Ways to Build a Better Bus System


Mass transportation is an essential service that many communities provide their members. Public bus systems are beneficial to people in urban communities who want to reduce their environmental impact while commuting or those who don't have their own cars. Bus systems increase community access to all kinds of services and opportunities. 

Making bus system improvements is an excellent way to serve a community better, invite users to access the system, and increase bus system efficiency. Community leaders can learn how to build a better bus system with the strategies below.

Importance of Building a Better Bus System 

The American Public Transportation Association identifies around 6,800 organizations across America that provide public transportation for their cities and counties. Improving these public bus systems offers several benefits to communities, including: 

  • Essential mobility: According to the United States Census Bureau, 46.3% of people who used public transportation to get to work used a bus. The public bus system provides access to employment, community resources, medical care, and recreation that many people would otherwise lack. 
  • Community planning: Bus systems help community leaders expand development based on transit. Leaders can plan business opportunities and reduce sprawl. Public transportation also expands work opportunities, especially for those without access to other means of transit.
  • Enhanced sense of community: Creating a central location for community transportation helps establish a sense of community. A public bus system can also enhance public safety and security. 
  • Environmental benefits: Using mass transit reduces the need for community members to contribute to road congestion, air pollution, and energy consumption.

Improving the accessibility, safety, and convenience of public bus systems is a key strategy for serving communities and providing greater access to resources and opportunities. When community leaders make impactful bus system improvements in their neighborhoods, they encourage more community members to take advantage of the service. 

How to Improve Your Bus System 

With adequate planning and community involvement, community leaders can improve their bus system to benefit everyone in their communities. Here are some essential considerations for making bus system improvements to run the best bus system possible: 

1. Streamline Schedules 

Reliability is key to effective public transportation, so there should be a good bus network with high frequency operating throughout the day. Schedules should be frequent and usable by riders. Whenever possible, streamline bus schedules using a clockface pattern. Predictable schedules create ease of use and easy-to-memorize sequences.

2. Make Buses and Stops More Accessible 

Accessibility is a significant factor in usability at public bus stops and pathways. Common issues include: 

  • Utility poles or overgrowth restricting access on sidewalks. 
  • Lack of wheelchair-accessible curb ramps and bus entrances. 
  • Difficult street crossings. 

These problems restrict bus system accessibility to people with disabilities. Community leaders can improve these situations with solutions like: 

  • Implementing aids for the visually impaired, such as raised bumps on the sidewalk at bus stops and auditory cues. 
  • Lobbying for sidewalk and concrete pad additions and improvements, like leveling and re-pouring damaged walkways. 
  • Adding ramps and lifts to allow better access for people using wheelchairs, scooters, and walkers. 

Making these bus stop improvements can increase boardings from riders with various disabilities.

3. Simplify Bus Routes 

Long, branching bus routes are a double-edged sword. Longer routes cover more area but decrease bus stop frequency and capacity. Simplify routes using the following strategies to make bus systems more usable and efficient: 

  • Break longer routes down: Use shorter routes and connect the ends in transit hubs. This makes routes more adaptable to different needs. 
  • Reduce bus stops: Eliminate stops on each block, depending onboarding data and input from users. Use clear metrics to defend stop eliminations. 
  • Eliminate branching: Where possible, reduce system branching. Limiting branches involves more frequent stops, making schedules easier to remember, and evens out the busload.

These bus system improvements might attract more riders over time and make the system more usable. 

4. Assign Buses With Clearer Route Numbers 

Some bus route numbering systems are relics of an out-of-date arrangement that the city no longer uses. Eliminate complexity wherever possible to create ease of use. Community leaders can streamline the names of buses and their stops. For example, if a city has gridded and numbered streets, the bus running on each road should carry the street number. Bus number 16, for instance, would run down 16th street. 

5. Increase Bus Speed 

Riders also want buses to arrive at their destination at a reasonable time. A slow or inefficient bus system will not serve riders in the best way possible. Increase bus speed with these techniques: 

  •  Create dedicated bus lanes: Other road traffic can slow buses down, leading to delays and passenger overflow. The transportation department can reduce this complication by creating dedicated bus lanes on the roads, especially in frequently-traveled areas. 
  • Give buses signal priority: Some cities have implemented sensors at specific intersections that detect a bus's presence. The light changes to green as the bus approaches, giving it priority over other forms of traffic. 
  • Off-board fare collection: Encourage riders to purchase tickets before boarding the bus. Reduce cash collection with reloadable chip cards, which users can buy beforehand and scan when boarding.

6. Utilize Technology

Technology streamlines bus services in multiple ways. The transit system can develop a mobile app, which functions as a fare collection system and includes a code for scanning. The bus schedule can be presented on the app, allowing users to access real-time schedule information as it changes. Equipping riders to know exactly when their bus will arrive enables them to manage their time and can decrease overflow.

7. Maintain Buses Well

A good bus system provides excellent service to riders, which can improve its image and attract more users. Improve the bus system with newer models with quiet operation and a smooth ride. Hybrid models that reduce energy costs are also available. 

Buses should be well maintained, cleaned, and serviced. Many cities are also removing advertising wraps to present a better image. 

8. Proactively Serve Users 

Building a better bus system begins and ends with the users' needs. Some improvements might go unseen by riders, like staffing buses with qualified drivers and other workers. Providing faultless customer service goes a long way in creating a system that adequately meets community needs. Use quantifiable standards to measure the system's success and provide users with relevant information quickly. Encourage feedback and use it to improve even more. 

Value of Adding Commerical Shade Structures 

Creating the best user experience for community members should be a high priority for a public bus transit system. After all, many users rely on buses for work, medical appointments, and other obligations. A valuable bus system gets the members of a community where they need to go and provides a great experience, whatever the weather.  

Installing some basic amenities like shade structures at bus stops can significantly benefit riders. Commercial shade structures offer helpful weather protection, especially in areas that experience high UV rays and frequent hail storms. Structures using HDPE fabric also allow hot air to rise from the pavement below, creating a cooler area for riders as they wait. 

Quality shade structures reduce the risk from hail storms and can help prevent damage to benches below. With various styles and colors to choose from, plus customization for marketing, cities and counties can design custom shade structures that enhance their branding. Installing commercial shade structures is an additional way to serve bus system users, create a stronger feeling of community, and invite more users to benefit from the public bus system. 

Improve Your Public Transportation With Commercial Shade Structures 

If your community is searching for ways to improve its bus system, look to VPS for quality commercial shade structures that meet the needs of the users your bus system serves. VPS is the industry leader in vehicle protection and commercial shade structures. Our shade structures provide UV and hail protection to reduce risk from the elements. 

VPS can handle custom projects of any size and scope. Our shade structure product line has the variety to fit nearly any commercial or aesthetic need you have. Ready to get started installing quality shade structures at your bus stops? Contact VPS today and learn more about our innovative shade solutions!