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Bunching behaviour in

London buses


David Bellinger











MSc in Transport Planning and
Management, University of Westminster











2011











ii

Abstract

The iBus system installed on Londons buses in 2009 provides a new source of data
for the study of bus bunching, the phenomenon whereby two or more buses arrive at
a stop simultaneously. A new metric to describe bunching is produced, and using
this, the severity of bunching on 30 London bus routes is measured. Bunching by
time of day is derived, showing clear peaks in the morning and the evening, with a
somewhat different pattern in the school holidays. Bunching along the course of
individual routes is also analysed: the curves produced generally fall into one of
three specific forms. Comparison with simulations reveals that the rate at which
bunching becomes more severe as buses progress down a route is likely to imply
that one or more feedback mechanisms is at play in the system. Regression analysis
relating bunching to various route factors is performed, revealing significant
relationships between bunching and 12 route factors. Factor analysis groups these
into three orthogonal components. The most successful predictor of bunching on a
route is shown to be its modal frequency an exponential relationship between the
two variables is given. This model is tested on three hold-out samples, and is found
to be successful, with an average error of 9%.

Word count: 18,499






Acknowledgements

Writing this dissertation has been an extremely rewarding experience, and I would
like to thank the many people who have supported me in the process. Firstly, my
dissertation supervisor Dr Andrew Cook has been incredibly supportive and
encouraging, and I am indebted to him for the many helpful comments that have
served to enhance the work significantly. Thanks should also go to Prof Peter White
who offered useful advice during the initial formulation of the dissertation, and on
possible areas to investigate during the course of it.

The research would not have been possible without the co-operation of TfL, the
analysis of whose data forms the meat of this dissertation. Thanks go to Simon
Reed, and particularly Chris Fowler, who has been extremely helpful in introducing
me to the people I have needed to liaise with, and asking them to help me as much
as they could. These have included: Janet Brown, Greg Webster, Adam Mullineux,
and Annelies de Koning. Thanks also go to Terry Butler of the Arriva North Control
Room, who generously gave of his time to show me around the control room and
explain to me the finer points of service control.

Finally, special thanks must go to my family and particularly to my wife Ruth for all
their fantastic support during the course of my MSc.







iii

Contents


List of Figures v

List of Tables vi

Glossary of abbreviations and technical terms vii


Chapter 1 Introduction 1

1.1 Overview 1

1.2 Aims 2

1.3 Structure 2


Chapter 2 Literature review 3

2.1 Theoretical analysis 3

2.2 Experimental research 5


Chapter 3 Background information 7

3.1 Londons buses 7

3.2 iBus 9

3.3 Service control 11


Chapter 4 Methodology 14

4.1 Bunching metric 14

4.2 Route selection 16

4.3 Date selection 22

4.4 Data selection and cleaning 22

4.5 Production of the metrics 24

4.6 Simulations 25

4.7 Regression analysis 26

4.8 Factor analysis 28


iv

Chapter 5 Analysis 29

5.1 Bunching by route 29

5.2 Bunching by time of day 32

5.3 Bunching along the route 37

5.4 Regression analysis 49

5.5 Factor analysis 56

5.6 Prediction of for the hold out samples 57


Chapter 6 Conclusion 58

6.1 Summary of results 58

6.2 Future research 65


References 67


Appendix 1 Independent variables 69

Appendix 2 Correlations between independent variables 70

Appendix 3 SPSS factor analysis output 73

























v

List of Figures



















































2.1 Number of stops before one would observe before buses would deviate
from the schedule by a certain number of minutes (from Hill, 2003)
2.2 Headway variation against distance down route (from Abkowitz et al.,
1986
3.1 Annual passenger-km on London buses (from TfL 2010a)
3.2 Changes in bus performance measures with time (from TfL 2010a)
3.3 Schematic of the iBus system (from TfL 2011b)
3.4 Countdown dot matrix display (from TfL 2011b)
3.5 Screenshot of the service control software used by route controllers
(from a personal communication with TfL)
4.1 Overview of selected routes
4.2 Selected bus routes in West London
4.3 Selected bus routes in South London
4.4 Selected bus routes in East London
4.5 Selected bus routes in North London
5.1 Evolution of the metrics over the 5 selected days
5.2 by time of day
5.3 by time of day with bus usage superimposed (partly from TfL 2007)
5.4 by time of day with road traffic volumes superimposed (partly from
Daft 2011)
5.5 by time of day during term time
5.6 by time of day during half term
5.7 by time of day in Inner London
5.8 by time of day in Outer London
5.9 -curve of the 54 towards Elmers End
5.10 -curve of the 341 towards Tottenham
5.11 -curve of the 63 towards Kings Cross
5.12 -curve of the 109 towards Brixton
5.13 -curve of the 18 towards Euston
5.14 -curve of the 29 towards Trafalgar Square
5.15 -curve of the 171 towards Catford, showing a sharp fall at the end of
the route
5.16 -curve of 171 towards Catford with the number of buses reaching each
stop superimposed
5.17 -curves of the 419 in both directions
5.18 -curve of the P13 towards Streatham
5.19 -curves of the 232 towards Neasden and the 487 towards Willesden
5.20 -curves of the 337 towards Richmond and the P13 towards New Cross
5.21 Reproduction of Figure 2.2
5.22 Graph of the coefficient of variation of the headway against distance
downstream (from a numerical example given in Adebisi, 1986)
5.23 -curve for a simulated bus route with a 5-minute headway
5.24 -curves for simulated routes with different headways
5.25 Comparison of -curves of a simulated 5 minute headway service with
an equivalent real service the 24 towards Hampstead
5.26 Exponential model relating modal headway to
5.27 Logarithmic model relating passenger numbers to
5.28 Comparison of the actual values of the hold-out samples with the curve
of the regression model
6.1 Reproduction of Figure 5.3.


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vi










List of Tables







































6.2 Reproduction of Figure 5.9
6.3 Reproduction of Figure 5.11
6.4 Reproduction of Figure 5.13
6.5 Reproduction of Figure 5.25
6.6 Reproduction of Figure 5.28

61
61
61
62
64
4.1 Selected routes and their headways
4.2 Example of records of overtaking buses
5.1 Summary of the bunching metrics by route
5.2 Summary of the linear regression analysis for the three dependent
variables
5.3 Summary of the successful linear regression models
5.4 Rotated component matrix from the factor analysis
5.5 Summary of the performance of the regression model against the hold-
out samples
6.1 Reproduction of Table 5.1
6.2 Reproduction of Table 5.3

16
23
29

51
53
56
57

58
63
vii

Glossary of abbreviations and technical
terms


AVL. Automatic vehicle location. A system that enables operators to track their
buses. Modern systems generally use GPS and on-board devices such as
odometers.

AWT. Average waiting time. Defined as:
AwI =
H
i
2
i
2 H
i
i
,
where H
i
is the headway on run i.


BREMS database. TfLs passenger database formed from electronic ticket machine
data.

Coefficient of variation. The standard deviation of a variable divided by the mean of
that variable.

Curtailment. A service control strategy whereby buses are turned around early in
order to fill a gap in the service in the opposite direction.

EWT. Excess waiting time. The standard measure of on-time performance used by
TfL on high frequency routes. Defined as:
EwI = AwI SwI.

GPRS. General packet radio service. The data network used by mobile phones.

GPS. Global positioning system. A satellite-based positioning system allowing
precise knowledge of position.

Headway. The time between successive arrivals of two buses at a particular point
along their route.

iBus. The AVL system used by TfL to track each bus in service in London.

K. A parameter thought to be critical in bunching behaviour. Defined by Newell and
Potts (1964) as: K =
Pusscngc uuI utc ut u stop
Pusscngc Ioudng utc
.

. The preferred measure of bunching for this dissertation. Defined as:
= 1
E o
E
s
o
,
where H is the headway, H
s
is the scheduled headway, and is the cut-off point at
which buses are considered 100% bunched (set at 30 seconds in this dissertation).

-curve. plotted against stop number for a particular route.

SWT. Scheduled waiting time (i.e. half the scheduled headway).

