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What is Causing Late Buses in Seattle?

Published on March 23, 2020

A bus heading through a densely populated area of Seattle.
Image Credit: Oran Viriyincy via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Under typical conditions, Seattle has some of the most congested traffic in the nation. To prepare for when things return to normal, University of Washington researchers are carrying out a research project to investigate reasons for these delays.

While a bus could be late for many reasons, one holdup is that it has to compete with other vehicles — personal vehicles, ride-hailing cars, delivery trucks, etc. — that might be parked at the bus stop or double-parked in a travel lane.

“Delays slow transit down and make it less attractive relative to driving,” said co-lead researcher Don MacKenzie, a UW associate professor of civil and environmental engineering who also leads the Sustainable Transportation Lab. “Some delays are necessary — such as waiting for passengers to board or pausing to make sure it’s safe to reenter traffic. But we suspect there may be cases where interference is happening. Are there cars or delivery trucks parked in the bus lane? Is there a cyclist, who for lack of a better space to ride, is in the bus lane? These are the kind of things we want to know about.”

The survey will ask people to fill out a few questions about where and when they notice problems and what types of interference they see.

Using the results from the survey and input from the project’s stakeholders, the team will identify up to 10 busy transit corridors — sections of a public transit route that may include multiple stops — to study in more detail. The group plans to develop an app so that research assistants can ride buses in the selected corridors to collect data on bus operation and mark cases of interference as they come up. Depending on the results, researchers will develop and test potential solutions.

Continue reading at UW News

Originally written by Sarah McQuate for UW News.
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