One of the things that I hear sometimes is people complaining about buses being half-full, taking up much needed road space. This is a common perception, but does this perception line up with reality? At what point would a typical bus take up less space per passenger than a car?
To illustrate this, I picked a typical 40’/12.2m transit bus and a 179.4”/4.5m 2015 Honda Civic Sedan.
|Travelling 50km/h, two Honda Civics fit into the space of one bus. Select image to enlarge.|
When travelling 50km/h on the road, you should leave at least 2 seconds between vehicles. This happens to work out to about 30 meters. If a typical car has 1 to 2 passengers, a typical bus would need to have 2 to 4 passengers to take up the same amount of space as a car per passenger. More than 5 passengers, and a bus becomes a more efficient use of limited road space. A typical 40’ bus in Metro Vancouver fits about 70 people, so a half-full bus has about 35 people. That means that a half-full bus uses at least 8 times less road space per passenger than a typical car.
This even holds true when stopped in a queue at an intersection. Research shows that most people stop their cars about their vehicle length behind the vehicle in front of them.
|Stopped at an intersection, two Honda Civics fit into the space of one bus. Select image to enlarge.|
Now passenger vehicles come in all shapes and sizes, but the point is that it doesn’t take much for a bus to be a better way to move people around in an urban environment over longer distances. Even if cars ran only on solar power, in urban centres, we simplely could not afford to build large enough roads to have everyone drive a personal vehicle. Even if we could afford to build large enough roads, we would destroy our Metro Vancouver way-of-life in the process.