A headway-based approach to eliminate bus bunching: Systematic analysis and comparisons
Bus schedules cannot be easily maintained on busy lines with short headways: experience shows that buses offering this type of service usually arrive irregularly at their stops, often in bunches. Although transit agencies build slack into their schedules to alleviate this problem – if necessary holding buses at control points to stay on schedule – their attempts often fail because practical amounts of slack cannot prevent large localized disruptions from spreading system-wide. This paper systematically analyzes an adaptive control scheme to mitigate this problem. The proposed scheme dynamically determines bus holding times at a route’s control points based on real-time headway information. The method requires less slack than the conventional, schedule-based approach to produce headways within a given tolerance. This allows buses to travel faster than with the conventional approach, reducing in-vehicle passenger delay and increasing bus productivity.