A bus stop is a designated place where a public transport bus stops for the purpose of allowing passengers to board or leave a bus.
There are three main kinds of stops:
- Scheduled stop: The bus uses the stop irrespective of demand. This can be done to simply avoid confusion, or to ensure correct running to the timetable
- Request or flag stop: The bus will only stop to allow boarding or alighting if requested.
- Hail and Ride stop: Stops may also exist in hail and ride route sections, or stops may only be called at to set down a passenger at their request.
Stops may be used as terminal stops, whereby a route starts or finishes at that stop. Certain stops may be designated 'set-down only' for some or all routes. Other services may use the same stop as through services. Fare stages may also be defined by the location of certain stops in distance or zone based fare collection systems.
Individual bus stops may simply be placed on the sidewalk next to the roadway, although they can also be placed to facilitate use of a busway
. More complex installations can include construction of a bus turnout
or a bus bulb
, for traffic management reasons, although use of a bus lane
can make these unnecessary. Several bus stops may be grouped together to facilite easy transfer between routes. These may be arranged in a simple row along the street, or in parallel or diagonal rows of multiple stops. Groups of bus stops may be integral to Transportation hubs
. With extra facilities such as a waiting room or ticket office, outside groupings of bus stops can be classed as a rudimentary bus station
Convention is usually for the bus to draw level with the 'flag', although in areas of mixed front and rear entrance buses, such as London, a head stop, and more rarely a tail stop, indicates to the driver whether they should stop the bus with either the rear platform or the drivers cab level with the flag.
In certain areas, the area of road next the bus stop may be specially marked, and protected in law. Often, car drivers can be unaware of the legal implications of stopping or parking in a bus-stop.
Bus stops installations can range from a simple pole and sign, to a rudimentary shelter, to full blown buildings. The usual minimum is a pole mounted flag with suitable name/symbol. Bus stop shelters may have a full or partial roof, supported by a two, three or four sided construction. Modern stops are mere steel and glass/perspex constructions, although in other places, such as rural Britain, stops may be wooden or brick built. The construction may include small inbuilt seats. The construction may feature advertising, from simple posters, to complex illuminated, changeable or animated displays. Some installations have also included interactive advertising. Design and construction may be uniform to reflect a large corporate or local authority provider, or installations may be more personal or distinctive where a small local authority such as a parish council is responsible for the stop. The stop may include separate street furniture such as a bench, lighting and a garbage receptacle.
The bus stop flag will sometimes contain the route numbers of all the buses calling at the stop, optionally indicating frequent, infrequent, 24 hour and night services. The flag may also show the logo of the dominant bus operator, or the logo of a local transit authority with responsibility for bus services in the area. Additional information may include an unambiguous name for the stop, and the direction/common destination of most calling routes. Bus stops will often include timetable
information, either the full timetable, or for busier routes, the times or frequency that a bus will call at the specific stop. Route maps and tariff information may also be provided, and telephone numbers to relevant travel information services. The stop may also incorporate, or have nearby, real time information displays with the arrival times of the next buses. Increasingly, mobile phone
technology is being referenced on more remote stops, allowing the next bus times to be sent to a passenger's handset based on the stop location and the real time information. Automated ticket machines
may be provided at busy stops.
A number of research efforts have concluded that the optimal bus stop spacing for most transit routes is somewhere between 1000-2000 feet (300-600m). Many transit agencies have developed guidelines for preferred bus stop spacing. In Seattle, Washington
, King County Metro's
guidelines call for an ideal stop spacing of 4-6 stops per mile in an urban
environment, to achieve the proper balance of service coverage and vehicle performance. TriMet
, in Portland, Oregon
, uses bus stop spacing guidelines of every 3 blocks or 780' (240m) in dense areas, and every 4 blocks or 1000' (310 m) in medium to low density areas. The Public Transport Council in Singapore uses a guideline of 400m - 350m (1300ft - 1150ft) spacing between bus stops. The Milwaukee (Wisconsin) County Transit System (MCTS) has bus stops every two blocks. In Pittsburgh, there are parts of the city in which there is a stop every block. In Ann Arbor, the stops are about 200 m (660ft) apart. In most U.S.
cities, however, the typical bus stop spacing is between 650 and 900 feet (200-275 m), well below the optimal.
Bus stop vehicle capacity is often an important consideration in the planning of bus stops serving multiple routes within urban centers. Limited capacity may mean buses queue up behind each other at the bus stop, which can cause traffic blockages or delays. Bus stop capacity is typically measured in terms of buses/hour that can reliably use the bus stop. The main factors that affect bus stop capacity are:
- Number of loading areas (or number of buses that can stop at one time)
- Average Dwell Time (How much time it takes a bus to load/unload passengers)
- G/C ratio of nearby traffic signal (green time / cycle length)
- Clearance Time (time it takes bus to re-enter the traffic stream)
Detailed procedures for calculating bus stop capacity and bus lane capacity using skip stops are outlined in Part 4 of the Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Manual, published by the US Transportation Research Board.
Transit agencies are increasingly looking at consolidation of possibly previously haphazardly placed bus stops as a way to improve service cheaply and easily. Bus stop consolidation evaluates the bus stops along an established bus route and develops a new pattern for optimal bus stop placement. Bus stop consolidation has been proven to improve operating efficiency and ridership on bus routes.
Bus rapid transit stops
In bus rapid transit systems, bus stops may be more elaborate than street bus stops, and can be termed 'stations' to reflect this difference. These may have enclosed areas to allow off-bus fare collection for rapid boarding, and be spaced further apart like tram stops. Bus stops on a bus rapid transit line may also have a more complex construction allowing level boarding platforms, and doors separating the enclosure from the bus until ready to board.
False bus stops
some nursing homes
build false, imitation bus stops for their patients who are suffering from dementia
. The patients will sit at the bus stop waiting for a bus to take them to their imagined destination. After some time the nursing staff comes to escort the clients back into the nursing home or the ward.