TfL. Transport for London. The public body responsible for planning and managing
the public transport network in London.
1

Chapter 1 - Introduction


1.1 Overview

Bus bunching is the phenomenon whereby two or more buses arrive at the same
point in quick succession. It is not thought to be simply a result of random variation in
initial headways, but of the following positive feedback effect. Assuming a steady
rate of passenger accumulation at stops, a bus which is delayed between two stops
will have more passengers to pick up at the second stop than would otherwise be the
case. The extra delay in picking up these extra passengers causes the bus to run a
little later, so that more passengers will be waiting at the next stop, and so on down
the route, with the bus becoming later and later. The next bus after the late one
(assuming this bus is not subject to an identical initial delay) will in turn have
progressively fewer passengers to pick up at each stop, and so will gradually
become more and more ahead of schedule, catching up on the delayed bus. Two
additional factors increase the magnitude of the positive feedback loop. Firstly, since
the second bus of a bunched pair has fewer passengers on board, it is therefore less
likely to stop at bus stops with no waiting passengers in order to allow passengers
on the bus to alight. Secondly, the extra passengers travelling on the leading bus of
a bunched pair add to its weight significantly a half load of passengers on a double
decker bus increases its weight by around 3 tonnes or 28%
1
. This additional weight
causes slower average speeds in leading buses compared with following buses,
further exacerbating bunching.

Bunching is an undesirable phenomenon, both from the point of view of passengers
using the service, and from that of service operators. From passengers point of
view, the more regular a bus service is, the less time is wasted in the allowances
made for irregularity. These time savings can be monetised in the usual way,
allowing for the fact that waiting time is generally acknowledged to be valued at
around 1.6 times in vehicle time.
2
Thus when passengers assess the relative merits
of different modes of transport, service regularity is a key concern. Since bus
operators seek to attract passengers, it is therefore important to them to minimise
bunching, and various techniques have been developed to do so. These include the
provision of infrastructure (such as bus lanes), careful planning of timetables, and
the use of real time service control to split up paired buses. However, such
measures are expensive to implement, and are by no means perfectly successful.
There is, therefore, a clear economic motivation for planners to seek to understand
bunching behaviour, in order that it can be minimised with a minimum of capital and
operational cost, and that passengers can use bus services with a minimum waste of
their time.

The iBus system in London offers a new opportunity for studying real world bus
bunching. iBus, fully implemented in 2009, incorporates an automatic vehicle
location (AVL) system which tracks the position of the 8,500 buses in use in London.
Each vehicle keeps detailed records of its position as it progresses along its route,
which is stored centrally for analysis. With this data it is possible to know to the
nearest second the time at which a given bus reaches a given stop. This makes iBus
an ideal data source for the study of bunching, at an extremely fine-grained level of
detail.

1
DfT, 2009, using figures for a Scania NUD / Alexander Double Deck with air conditioning.
Assumes a maximum load of 101 passengers with an average weight of 65 kg (around 10.24 stone).
2
Balcombe, et al., 2004.
Chapter 1 - Introduction
2


1.2 Aims

1. To produce a satisfactory metric with which to measure bunching.
2. To use iBus data to establish the severity of bunching on the routes being
studied, according to the metric derived for Aim 1.
3. To use the metric to investigate how bunching varies with time of day, and
how it develops down a route.
4. To ascertain whether bunching occurs because of the positive feedback effect
discussed above, or whether it is simply a result of natural variation in bus
speeds.
5. To use statistical tests to assess which factors of a route are most closely
associated with bunching.
6. To construct an empirical model using the iBus data that uses the factors from
Aim 5 to predict how severe bunching will be on a given route.
7. To test this model against one or more hold-out samples to ascertain how
successful it is at predicting bunching.
8. To compare the results obtained in this dissertation with those of earlier
studies, summarised in the literature review.


1.3 Structure

The remainder of this dissertation will be structured as follows. Chapter 2 will give an
overview of the relevant literature in the study of bus bunching, including both
theoretical analyses and empirical studies making use of AVL data. Chapter 3 will
present some background information about the nature of Londons bus system,
including iBus and service control. Chapter 4 will give a detailed account of the
methodology used to select and analyse the data. Chapter 5 will present the results
of the analysis. Finally, Chapter 6 will summarise the findings of the research, and
suggest ways in which it could be extended.
3

Chapter 2 - Literature review


2.1 Theoretical analysis

The extensive range of theoretical analyses of bunching in transit vehicles, often in
the mathematical or scientific journals, is broadly acknowledged to have been
instigated by Newell and Potts (1964). In this seminal paper, the authors derive a
model which depends crucially on K, defined as:
K =
Pusscngc uuI utc ut u stop
Pusscngc Ioudng utc
.
Behaviour of buses within the model is such that headways between buses are
unstable, from the frame of reference of a particular bus run. If any disturbance
causes a buss headway to become shorter or longer than scheduled at a particular
stop, this deviation is always magnified as the bus progresses down the route. The
behaviour of the whole system following a disturbance (as opposed to that of
individual bus runs) depends on the value of K within the system. If K <
1
2
, the
system is stable, and headways at the affected stop will return to normal, more
quickly as K decreases in magnitude. If
1
2
< K < 1, the system is unstable, and the
headway disturbance will be amplified as successive buses reach the stop.

The authors suggest that the tendency of buses to bunch can be reduced by drivers
reacting to seeing preceding buses ahead, by buses skipping stops due to
overcrowding, and by empty buses overtaking full ones. They note that the
importance of keeping K small in order to minimise the impact of disturbances
implies that the best way to minimise bunching within the system is to maximise the
passenger loading rate. On this evidence therefore, the fact that passenger loading
rates on articulated buses are somewhat higher than on conventional buses, would
lead one to predict that bunching might be less prevalent on routes served by
articulated buses than those served by conventional buses.

Daganzo (2009) constructs a different model with similar implications. The
characteristic equation of this model is:

o
n, s+1
o
n, s
+c
s
+ [
s
(o
n, s
o
n-1, s
E) + v
n, s+1
,

where o
n, s
is the arrival time of bus n at stop s,
c
s
is the controlled time between stop s and s+1,
[
s
is the expected number of passenger arrivals in segment (s, s+1)
during the average marginal delay induced by one boarding move
(which is exactly equivalent to K as defined in Newell and Potts, 1964),
H is the scheduled headway, and
v
n, s+1
is the random variation in running time in segment (s, s+1).

It can be seen that this equation implies a positive feedback loop given a disturbance
in the running time. If (o
n, s
o
n-1, s
) > B (i.e. the headway is greater than
scheduled between buses n and n-1 at stop s), then the arrival time of bus n at stop
s+1 will become later, since by definition [
s
> 0. If (o
n, s
o
n-1, s
) < B, then bus n
will arrive at stop s+1 more quickly. In short, late buses become later and early
buses become earlier. The larger the value of [
s
, the stronger the attraction or
repulsion between consecutive buses. The author observes that the probability
density function of the noise term, v
n, s+1
, has high tails, i.e. there is a relatively
Chapter 2 Literature review
4

high chance of extreme variation. On this basis slack time of four standard deviations
of the noise term is recommended to be scheduled at control points.

Hill (2003) produces a simple model which shows clearly that the tendency of buses
to bunch can only be compensated for by adjusting the velocities of buses. Again,
the critical parameter (which he calls ) in the severity of bunching is equivalent to K
in Newell and Potts, 1964. Hill observes that for bunching to be prevented, bus
drivers need to react immediately to deviations from the scheduled headway,
speeding up when behind, and slowing down when ahead. He observes that in
practice drivers tend only to react when they can see a preceding bus ahead of
them, and this is why bunching occurs. However, this is not the case in London,
where extensive control mechanisms are employed (see Section 3.3). Hill runs some
simulations to test how quickly one might expect to see disturbances from headways
form as a bus progresses down its route. Figure 2.1 shows how many stops one
would expect the bus to have to travel before deviating from the schedule by a
certain number of minutes. The simulation predicts that one might expect lower
frequency buses to serve hundreds of stops before a bunching impact is observed
due to passenger boardings (though of course deviations from the schedule can
occur for other reasons).


