The bus network and schedules
Have you ever wondered how we create the schedules for our 221 bus lines that run seven days per week, 365 days per year?
Ridership fluctuates based on the area covered, time of day, days of the week and season. To deliver the right service at the right time, each bus line has a different schedule for Monday to Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and all three change with each season.
A route is made up of stops between two terminuses in one direction. To determine the time that a bus will take to travel a full route, we consider several variables, such as route length, number of stops, distance between the stops, ridership, road traffic, and driver experience.
We also consider these two variables when determining travel time. When we receive advance notice of a long lasting construction, we can update travel time accordingly. In the past few years, the constant increase in traffic and construction has affected bus speed in Montréal. This is why we update planned travel times whenever possible.
Travel times for Monday to Friday routes are updated at least every 18 months, using observations made by drivers and operations staff, as well as computer tools. These updates are more frequent than in the past, when they were made about every five years. This is a huge undertaking, as a schedule is made up of many times. For Monday to Friday schedules only, we analyse more than 220,000 pieces of data related to routes every year.
Downtime can be seen as a buffer. Used at the end of the line, this time is a way to absorb potential delays that may occur during travel time (accident, congestion, etc.) and ensure regular service. Downtime represents 10% of travel time but is not included in it.
Our buses travel in compliance with the Highway Safety Code and within the maximum allowed speed, wich is determined by municipal authorities on the Island of Montréal. It is true that speed limits have been reduced in the past few months in certain areas. These changes, however, have had very little impact on planned schedules since our average operating speed is 18 km/h. This is because buses stop and start to pick up passengers several times on a route. In fact, we estimate that the new reduced speed limit, from 40 km/h to 30 km/h, could increase travel time from 30 seconds to a minute on a given route.
Reserved lanes, priority traffic lights and synchronized traffic lights ensure that priority is given to public transit. These measures also improve the efficiency and on-time delivery of service by reducing travel time by around 10%.
“Discussion committees” were implemented last year. They are made up of active drivers, planning and operations employees, and union representatives. Each bus garage has its own discussion committee. The purpose is to discuss issues that bus drivers experience and to implement solutions. Meetings are held regularly, and adjustments are made continually to the bus system in the weeks following the meetings.
Did you know?
- A bus is considered on time if it arrives at the stop up to 1 minute before and 3 minutes after the planned schedule.
- A bus does not necessarily make round trips on the same line all day. Once a bus has completed a route in one direction, sometimes, it goes on to another destination. These buses are called “in transit.”
- The average distance between two bus stops is 300 meters.
- Our buses travel at an average operating speed of 18 km/h.