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Finding the Buses That Need a Speed Boost

busspeed.jpgMapping bus
speeds in Washington, D.C. Slower lines show up as dark blue. Image:
Greater Greater Washington

A fresh look at old information
can sometimes be all you need to better understand a knotty problem. And
a fresh look is exactly what the Washington Metropolitan Area
Transportation Authority provided with a new set of bus maps released
this week. Using GPS data gathered last year, these maps show the
average speed of the transit system's buses, painting a picture of where
bus riders could use faster service. 

David Alpert at Greater
Greater Washington
posted the images, with some strategic graphic
adjustments, and offers the analytic insight that makes these maps

Closer to the core, the bus speeds are generally slower. That's a consequence partly of congestion, but also partly from bus stopdensity. Since there are more destinations and more riders in thecentral areas, there are more bus stops, and those stops have moreriders, which take time to load and unload. DC could reduce some, butthere will still be more and speeds will therefore be slower. It's where some lines are slower than their neighbors, sometimes much slower, that the difference becomes particularly useful.

Buses that are slower than they should be pop right out of the map.
Where that's true, and especially where the number of buses stuck at a
snail's pace is high, Alpert recommends bus lanes, queue jumpers, and
signal priority as ways to speed buses along. If the slow speed is due
to lots of riders getting on and off the bus, a common problem on
popular routes, off-board fare collection might be another solution to
look into.

Has your transit system or DOT put forward any useful ways of
visualizing transportation information? Share it in comments.

More from around the network: Charleston
challenges a new ordinance that would outlaw locking your
bike to a tree or sign. EcoVelo
marks the opening of London's so-called bicycle superhighways. And the Hard
details Portland's big push to bring in electric cars.

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