Figure 2.1. Source: Hill, 2003.

Turnquist (1981) examines the importance of various factors in reducing the
standard deviation of journey times (which is likely to imply a reduction in bunching).
His simulations indicate that vehicle frequency is a dominant factor in headway
variability. He also observes that reducing variation along individual links of the route
will reduce variation over the whole route, and that priority for buses at signalised
junctions should therefore be expected to reduce journey time variability. His
simulations verify this, along with the positive impact that exclusive bus lanes can
have on journey time variation.

Adebisi (1986) presents a model of headway variance dependent on two factors.
The first he calls the route factor the conditions of the highway, including traffic.
The second is the bus loading factor, which is dependent on demand, and also on
the route factor. The author observes that where the route factor predominates in
determining the extent of headway variance, it is possible to design in infrastructural
features to reduce variance, for example bus lanes. Where the bus loading factor
dominates, headway-based control schemes, such as holding at stops, are likely to
be more appropriate. Adebisi also predicts that abrupt changes in demand, such as
those that occur in the transition between peak and off-peak, are likely to cause
increases in headway variation. He presents a brief numerical example giving the
Chapter 2 Literature review
5

headways coefficient of variation along the route of a putative bus service. This will
be returned to in Chapter 5.

Abkowitz et al. (1986) provide a treatment that is in a sense half way between
theoretical and experimental, by using Monte Carlo techniques to produce an
empirical model of headway variance as a function of mean headway and journey
time variance. An interesting prediction of this model is that headway variation
increases non-linearly with distance down the route see Figure 2.2.


Figure 2.2. Source: Abkowitz et al., 1986. The curve of interest is the one to the extreme left (the other two
indicate headway variation following implementation of a specific holding strategy at stops 4 and 10).


2.2 Experimental research

Since the advent of advanced GPS-based automatic vehicle location (AVL) systems
in the last two decades or so, many studies have sought to analyse bus performance
using the generated data. Many of these projects have investigated bunching insofar
as it affects service reliability, though few have focused particularly on bunching
itself.

Peng et al. (2008) analysed AVL data from a one-week period on Bus Route 20 in
Chicago, a service with a peak headway of around 7 minutes. This study aimed to
examine patterns in long gaps, defined as headways over 50% longer than
scheduled headways, and in bunching, defined as two buses arriving within one
minute of each other. The methodological approach was to carry out regression
analyses on large gaps and bunching, to ascertain whether a bunch or a large gap at
one time point gave rise to a bunch or large gap at the following time point. A total of
9 time points were used. The study found that there was no significant correlation
between bunching at one time point and bunching at the following time point, and
concluded that bunching does not propagate down the route of this service. Similar
analysis of long gaps found that there was a significant relationship linking one time-
point to the next, and that therefore long gaps do propagate down the route of the
service. However, it was found that the long gaps tended to diminish as individual
services progressed down the route. These findings are in contrast to the prediction
of the theoretical models detailed in the previous section, which is that bunches and
large gaps in individual services will become more severe as the bus moves down
the route. A related finding is that the overall proportion of long gaps increases with
distance along the route, in both directions. Unfortunately, an equivalent result for
bunching is not presented.

Chapter 2 Literature review
6

Strathman et al., (2002) studied data from 15 bus routes in Portland, Oregon to find
relationships between several independent variables and journey time. An interesting
implication of this study is that the identity of bus drivers has a significant effect on
journey times, accounting for 17% of journey time variation. Several attributes of
drivers were tested for significance, but only driver experience was found to be
significant: on average each month of experience was found to decrease running
time by 0.57 seconds. The study also notes that there is some seasonal variation in
journey times, raising the question of whether this might be the case in bunching.

Another study by the same group (Strathman et al., 1999) of 8 routes in Portland,
Oregon also produced some interesting results. Of particular relevance to this
dissertation is the emergence of extreme bunching in the evening peak of bus
services, a phenomenon noted by several other studies. It is discovered that a 15%
decrease in bunching occurred following the introduction of a bus despatching
system using real-time AVL, a more basic forerunner of TfLs iBus system.

Abkowitz and Engelstein (1983) as cited in Abkowitz and Tozzi (1987) created a
regression model from data from buses in Cincinnati, Ohio. Their model, later
successfully tested on data from South California and Boston, took several
independent variables and predicted segment journey time. Independent variables
included: segment length, number of signalised junctions, number of
boardings/alightings, percentage of route with on-street parking, and dummy
variables for particular time periods. Since journey time and bus bunching are fairly
closely related, the success of this model would appear to suggest that a similar
model might be derived for bus bunching.

Kulash (1971) as cited in Abkowitz et al. (1987) presents a study of a bus route in
Boston. This shows that the variance of headways at the beginning of the route (0.8
min
2
) is far exceeded by that midway down the route (26.1 min
2
). This is evidence in
favour of propagation of disturbances down a bus route. Kulash also observes that
the headway distribution downstream on the route approaches an exponential
distribution.

Abkowitz et al. (1987) also make some important observations concerning the
causes of service unreliability. They argue that while the positive feedback loop
arising from passenger boardings is a factor in variability of headways, a more
important factor is simply the variation in journey times. They cite a simulation study
by Bly and Jackson (1974) in which journey time variation had a far greater impact
than bus stop dwell time variation on headway variation.

Feng and Figliozzi (2011) undertook a study of the Route 15 in Portland, Oregon.
Their definition of bunching is that two buses are bunched if the headway between
them is less than three minutes. Their work suggests that bunching may propagate
down the route, and that holding strategies at control points may serve to mitigate
bunching. They also observe that bunching becomes rather more severe during
times of higher frequency service though this should not be too surprising given
their definition of bunching.


7

Chapter 3 Background information


3.1 Londons buses

London has a fleet of around 8,500 buses
1
. On a typical week day, around 7,000 of
these are in scheduled service, operating on around 700 routes. Each week day,
around 6 million passenger trips are completed on the network. Bus services are
managed by London Bus Services Limited (known as London Buses), part of
Surface Transport, one of the three main directorates of Transport for London (TfL).
TfL is the integrated body responsible for the planning and management of Londons
transport system. It is a publicly-owned body, responsible to the Mayor of London
and the Greater London Assembly.

Londons bus network is extensive. There are around 19,500 bus stops, and it is
estimated that more than 90% of Londoners live within 400 metres of a bus stop.
The network has seen considerable investment in the last decade, and this has been
rewarded with high levels of passenger growth. In the decade from 1999/2000 to
2009/2010, annual passenger-km grew by 81%
2
- see Figure 3.1.


Figure 3.1. Annual bus passenger-km on TfL buses. Source: TfL 2010a, Figure 2.4, p. 47. Note that a new
estimation method was introduced in 2007/2008.

Several different types of vehicle are used, ranging from small midi-buses to
double-deckers and articulated or bendy buses. These have been subject to some
controversy in recent years, with the current Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, having
issued the promise to remove articulated buses from Londons streets in the run up
to his 2008 election. Articulated buses are perceived as unsafe and costly
3
, though
there is limited evidence to support this. At the time of the stop-data obtained for this
study, 5 articulated routes had been converted to double decker services. One has
been converted since (the 25), and the remaining 6 will be by the end of 2011.


1
Information in this section is largely derived from TfL sources (TfL 2010c, 2010d and 2009).
2
TfL (2010a), Table 2.5, p. 46.
3
See for example Cohen, 2008 and Kisiel, 2009.
0
1,000
2,000
3,000
4,000
5,000
6,000
7,000
8,000
9,000
P
a
s
s
e
n
g
e
r

k
i
l
o
m
e
t
r
e
s

(
m
i
l
l
i
o
n
s
)
Chapter 3 Background information

8

London buses operate on a wide range of headways from 2-3 minutes in the peak on
busy routes, to 24 hours on very low demand routes. Services are classified as high
frequency when modal headways are 12 minutes or less, and low frequency when
they are 15 minutes or more (there are no headways between 12 and 15 minutes
because of clockface running). Reliability is measured differently for the two types of
service. For high frequency services, the measure used is excess waiting time
(EWT). This is a measure of how many passenger-minutes are wasted in waiting for
late services, defined by
EwI = AwI SwI,
where AWT is the average actual waiting time, and SWT is the scheduled waiting
time (i.e. half the scheduled headway). The average wait time is defined as:
AwI =
E

2 E



where H
i
is the headway on run i. This formula takes into account the fact that more
passengers will be waiting at the end of a long gap than at the end of a short gap.

