More Service For No Cost*

It’s a simple idea. In order to bring better, or rather, “more” service, a sacrifice has to be made.

I’m looking at you mid-day…

The issue is that demand for bus service at mid-day is not as high as it is during the peak hours. If you look at the 22 bus routes that currently exist in the Ben Franklin Transit system, only 5 reduce service levels during mid-day: 41, 47, 48, 66, and 67. (Route 110 also technically falls into this list as well, since it runs at a 60-minute headway all day.) One of the most common complaints I’ve always heard about BFT is that their buses don’t run late enough. (There’s a reason why the Trans+Plus Night Service program was created.) So, why don’t we make them run later?

For this scenario, we’re going to look at Route 60. Below is how the schedule currently looks (only departure/arrival times at 22nd Ave TC are shown):

6:00AM 6:25AM
6:30AM 6:55AM
7:00AM 7:25AM
7:30AM 7:55AM
8:00AM 8:25AM
8:30AM 8:55AM
9:00AM 9:25AM
9:30AM 9:55AM
10:00AM 10:25AM
10:30AM 10:55AM
11:00AM 11:25AM
11:30AM 11:55AM
12:00PM 12:25PM
12:30PM 12:55PM
1:00PM 1:25PM
1:30PM 1:55PM
2:00PM 2:25PM
2:30PM 2:55PM
3:00PM 3:25PM
3:30PM 3:55PM
4:00PM 4:25PM
4:30PM 4:55PM
5:00PM 5:25PM
5:30PM 5:55PM
6:00PM 6:25PM

You may have noticed that some times were italicized. Those are the times of runs that occur during the midday hours, defined by BFT as 9AM to 2PM. Now, instead of having constant 30-minute headways for the 12 hour service day, why don’t we move some of those service hours around, reducing service during the midday (when, as I mentioned earlier, demand is lower) and adding brand spanking new service after 6 o’clock in the evening? Take a look at the new table below:

6:00AM 6:25AM
6:30AM 6:55AM
7:00AM 7:25AM
7:30AM 7:55AM
8:00AM 8:25AM
8:30AM 8:55AM
9:00AM 9:25AM
—— ——
10:00AM 10:25AM
—— ——
11:00AM 11:25AM
—— ——
12:00PM 12:25PM
—— ——
1:00PM 1:25PM
—— ——
2:00PM 2:25PM
2:30PM 2:55PM
3:00PM 3:25PM
3:30PM 3:55PM
4:00PM 4:25PM
4:30PM 4:55PM
5:00PM 5:25PM
5:30PM 5:55PM
6:00PM 6:25PM
—— ——
7:00PM 7:25PM
—— ——
8:00PM 8:25PM
—— ——
9:00PM 9:25PM
—— ——
10:00PM 10:25PM
—— ——

No additional cost*, and the bus is now running an additional 4 hours into the evening. It’s so easy, it’s like taking candy from a baby. But not literally of course.

Of course, by now you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been adding an “*” whenever I say that this reallocation of service hours will not cost BFT an additional cent. It is nearly impossible to make that claim with a 100% certainty, and there are several reasons why. If you look at the current version of the Route 60 schedule and compare it with my revised version, you’ll notice that I removed 5 trips during the midday hours, but only added 4 new trips to the evening hours. The main reason for this is because of the cost of diesel. While theoretically there would be no additional costs incurred in the areas of vehicle wear-and-tear or operator salaries, this emphasis of “more service at peak, less at midday/evening” would require more deadheading of buses, and in turn increase diesel consumption. (Though, in theory, the amount of diesel consumption in the revised schedule would be the same amount that’s used to bring the two buses running the 60/62 to and from 22nd Ave TC each day.) There’s also the issue of “too much service.” It would be rather short minded to try and have Route 60 (or really any local route) running into the late night past 11PM, as the demand is just not there.

Obviously, some very serious number crunching would need to be done to prove whether or not this idea of mine would be worthwhile. Seeing as how I don’t have access to all the information that BFT has, I wouldn’t be able to do that sort of thing. However, now and in the future, simple as well as creative ideas are needed to insure BFT will be alive and sustainable for many years to come. I’ve been riding their buses for a very long time, and I want to keep doing so.

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