In-Lane Bus Stops – the right to be frustrated

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Do car drivers have a monopoly on ‘driver frustration’ over other road users?  The argument for opposing in-lane bus stops is that it ‘will create driver frustration’ causing them to ‘create unsafe situations’.  In-lane bus stops are not new to Hamilton; they have been in place for decades.

In the Waikato Regional Council public transport plan (WRPTP 2018-28), on page 42 the actual measures for 2018 were: ‘average boardings per trip at peak periods’ was 17.89 people per bus route and ‘average boarding’s per trip – all periods’ was 8.9 people per bus route.     The previous Waikato Regional Council public transport plan for 2011-21 (WRPTP 2011-21) stated on page 34 (7.2.2 A3) that ‘Service performance thresholds (using data from a three month period) to be used to identify services that require closer investigation – Average peak patronage per trip less than 15 passengers [or] average peak load exceed 90 per cent of seat capacity, and More than five per cent of peak service are full’.

Of course a motorist following a bus cannot see the number of people on the bus, and the only reason a bus would hold up other traffic is when it picks up or drops off passengers. The more often it does this, the more often motorists notice the bus slowing down and speeding up; however,  it also means fewer people driving, and fewer single-occupant motor vehicles slowing traffic to a crawl. We are talk about a minimum of 15 people per bus at peak period, or a minimum of 15 fewer cars. If the bus is blocked in a recessed bay by cars or the driver finds the bus stop storing unoccupied motor vehicles, do the bus driver and the 15 passengers also have the right to also be ‘frustrated’ and ‘stressed’ by other road users?

The first advantage of in-line bus stops is that other road users do not see them as parking places. The second advantage is that the road in front of the bus is clear of traffic, allowing more people to move faster along a bus route.

When the bus stops in Copenhagen, all following traffic stops. In Melbourne, when a tram stops, all following traffic stops. In  North America, when a school bus stops ‘you must remain stopped until all people are clear of the roadway and the bus is in motion’. Stopping for a bus (or tram) is about priorities. The ‘frustration’ and ‘stress’ of other road users should not take priority over safety and an efficient transport network.

Driver frustration is a real driver behaviour problem caused by motor vehicle users’ expectations that they have priority over other road users. When should ‘driver frustration’ be allowed to be used as justification for supporting a less efficient transport network? The council needs to be realistic about bus passengers’ expectations of a continuing and improving service.

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