For low frequency services, on time performance is used. A bus is considered on
time if it departs up to 2 minutes early or up to 5 minutes late, with respect to the
published schedule. The percentage of buses departing on time can then be used to
gauge a routes performance.

3.1.1 Regulatory framework

While the rest of Great Britains bus operations were deregulated in 1986, and
subsequently largely privatised, London was exempted from this process. Instead,
bus services in London were tendered, such that contracts for particular routes were
awarded to operators able to run the most successful service at the lowest cost
(known as Gross Cost contracts). Initially, publicly owned subsidiaries of London
Buses competed with private companies for these services, but these were all
privatised by 1994. From the mid-1990s, Net Cost contracts were also awarded, in
which the revenue risk was transferred to the operator. In 2001, both forms of
contract were replaced by Quality Incentive Contracts (QICs). QICs are similar to
Gross Cost contracts in that TfL retain the revenue. However, there are also financial
rewards and penalties for operators linked to quality of service.

London Buses are responsible for planning routes and specifying service
frequencies and vehicle types. Routes are tendered separately every 5-7 years, and
a review of each route is undertaken by London Buses before tender. Contracts are
awarded based on costs, but also taking into account other factors, including safety
and competition. Contracts are generally 5 years in length, but with a possible 2 year
extension if performance levels are met (see below).

Incentives are in the following forms:
1. Reliability performance payments. Reliability targets are set by London Buses
for each individual route during the tender specification process. The relevant
measure is defined differently for low frequency and high frequency routes.
o For high frequency routes the unit of measure is 0.1 minute change in
EWT.
o For low frequency routes, the unit of measure is a 2.0 percentage point
change in on time performance percentage.
Bonus payments of 1.5% of the overall contract price are made for every
whole unit of measure above the target level for that route, to a maximum of
15%. Penalty payments of 1% of the overall contact price are imposed for
every unit of measure below the specified route target, to a maximum of 10%.
Chapter 3 Background information

9

2. Contract extensions. An extension threshold related to reliability of service is
set at the outset of the tender. If the operators performance exceeds this
threshold, they are automatically eligible for a two-year extension to the
contract, which they are able to accept or decline.
3. Quality performance payments. These are further incentive payments based
on the standard of driving, and the interior and exterior presentation of
vehicles.
4. Lost km adjustments. In general, the number of bus-km operated in a given
period is less than the number of scheduled bus-km. Some of these lost km
will be due to circumstances under the operators control e.g. staff
shortages, mechanical failure, etc. The operator is fined the same proportion
of the contract price as the proportion of lost km to scheduled km. Note that
the operator is not fined for lost km beyond their control, e.g. due to unusually
bad traffic conditions.

Clearly, the above measures act as a significant incentive to operators to keep
services as regular as possible. Bunching is therefore a serious concern of
controllers, as its corollary, long gaps, can result in a significant loss of revenue for
operators. Figure 3.2 shows how the introduction of QICs in 2001 had a major
impact on reliability in London Buses.


Figure 3.2. Change in reliability measures with time. Source: TfL 2010a, Table 4.7, p. 111.


3.2 iBus

The iBus system, fully operational in Spring 2009, is an Automatic Vehicle Location
(AVL) system. The iBus project cost around 117m, and was developed by Siemens
AG. It uses several complementary technologies to determine the location of each
bus in the London network, to an accuracy of around 10 metres. It does this using:
Global Positioning System (GPS)
Odometer (measuring distance travelled) and gyroscope (measuring
orientation), coupled with mapping software.
These mechanisms are contained within an on board unit on each bus, shown as G
in Figure 3.3. The on-board unit fulfils several functions, including the following:
1. It sends a GPRS message to a central server (K in Figure 3.3) every 30
seconds, containing information on the buss GPS location. This information is
60%
65%
70%
75%
80%
85%
0
0.5
1
1.5
2
2.5
O
n

t
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EWT On time performance
Chapter 3 Background information

10

fed in real time to route controllers, who use it to regulate the service (see
Section 3.3).
2. It logs the GPS location every second on its internal memory. This log is then
uploaded wirelessly every evening to a server within the garage when the bus
returns. This data is in turn uploaded to the London Reporting Datamart
database, where it is available for subsequent analysis of route performance,
etc.
These two functions are key to this dissertation. 1. concerns how buses are
regulated by the controllers, and 2. is the source of the bus stop data which is
analysed in Chapter 5.


Figure 3.3. Schematic of the iBus system. Source: TfL 2011b.

Several other functions that iBus carries out should be noted. Firstly, the on-board
unit matches GPS co-ordinates with bus stop mapping data, and provides on-board
audio announcements and dot matrix displays of the next bus stop. Secondly, the
central positional data is fed to the Countdown system, which consists of dot matrix
displays at selected busy bus stops, informing waiting passengers of expected
Chapter 3 Background information

11

arrival times of the next buses (see Figure 3.4 below). Before the introduction of
iBus, Countdown relied on radio beacon technology it was intended that the
introduction of iBus would make the information considerably more accurate. Thirdly,
iBus allows buses to talk to traffic signals, either through the central system, or
directly. This allows a late running bus to request priority through the signalised
junction, which can be granted under certain conditions. One might expect this to
have a lessening effect on bunching.


Figure 3. 4. Countdown dot matrix display. Source: TfL, 2011b.

TfL is currently undertaking the technically challenging task of integrating the
electronic ticket machines on each bus with the iBus system. This would enable TfL
to know exactly how many people board each bus at each stop. Currently this is
estimated using on-bus surveys, which are costly, and provide a snapshot of
boarding profiles on a route renewed only every five years. It would have been
fascinating to have passenger data for the purposes of this dissertation, in order to
gain a better understanding of the interaction between passenger loadings and
bunching.


3.3 Service control
4


Bunching is an undesirable phenomenon from the point of view of both the operator
and the passenger. The more severe the bunching, the more inefficient the use of
the operators expensive resources. Compare a route served by severely bunched
pairs of buses with one served by regularly spaced single buses. The former could
offer the same frequency as the latter, but with twice as many buses, and therefore
double the costs (though with double the capacity). Since an extra bus on a London
route costs around 120,000 per year in capital and operational costs, it can be seen
that bunching is potentially a very expensive problem for London bus operators.
Highly variable headways are also very inconvenient for passengers, and this could
cause some of the passenger base to seek alternative modes of transport. In
addition, the fact that in an uneven service most passengers will arrive at a stop in a
long gap, means that more passengers will tend to travel on overcrowded leading
buses another off-putting factor.

Given the above facts, operators around the world go to considerable effort to
implement steps to minimise bunching. Strategies can be broadly grouped into
infrastructural, planning, and operational. Infrastructural measures include bus lanes,
bus gates (traffic signals giving buses priority on pulling out of stops) and traffic
signal priority. All of these exist in the London network.


4
The content in this section is derived largely from the authors discussions with Terry Butler,
manager of the Arriva North control room in Dalston, North London (Butler, 2011).
Chapter 3 Background information

12

Planning strategies to mitigate bunching include building in sufficient recovery time at
each end of the bus route such that the vast majority of services are able to adhere
to their scheduled departure time. However, there is a balance to be struck here, as
too much recovery time results in expensive resources being underused.

Operational service control is a complex undertaking. With the advent of AVL in the
last decade or so, and the iBus system in London in 2009, the task has been
simplified somewhat. Before these tools became available, controllers were
deployed along the route, and sought to regulate the headways of buses leaving a
particular stop. iBus now offers centrally-based controllers real time information on
the position of the buses under their management. In London, one controller is
typically responsible for anything from one very busy route to three less busy routes.
Information is conveyed to them in the form of a colour display showing buses
moving around the route (see Figure 3.5). As stated in the previous section, the
position of each bus is updated roughly every 30 seconds. Controllers are normally
former drivers themselves, and so have a good practical understanding of service
control issues.


