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Does the NTA Measure the Success of a Bus Service the Wrong Way?

  • 27-04-2023 4:01pm
    Registered Users Posts: 240 ✭✭

    I get the impression that the NTA measure the efficiency of services mainly in terms of how many buses get to the end of the route, as opposed to other criteria. It's all very well to have a high percentage of buses getting to the terminus, but that's often at the expense of the service. Their main focus should instead be on making sure that the buses are evenly spaced out. I work for CIE on a city service and what I've noticed is that if one bus falls back in traffic and meets the other bus (that's on time) that the AVL centre seems okay to have them drive along near each other for next 40 minutes or more, and only sort the problem out at the end of the route by instructing the late bus to swing around early to put itself back on time. What they could have done in advance of this is have the late bus do only dropping off of passengers (out of service) for about 10-15 minutes in order to put itself somewhat nearer to being back on time, and then go into service for the remainder of the route. This means that the customers further on down the route don't have to wait as long and that the passengers on board get to where they're going quicker. The people on the street don't realise that 'out of service' is often a good thing.

    But it's this sort of carry on that the NTA should be watching out for, and not whether all buses make it to the terminus. Almost nine times out of ten AVL don't spot this carry on. Also, sometimes a late driver won't have any passengers on board towards the end of a route and AVL won't know this. That driver may still - like a zombie - drive all the way to the end and then start the new trip 10 minutes down in time. Some drivers take the initiative to contact AVL in such cases, but not all. I often end up right alongside another bus and feel like ringing AVL to say "will you tell that zombie in front of me to use his head", but I don't. Of course there are some drivers who drive slow on purpose hoping that they'll be so late that they'll an out of service "swing" from the terminus before break. Then others who catch up to a late bus, will just stay right behind it for like 20 minutes and let them do all the work... the result being that the late because becomes more late, and the on-time bus gets a little bit late.

    Another thing that's done is that when a bus arrives late to the terminus, they'll have that bus skip a portion of the new trip by driving along the motorway to meet a new point on the route, which is fine of course. But in certain cases instead of doing as described, they may instruct that bus to operate as an alternative version of that route (such as the express version)... the reason being (what I've heard) is that the company gets paid for more distance being covered as you're in service the whole way in to the city centre, and not just half of it. Now the only trouble is that you often end up right alongside the bus that's scheduled to be in that place anyway... and there's never enough passengers for two buses! But they get paid more, even though it's not what is best for the service. This hasn't happened too often with me, but I've heard that this might be the reason for it. The NTA should watch out for this, or else the transport company shouldn't be penalised for losing a portion of the route.

    I'd love to know what really goes on between behind the scenes. Any Thoughts?