The secret to creating reliable bus running times

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The secret to creating reliable bus running times

Accurate running times are essential to achieving reliable bus timetables. This statement is very obvious, but how do you determine the most appropriate running times? There are various methods that can be used to create and verify running times having evolved significantly over the last 10 years with the creation of vehicle tracking and reporting.

This article outlines an approach that we have used successfully for many years. Now keep in mind this approach may not be suitable for your particular circumstances, but we believe it provides a robust and well-rounded operational and customer outcome.

It’s all about the data

A common approach in current times, where historical travel time data available, is for transport planners and transport schedulers to analyse data to determine suitable travel times after having regard for outlying data. While this is a great approach, it is not without some potential shortfalls. One drawback is where existing travelling times are excessive and drivers are purposely extending their dwell time or driving slower than the road conditions allow. In this situation, transport planners and transport schedulers can inevitably perpetuate to overstatement of running times and allow more running time than what is actually required.

If you use this approach, we highly recommend that independent verification or alternate data sources be considered to validate the proposed run times. As transport specialists, we suggest the use of traffic data from an independent source. Our pick? Google Travel Times. Data can be easily obtained via Google directly, but it can be a time-consuming exercise.

We have developed a Route Map tool to assist and speed up this task. The route map tool allows you to estimate the travel times between multiple locations through an interface with Google Maps. You can select one of three Traffic Modes (Optimistic, Best Guess or Pessimistic). Each option will return the travel time by time of day and day type you have nominated.

Creating reliable running times for bus timetables is not always straight forward nor is it easily achieved. We strongly recommend that any approach used be verified and compared to an independent data source to ensure the most suitable accurate times have been chosen.

How can we help?

Need a hand creating reliable bus running times? Check out our range of easy to use digital tools that take the hard work out of transport planning, saving you time and money.

For more information on this article, please contact us at

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