Figure 3.5. Screenshot of the software used by the route controllers. Buses are colour-coded according
to adherence to schedule. Source: personal communication with TfL.

Various strategies to minimise bunching along a route are employed. They include:
1. Holding an early-running bus at a particular point to even out headways.
2. Instructing a late-running bus to skip several stops in order to catch up with
the preceding bus.
3. Turning a bus around before it reaches the end of the route in order to fill
in a hole in the service in the opposite direction (known as curtailment).
Chapter 3 Background information

13

4. Reducing the speed between stops of early-running buses. Note that
instructing an early-running driver to increase her speed is avoided for
safety reasons.
5. Sending out a bus to begin part-way along the route.
Strategies 1 and 3 are clearly unpopular with passengers on the bus, while 2 is
unpopular for those waiting at skipped stops, and used in London only under
exceptional circumstances. Regularly implementing any of strategies 1-3 is therefore
likely to have a detrimental impact on ridership. Keeping buses in reserve to fill in
gaps in the service, as in strategy 5, involves increased operating costs for bus
operators.

In London, the most common of these strategies is strategy 4. This is popular with
controllers and drivers, because it is not easily perceived by the passengers of the
bus in question. Indeed, the strategy is, to an extent, automatic, in that the iBus
system also includes a display in every drivers cab indicating how many minutes
ahead or behind schedule the driver is. Strategy 3 is also widely used by controllers,
though care has to be taken to avoid reducing capacity where the stops at the end of
the route have high demand. For example, one would not want to curtail many buses
terminating at Victoria station during the morning peak, as this would lead to an
unmanageable build-up of passengers at Victoria. In addition, each lost bus-mile
costs operators around 7-8 as a result of quality incentive contracts. This is one
simple illustration of the many conflicting considerations that controllers have to take
into account while regulating their route(s). This complexity explains why automatic
service control software is not yet in use judgment plays a key role.

One final observation to make is that Butler (2011) emphasises strongly the role that
driver behaviour can have in influencing service control. Despite their job title,
controllers are only able to exert control if drivers cooperate with their instructions.
This can be difficult to achieve where instructions conflict with the drivers own
wishes, or where passengers become restive, for example if a bus is held at a
particular stop. This somewhat gives the lie to the highly sophisticated service
control strategies advocated in the mathematical literature (for example in Hill, 2003).
Given that it is impossible to describe mathematically a drivers state of mind,
seeking to devise a strategy based on controlling vehicle speed very precisely
seems rather futile, at least until the advent of driverless buses. These observations
gain evidential support from the Strathman et al. study described in Section 2.2, in
which bus driver identity predicted 17% of journey time variation (Strathman et al.,
2002).
14

Chapter 4 Methodology


4.1 Bunching metric

In a practical examination of bunching, where aims include describing observed
levels of bunching, and predicting its severity, it is extremely important to decide on
the right definition of bunching itself. A key consideration is that bunching is a time-
based, as opposed to a distance-based, phenomenon. From a passengers point of
view, the important thing is how closely spaced in time buses are rather than in
distance. Thus the metric should be predicated on bus timings rather than observed
distances. This has important ramifications for the type of data required to compute
the metric (see Section 4.3). A second key consideration to highlight is that a study
of bunching is concerned with successive headways of buses, rather than adherence
to a schedule. For example, it is possible for every bus on a particular route to arrive
10 minutes late, and yet for no bunching to be taking place. Thus, a metric should
take into account headways rather than lateness with respect to a schedule.

A number of different approaches are possible.
1. The standard metric for measuring bus punctuality, and the one favoured by
London Buses, is excess waiting time (EWT see Section 3.1). This is
unsuitable for measuring bunching, as it measures excess waiting time over
and above what is expected. EWT could be high even with no bunching (for
example if one bus is removed from a service), and can be low even with
severe bunching (for example if extra buses are introduced).
2. Standard deviation of observed headway variations from the scheduled
headway. This suffers from a similar problem to EWT. If scheduled headways
are all identically longer (or shorter) than scheduled, this metric would be non-
zero even if headways are all regular.
3. The coefficient of variation of headways, C, defined as:
C =
StonJorJ Jc:iotion o coJwoy :oriotions
Hcon sccJulcJ coJwoy
.
This is recommended in The Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Manual
(Transportation Research Board, 2003). While one would expect this to
increase with increased bus bunching, it suffers from the same weaknesses
as Metrics 1 and 2, and therefore will not be used.
4. The proportion of bunched buses given a certain critical headway below which
all buses are considered bunched. This can be:
a. Absolute. For example, the Chicago Transit Authority describes
buses arriving within 60 seconds of the previous bus as bunched
(Cham, 2006). This will be expressed as H
c
, where c is the cut-
off point below which buses are considered bunched.
b. Relative to the scheduled headway. For example, the proportion
of buses running at headways less than or equal to 25% of the
intended headway (as suggested in Bellei and Gkoumas, 2010).
This will be expressed as h
c
, where c is the proportion of the
headway below which buses are considered bunched.
5. Metric 4 would be suitable for describing bunching, but it is a little crude in that
buses are described as bunched or not given a certain arbitrary cut off point.
For example, for H
60
, a bus that arrives 59 seconds after its predecessor
would be considered bunched, while one arriving 61 seconds after its
predecessor would not be. One can derive a new more continuous metric
Chapter 4 - Methodology
15

which might be more suitable for the purposes of this dissertation in the
following way.
a. Intuitively, one might suggest that buses running at exactly the
scheduled headway should be considered 0% bunched.
Conversely, buses arriving at exactly the same time, i.e. with a
headway of 0 seconds should be considered 100% bunched.
This suggests the following for Metric, M:
H = 1
E
E
s
,
where H is the actual headway (the time between the arrival of
the previous bus and that being considered) and H
s
is the
scheduled headway. The fraction in this metric is known as the
headway ratio, H
R
(see, for example, Strathman, et al., 1999). It
can be seen that as HH
s
, M0 (or 0%); and as H0, M1 (or
100%). This metric is what was intuitively wished for. M for a stop
could then be found by averaging values of M for buses arriving
at the stop. M for a route could in turn be found by averaging
over all of the stops on the route. In doing so it would be
necessary to impose the condition that M 0, so that negative
values of M for headways larger than H
s
are set to 0, and do not
cancel out positive values of M from bunched buses.
b. A criticism of Metric 5a is that the condition of H = 0 for 100%
bunching is too strong, that it rules out some buses that one
would intuitively consider bunched. For example, if two buses
arrive at a stop only 10 seconds apart, it might be considered
that they are 100% bunched. Metric 5a can be modified slightly
to take this into account as follows:
= 1
E o
E
s
o
,
where is the time beyond which buses are considered 100%
bunched
1
(e.g. 10 seconds). behaves in a similar way to M: as
HH
s
, 0 (or 0%); and as H, 1 (or 100%). Again, this is
what one would intuitively wish. We must now impose the
condition 0 1 so that when H < , is set to 1: buses
cannot be more than 100% bunched. Note that M as 0, so
the choice of a small value of compared with H
s
and H will
mean that there is little difference between Metrics 5a and 5b.
While the choice of is arbitrary as with the cut-off in Metrics 4a
and 4b, the use of a sliding scale type metric means that the
arbitrary choice is far less crucial. In this dissertation, will be
set to 30 seconds, a value at which buses might sensibly be
considered 100% bunched.

For the purposes of this dissertation, the following metrics will be used:

H
60

H
30

h
0.25

is considered the most useful of these metrics, because of its continuous nature. It
will therefore be favoured over the others in the analysis.


1
Alternatively, could be set to the minimum physically possible headway between two successive
buses, or to the average dwell time of buses at a stop.
Chapter 4 - Methodology
16

4.2 Route selection

As the aim of the dissertation was to examine in detail the bunching behaviour of
Londons buses, and it was thought that bunching would be most prevalent among
high-frequency buses, it was decided that the first routes to be selected should be
those of the highest frequency. Data on route frequencies were obtained from
London Bus Routes (2011), and sorted by frequency in Excel. From this, the nine
most frequent routes were chosen, having weekday headways of 4, 5 or 5-6 minutes
(see top nine rows of Table 4.1). As there were a further 23 routes with headways of
6 minutes, routes from this group were selected in order to be representative of
London geographically (see Figures 4.1 - 4.5). This was done by plotting the routes
already selected on a map, and choosing new routes to fill in gaps. In this way 6
routes with headways of 6 minutes were added to the previous 9. These high
frequency routes would, it was hoped, provide some evidence of bunching
behaviour. However, it was also of interest to investigate the relationship between
frequency and bunching behaviour, so a further 16 routes were selected with
progressively lower frequencies, again such that they would be geographically
representative of London.

Route number Headway (mins)
18 4
12 5
24 5
41 5
94 5
25 5-6
29 5-6
253 5-6
254 5-6
63 6
87 6
109 6
279 6
472 6
H37 6
205 7-8
147 8
171 8
184 10
333 10
341 10
388 10
54 12
153 12
337 12
272 15
419 15
487 15
166 20
232 20
P13 20
Table 4.1.




Chapter 4 - Methodology
17


Figure 4.1. Overview of selected routes. Note that Route 166, depicted in light blue at the extreme south
of the map, does not appear in Figure 4.3, as it was later dropped (see Section 4.4.3).




















Chapter 4 - Methodology
18











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Chapter 4 - Methodology
19











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Chapter 4 - Methodology
20










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Chapter 4 - Methodology
21











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Chapter 4 - Methodology
22

4.3 Date selection

To maximise the chances of bunching being observed, weekdays were preferred to
weekends, in the same way that high frequency routes were preferred to low
frequency. In order to minimise the effects of any anomalous traffic conditions, days
in successive weeks were chosen. For the same reason, different days in the
successive weeks were chosen. The dates selected were:
7
th
February 2011 (Monday)
15
th
February 2011 (Tuesday)
23
rd
February 2011 (Wednesday)
3
rd
March 2011 (Thursday)
11
th
March 2011 (Friday)

It should be noted that the 23
rd
of February was in the state school half term, when
traffic levels and bus demand are typically somewhat lower than in term time. This
shall be returned to in Section 5.2.


4.4 Data selection and cleaning

As discussed in Section 4.1, the data required are time point data, i.e. the times at
which buses reach certain way-points. As London Buses focus is on bus stops, their
time-point data use bus stops as way-points. Fortunately, this is perfectly adequate
for the purposes of this dissertation.

Data were obtained from the London Reporting Datamart database via a terminal in
the TfL Palestra building, in comma separated variable form, as a separate file for
each day. These data were uploaded onto a personal computer, and imported into
Microsoft Access as five separate tables, one for each day. Each table contained a
row for each stop made by each bus on each of the 31 routes selected: around
370,000 rows per table. Relevant fields were:
Shortdesc. This is the route number of the bus.
Direction. Either 1 or 2 to indicate the direction of the bus.
Tripnr. This is the running order of the bus, the first bus being numbered 1,
the second 2, etc. Buses in a particular direction are either all odd or all even.
Stoppointid. This is a unique number identifying a particular bus stop.
Stopsequence. This indicates where on the route a bus stop comes, e.g. 10
for the 10
th
stop. Note that this is different for each direction of a route.
Scheduleddistance. This indicates the distance (in metres) between the stop
represented by this row and the previous stop.
Sched Dist In Trip. This indicates cumulative distance (in metres) along the
route.
Observed Arrival Time. The time to the nearest second at which the bus
arrived at the stop.
Observed Departure Time. The time to the nearest second at which the bus
departed from the stop.
Observed Headway. The time (in seconds) between the departure of this bus
and the departure of the previous bus from this stop.
Scheduled Headway. The intended time (in seconds) between the departure
of this bus and the departure of the previous bus from this stop.
Operatorid. This is a unique number identifying which operator runs the bus
route.
Chapter 4 - Methodology
23

Patternid. This indicates which stopping pattern a bus is following. This can
vary slightly according to time of day.
Nightbus. Bus stops scheduled between midnight and 05:00 are considered to
be night-time stops. These are marked with a 1 within this field; others are
marked with a 0.
Observed. This binary value indicates whether the bus was logged by the
system at this particular stop 1 if yes, 0 if no.
Unscheduled. This binary value indicates whether the bus was on an
unscheduled run or not, 1 for unscheduled, 0 for scheduled.

The data were cleaned by querying the tables for all relevant fields to exclude lines
(i.e. stop events) according to the following conditions:
Tripnr > 2. This was to prevent the first runs in either direction being included
in the analysis. Scheduled Headways for these runs were set at zero, which
would have distorted the headway-based metrics. This excluded 0.66% of the
data.
Scheduled Headway 0. This was to prevent any further Scheduled
Headways with values of zero distorting the metrics. These may have
occurred due to glitches in the system. This excluded 1.56% of the data.
Observed = 1. This caused only observed stops to be included in the analysis.
Stops with Observed = 0 had mostly empty fields. This excluded 6.29% of the
data.
Nightbus = 0. As some routes ran a night bus service and some did not, this
condition was imposed so that only day-time runs would be considered, to
allow fair comparison between routes. This excluded 3.03% of the data.
Unscheduled = 0. This prevented unusual stopping patterns from distorting
the results. This excluded 0.86% of the data.

It should be noted that it was not necessary to adjust for overtaking (as
recommended in, for example, Trompet, et al., 2011), as this is done automatically
by iBus. For example, consider Table 4.2, showing records taken from Route 109 in
Direction 1 (towards Brixton) at stop 20 on the 11
th
March.

Tripnr Observed Departure Time Headway
33 07:18:18 6:14
35 07:21:06 2:48
37 07:22:59 1:53
39 07:26:35 3:36
41 07:49:07 3:03
43 07:40:01 13:26
45 07:46:04 6:03
47 07:55:08 6:01
49 07:57:39 2:31
Table 4.2.
This shows the departures (headways are calculated using departures) of
successive buses on this service from this stop. Observe that Trip Number 43 has
overtaken Trip Number 41 and arrives at the stop first. Next comes Trip Number 45,
and finally Trip Number 41. The crucial fact is that the headway of Trip Number 41 is
calculated using the Departure Time of the previous bus to depart from that stop, not
from the previous bus in the running order. Fortunately, this is exactly what is
required for this dissertation, as the headway-based metrics are concerned with
headways between successive buses, rather than between scheduled buses.
Chapter 4 - Methodology
24


In total, 10.20% of the data were excluded in the cleaning process, varying from
9.13% to 10.63% over the five days. These totals are smaller than the sum of those
for the cleaning conditions, as there is some overlap between the conditions, e.g. a
bus that is both unscheduled and a night bus.


4.5 Production of the metrics

4.5.1 By route

was produced for each line of the five tables, and then mean values of were
calculated for each bus route on each day. The mean across the five days, , was
then produced by combining the means for the five days. Strictly speaking, these are
not the true means, as there may have been a slightly different number of trips on
each route on each day. However, this is very unlikely to have had a significant
impact on the results, and was considerably easier to achieve computationally than
the true mean, given the data were in separate tables.

H
60
, H
30
, and h
0.25
were all produced similarly to each other. A dummy variable was
created such that the dummy variable was set at 1 if the relevant bunching criterion
was met, and set at 0 otherwise. The average values of the metrics for each route on
each day were then calculated by dividing the sum of this dummy variable by the
sum of the Observed field (i.e. the total number of stops for that route on that day).
This gave an average for each route on each day, and these were combined to find
the means for the route (B

60,
B

30
, and h

0.25
). The same note of caution applies to
these means as to that for , with respect to a possible very slight deviation from the
true mean.

4.5.2 By time of day

Mean values of were produced in 15 minute intervals by averaging values across
routes. This was done by querying the Observed Arrival Time field for the minutes
part of the time, dividing this by 15, and taking the integer part of the resulting
number. Results were analysed by day, and as an overall average.

