Like many people, I take the bus to work most days. My commute isn’t actually that far (about 3 miles), but I am incredibly lazy, and the bus lets me catch up on the magazines that would otherwise be accumulating dust on my table. (And if I keep up on my Harper’s, I can at least pretend I’m up to date on what’s going on).
Anyway, here’s my bus route:
The main thing to notice here is that it stops an awful lot. During peak commute hours, I can sometimes walk faster than the bus. Given that I’m out of shape and my commute involves a big hill, that’s not a good sign.
It’s been pointed out many times that perhaps stops are placed too close together in many locales:
So there are potentially good reasons why you want to have stops closer together than what might be optimal; though I would mostly bucket these into having a customer base that is old, fat, lazy, grumpy or some combination of those 4. You can see in the humantransit post the outrage expressed at having stops more than 300 meters apart. The horror of having to walk more than 1.5 blocks to your stop!
But let’s go ahead and assume we live in a world where people are happy to walk longer distances. Let’s go further and assume they’re willing to walk as far as they need to ensure their overall trip time is minimized. If we have such a cooperative public, then what’s our optimal stop distance? I made up a trivial model of what happens in this case in a Ipython notebook here:
Here’s the resulting plot: