is changing between this update and the last guidebook in 2012. Changes in guidelines like this very topic.
NFTA Metro currently has 4,500 bus stops across the system. On average, it has 6 stops per mile, according to staff at Thursday's meeting. That's a higher density than most of their peer transit authorities. (see graphic they presented below.) Bus trips at NFTA Metro spend on average 20% of their time bus stops. Staff believe the speed of trips can measurably increase by removing and/or relocating stops with low boardings and/or clustered to other stops. It's a move that's been implemented in other places like San Francesco and Road Island and faster trips have been observed in each.
NFTA Metro wants to model off of the FAStops Campaign launched by Cincinnati Metro in 2018. There's a public engagement element to the campaign, of course. Moving or eliminating a bus stop is a very impactful change for individual riders. See video the campaign produced below.
CAC Members expressed concern to NFTA Metro staff on how this may affect elderly folks and members of the disability community. Staff assured that level of data will take into account riders who have limited means of traveling to more distant bus stops. For me, personally, I often pedal a bike to my bus stop because I'm anxious over missing the bus. If the bus is going to be moved even further, I would feel even more anxiety. I stressed that if NFTA intends to remove bus stops to speed up trips, they need to apply that efficiency savings in adding more trips during the day. So if I do indeed miss my bus because I took too long to reach the stop, at least the next one will come maybe only 25 minutes instead of 30 minutes. I don't mind how much time I spend on the bus. I mind how much time I spend waiting for a bus. - Simon Husted, BTRU Member