4.5.3 By stop number

Mean values of the metrics at each bus stop along each route in each direction were
produced. The data first had to be filtered so that only the main stopping pattern was
used in the analysis. Otherwise, a particular stop number on one run might not
correspond to that on another. To ascertain which stopping pattern dominated each
route, a query was run showing how many stops each bus made on each stopping
pattern. In general, one stopping pattern far outweighed all the others, and the data
were duly filtered. However, on Route 166, the runs were split roughly in half
between two stopping patterns, one a shortened version of the other (corresponding
to the bus starting/terminating in Banstead rather than Epsom). This caused several
insurmountable problems, and Route 166 was therefore discarded.

was chosen as the variable to be plotted against stop number, because of the fact
that it is more continuous than the other three metrics, and therefore yielded
smoother curves even when floating averages were used.


Chapter 4 - Methodology
25

4.6 Simulation

In order to understand fully the results of the analysis with respect to , and in
particular to form a judgment of whether the positive feedback mechanism is at play
(see Aim 4), it was considered necessary to have some understanding of the
behaviour of in a system without positive feedback. Basic simulations were
therefore carried out for this purpose.

The simulations were run on Excel spreadsheets, using values drawn from a normal
distribution, generated using the rv.normal function in SPSS. 100 bus runs were
included in each simulation, with buses moving down a route with 50 stops, each
spaced 300m apart. A different set of simulations was run for four different
headways: 5 minute, 8 minute, 12 minute and 20 minute. Initial headways were
considered to be normally distributed, with the standard deviation of this distribution
being chosen such that the initial value of was similar to that observed in reality.
Speeds on each leg were also considered to be normally distributed, with means and
standard deviations chosen with reference to the real routes being studied, by
means of a simple query of the Access database. Only average leg speeds were
used, rather than a combination of travel time and dwell time. As both of these are
likely to be normally distributed, using normally distributed average speeds should
produce identical results, and was simpler to achieve. As overtaking was allowed in
the simulation, headways were reordered before the calculation of so that the
headway in question was between two consecutive buses, rather than two
consecutive runs (see Table 4.2 and associated comments).

It should be emphasised that these simulations are basic in nature. In particular they
are subject to the following limitations:
Only one mean headway is used, whereas in reality this varies somewhat with
time of day.
Speeds on each leg of the route were all based on the same mean and
standard deviation. In reality, some legs would be particularly slow, and some
particularly variable.
The assumption that initial headways are normally distributed may be a poor
one. Initially, the value of the standard deviation of initial headways was
estimated with reference to a query of the Access database (as with the
speeds), but this led to an initial value of that was far too high. It was
therefore decided to calibrate the standard deviation used to produce the
initial headways such that the initial value of in the simulations should
roughly match that in reality. The fact that a value of the standard deviation
close to reality in combination with an assumed normal distribution led to an
initial value of that was far too high, leads one to conclude that the
distribution of initial headways is not normal. It may be that the distribution is
skewed such that there are more headways that are longer than the average
than shorter.
There is no variation in mean speed from run to run. Evidence from other
studies suggests that there may be some run time variability due to driver
behaviour (e.g. Strathman et al., 2002). However, given that speeds of
London buses are generally extremely constrained by traffic conditions, this
may not be a major deficiency in the simulations.
Overtaking is instantaneous in the model used here, with no time penalty for
overtaking events. In reality, one bus might follow another for some time
before having an opportunity of overtaking.


Chapter 4 - Methodology
26

4.7 Regression analysis

4.7.1 Independent variables

Factors thought to be likely to have an impact on bunching behaviour were
ascertained from the literature review, from discussions with staff at TfL, and from a
priori consideration of how bunching arises. Relevant data were provided by various
sources within TfL, or derived from the Access database. Taking them one by one:
Route length. Provided by TfL.
Proportion of route on bus lanes. Provided by TfL.
Total traffic signals along the route. Provided by TfL.
Mean distance between stops. Derived from route length and total bus stops,
a simple query of the Access database.
Passenger numbers. These were obtained by querying the TfL BREMS
database, which is formed from electronic ticket machine data. The figures
are in passenger trips per day, averaged over the 5 week period in question. It
should be noted that the BREMS passenger volume data for articulated
routes are considered by TfL to be significant understatements of the real
case. They advised that when the Route 149 was recently converted from
articulated to double-decker, a four-fold increase in BREMS passenger
volume data was observed. On this basis, the passenger numbers for the
three articulated routes in this dissertation (12, 25 and 29) were increased by
a factor of 4.
Passengers per route-km. Derived from passenger volumes and route length.
Scheduled bus-km. Obtained from the TfL BREMS database.
Modal headway. This was deemed the most appropriate average to use to
represent headways. It was obtained by a simple query of the Access
database. It was pleasing to note that the headways thus obtained
corresponded exactly to those obtained from the London Bus Routes website
(London Bus Routes, 2011) for each route (see Table 4.1).
Mean journey time. This was a relatively complex task, ultimately
accomplished by querying the database for the difference between the
Observed Arrival Time at the final stop and the Observed Departure Time
from the first stop. These were then averaged over each day by route, and
over the five days to provide a final figure.
Standard deviation of journey time. Once the journey times had been derived
in order to find the mean speed, this was a relatively straightforward query.
Again, note that the final figure is an average over the five days.
Coefficient of variation of journey time. Derived by dividing the standard
deviation by the mean.
Mean speed. This was obtained by dividing the journey distance by the
journey time for each trip, and taking the mean of the result.
Average stop dwell time. This was found by subtracting the arrival time from
the departure time for each line, and taking the mean of the result.
Average dwell time per passenger. This was obtained by summing the total
dwell time, and dividing by total passenger numbers.
K. As defined in Newell and Potts, 1964 (see Section 2.1). The arrival rate
was found by dividing the total passenger volumes by the hours of operation
multiplied by the number of stops along the route. This gave arrival rates per
unit time per stop. The boarding rate was found by taking the inverse of
average dwell time per passenger (see above).
Chapter 4 - Methodology
27

Articulated. A dummy variable of 1 if the route is served by articulated buses,
and 0 otherwise. This information was obtained from London Bus Routes,
2011.
Operators. It was originally intended to use dummy variables to represent
service control strategies used by the operators. However, these were very
similar across the operators (see TfL, 2011a), so it was decided to represent
the operators themselves, to ascertain whether a difference in performance
could be observed. Four dummy variables were used to allow for
representation of the operator of a service, set at 1 if a service was run by the
relevant operator and 0 otherwise. The 30 services were run by a total of eight
operators, but of these only four operators ran more than two services. Only
these four operators were represented in the regression analysis:
o Arriva
o Go Ahead Group
o Stagecoach
o RATP
Six routes were run by operators other than the four above.

4.7.2 Hold-out samples

Before the analysis was carried out, a hold-out sample of 10% (i.e. three routes out
of thirty) was produced. This was done using the random number generator in
Microsoft Excel. The following conditions were imposed:
No route served by articulated buses would be included in the hold-out
sample. As there were only three routes served by articulated routes in the
sample as a whole, it was felt that if one or more were taken out of the
regression process, it would be difficult to discern what effect, if any,
articulated buses have on bunching behaviour.
A minimum of two routes with the same modal headway would remain in the
sample to be analysed (see Table 4.1). This was to ensure that no headway
would be under-represented in the analysed group.
No two routes with the same modal headway would be included in the hold-
out sample. This was to ensure a spread of routes to test the regression
model on.

The three routes selected for the hold-out sample under these conditions were:
41
63
341

4.7.3 Analysis

The analysis was carried out in PASW Statistics 18 (more commonly known as
SPSS). Each bus route was represented by one line or case, with fields representing
the independent variables detailed in the Section 4.5.1, as well as itself. It was also
decided to include two new measures derived from which might be more closely
correlated with one or more of the independent variables. These two new measures
were:
, defined as the difference between at the end of the route and at the
beginning of the route. This is a measure of how much bunching arises over
the course of the route.
/10N, where N is the number of stops along a route in one direction. In
words, this is the average increase in per 10 stops. This is a measure of
how bunching increases, normalised for the number of stops in the route.
Chapter 4 - Methodology
28

Both of these were calculated for both directions of each route, and then an average
taken of the two directions.

