Chart of the Day: Bus Reliability during Winter Storms

Here’s a chart courtesy of City Pages showing the bus on-time percentage during the big winter storm a while back. Transit ridership goes up in the wintertime as driving becomes more difficult. It’s good to remember that when contemplating how well to shovel your sidewalk.

bus reliability

Also, one of the big advantages of trains over rail is that they work much better in the ice and snow. I’ve seen lots of buses get stuck in the snow but I’ve never seen a train do so.

9 thoughts on “Chart of the Day: Bus Reliability during Winter Storms

  1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

    In Lillehammer, a regional center but relatively small city (30k people) in central Norway, buses run with chains on most of the winter.

    Perhaps that’s not worth the wear and tear to our streets, but I enjoyed the creativity.

    Where do buses get stuck? I’d think it’d mostly be getting in and out of pullouts and parking bays.

    1. Dana DeMasterDanaD

      I’ve had lots of busses get stuck on even small hills in downtown Saint Paul. I remember one particular articulated 50 first got stuck on 9th and Minnesota and then got stuck several more times on its way to the Capitol. We all were directed to go to the front of the bus to take the weight off the back wheels. Once moving we all sat down again and then did the manuever a couple of more times when the bus got stuck again. The driver even asked if anyone was carrying kitty litter, but that was a joke (sort of).

    2. Casey

      The 2 gets stuck all the time near Lyndale, going from a stop light up hill on Franklin either direction seems difficult for buses. I once saw 3 buses stuck at once.

  2. Rebecca AirmetRebecca Airmet

    I imagine that even the high end 17 minute bus delay would be absorbed by similar car delays, plus not needing to scrape off and warm up your car. This is where Metro Transit’s live delay tracking comes in handy.

    Also, a light rail train got stuck in snow in Salt Lake City once.

  3. Alex CecchiniAlex Cecchini

    How much of the delay is caused by the bus’ inability to handle the snow (slower to pull out, get up hills, etc) vs sharing lanes with cars that drive slower, block intersections, get in accidents, etc?

    Is there data out there from snowy cities with full BRT lines with dedicated lanes the show the dip in performance relative to regular local routes? Trains obviously handle the snow better (and provide a guaranteed gap to the platform) – no doubt an advantage in our winter climate, but I have a feeling the relative performance of the Blue/Green lines has mostly to do with dedicated right of way.

    1. Rosa

      There’s quite a bit of delay as good bus drivers also are waiting for or helping people who are unsteady on their feet on and off the bus, and watching to make sure folks are making it up onto the sidewalk or across the street. A lot of people who get around fine on dry ground are much less able to handle slick or snowpacked curbs. The trains don’t have that as much – if you can make it to the platform, you can make it on and off the train, generally.

  4. Kassie

    Delayed buses don’t always mean a delay to the rider. If you are on a line that has buses every 10 minutes, and they are all 20 minutes late, you still have a bus every 10 minutes. It is when the buses are less frequent, especially Expresses out to the suburbs, when people feel the lateness.

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