It was initially intended for a multiple regression to be carried out. A correlation
matrix for the independent variables was duly produced, to uncover any underlying
colinearities. It had been expected that there would be several significant
correlations between the independent variables. Indeed, several compound variables
(for example passengers per route-km) had been constructed with a view to
combining significantly correlated variables. However, the correlation matrix revealed
that nearly all of the independent variables were significantly correlated to nearly all
of the other independent variables! This rendered multiple regression virtually
impossible, and instead regressions between individual independent variables and
the three dependent variables were carried out.

Regressions were carried out examining the relationship between each independent
and each dependent variable for all 27 routes together (i.e. an aggregate analysis).
Linear regressions were the default form. However, scatter plots of against each
independent variable were examined, and other forms of relationship (e.g. inverse,
exponential, logarithmic) were explored where the form of the scatter plot suggested
them. Linear relationships were retained unless a significant improvement was found
using the non-linear model.


4.8 Factor analysis

Principal component analysis with varimax rotation was carried out in PASW
Statistics 18. The variables chosen for the analysis were those which had produced
significant models predicting , i.e. those in Table 5.3. Variable factor weightings with
magnitudes < |0.4| were excluded from the component matrix and the rotated
component matrix for clarity. Variable factor weightings were also sorted by factor
weight for each component. The full output is available in Appendix 3.
29

Chapter 5 Analysis


5.1 Bunching by route

Table 5.1 presents a summary of the analysis of the 30 selected bus routes
according to the four metrics selected in Chapter 4. It should be noted that the
metrics are presented in percentage form. Recall that the bar over each metric in the
table indicates that it is an average over all stops and all 5 days for that particular
route.

Metric H

3
h

.25

Route
Headway
(mins)
Value (%) Rank Value (%) Rank Value (%) Rank Value (%) Rank
18 4 32.16 1 15.59 1 8.87 1 14.56 1
94 5 29.43 2 11.65 2 6.19 2 13.90 2
253 5 27.73 3 10.19 3 5.90 3 13.15 3
25* 5 27.53 4 7.64 8 4.08 8 11.31 6
12* 5 27.21 5 8.20 5 4.35 7 11.14 7
254 5 27.07 6 8.79 4 5.51 4 12.36 4
63 6 26.89 7 8.02 6 4.69 5 11.89 5
279 6 24.67 8 7.77 7 4.61 6 10.33 8
41 5 23.38 9 6.99 9 3.68 9 8.92 9
29* 5 23.11 10 4.84 12 2.45 12 7.83 11
24 5 22.64 11 5.74 10 2.98 11 7.78 12
205 8 21.93 12 3.94 14 2.31 13 8.48 10
171 8 21.18 13 3.53 15 1.85 15 7.56 13
472 6 20.53 14 5.30 11 2.98 10 7.41 14
H37 6 19.93 15 4.05 13 2.11 14 6.31 15
87 6 19.32 16 2.35 18 1.21 20 4.52 19
109 6 19.09 17 2.58 16 1.26 18 4.44 20
147 8 17.52 18 2.42 17 1.38 17 4.78 17
388 10 17.47 19 1.98 20 1.26 19 4.75 18
153 12 16.98 20 1.98 19 1.38 16 5.78 16
341 10 16.71 21 1.87 21 1.08 21 4.05 21
54 12 14.44 22 1.40 22 0.81 22 3.34 22
184 10 14.18 23 1.35 23 0.79 23 3.00 23
333 10 13.55 24 0.56 26 0.29 27 2.12 26
337 12 12.15 25 0.85 24 0.50 24 2.45 24
232 20 11.76 26 0.67 25 0.39 25 2.44 25
487 15 9.66 27 0.24 29 0.14 29 0.73 29
272 15 9.15 28 0.24 30 0.13 30 0.89 28
P13 20 9.07 29 0.39 27 0.38 26 0.91 27
419 15 7.01 30 0.25 28 0.22 28 0.43 30
Table 5.1. Bus routes with their metrics in percentages and ranks, sorted by rank. * indicates that the
route is served by articulated buses.




Chapter 5 Analysis
30

5.1.1 Comparison of rankings by metrics

It can be seen that the metrics agree on the identity and ranking of the three most
bunched routes, the 18, 94 and 253. The rankings of the four metrics for another four
routes (the 41, 54, 184 and 341) are also in total agreement.

The two routes with the highest standard deviation of metric rankings are the 472
and the 153 (both with standard deviations of 2.06). In the case of the 472, the
rankings of B

60
and

B

30
are both particularly high. This may simply be a statistical
anomaly, whereby there happened to be a particularly high number of buses arriving
at just over the cut off points for these metrics (e.g. several buses arriving 59 or 29
seconds after the previous bus). However, the very high number of data (around
65,000 records for this route) would lead one to suspect that an anomaly is unlikely.
An alternative explanation is that instances of less severe bunching are relatively
rarer in the 472 than in other routes, or put another way, bunching is more severe
when it does occur. This might be a reflection of the relative skill of the route
controllers, or perhaps a feature of the route which makes the bunching positive
feedback loop more effective, such as a longer average boarding time on this service
(see Section 2.1). In fact, the possibility of long boarding times being the cause is
ruled out by the fact that boarding times for the 472 are below average see
Appendix 1.

In the case of the 153, it is the rankings of B

30
, and h

0.25
that are the highest. As the
cut-off point for the second of these metrics at the modal headway is around 3
minutes, it is hard to understand why the rankings for these two should be similar,
while that for B

60
which has a cut-off in between the two is of a lower ranking. There
were some anomalies in the last 2 stops in Direction 1 of this route, which might
explain this unexpected result.

The standard deviations of the rankings for the other routes are all fairly small (below
2), suggesting that the metrics are all measuring roughly the same phenomenon,
which is encouraging.






















Chapter 5 Analysis
31

5.1.2 Evolution of the metrics over the 5 sample days

From Figure 5.1 it can be seen that the metrics all display similar behaviour over the
five sample days: an initial rise, followed by a dip during half term (i.e. the 23
rd

February), and finally a further rise. Again, this indicates that the metrics are
measuring similar phenomena. Since the analysis that follows focuses on , it is
encouraging to note that it agrees with more conventional measures of bunching,
while offering more fine-grained analysis due to its continuous nature.


Figure 5.1 Longitudinal progression of metrics
1
.




















1
Note that these are averages of the 30 routes, and not of all of the individual buses.
0%
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16.5%
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7th Feb 15th Feb 23rd Feb 3rd Mar 11th Mar

h0.25
H 60
H 30
Plotted
on
right-
hand
axis
Chapter 5 Analysis
32

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Time of day
5.2 Bunching by time of day

Figure 5.2 shows by time of day, averaged across all routes over all five days.
There are several interesting things to note about this graph. Firstly, there are fairly
clear peaks in the morning and the evening, with the morning peak being split into
two smaller peaks, and the afternoon peak being spread over several hours. The first
morning peak occurs between 07:30 and 07:44 (23.4%), and the second between
09:15 and 09:29 (25.8%). The afternoon peak starts at around 16:00, and lasts until
around 18:14, and reaches a maximum value of 25.5%. This peak echoes the
findings of Strathman et al. (1999), in which extreme bunching is observed in the
evening peak in bus services in Portland, Oregon. It is interesting to speculate about
whether the slight peak around lunchtime might be a result of the route controllers
and/or the bus drivers having a lunch break.

Figure 5.2. by time of day averaged across all five days.

As the next two graphs show, these peaks are not coincident with the peaks in bus
usage (Figure 5.3) and road traffic flows (Figure 5.4). This is slightly unexpected: one
might have predicted that bunching would be at its most extreme during periods of
intense bus use, and very busy road conditions. However, recall Adebisis
predictions about headway variance (Adebisi, 1986). He suggested that headway
variance (which is closely related to bunching) is at its highest at times of abrupt
change in demand. Intuitively, this makes sense. For example, one can imagine that
if a following bus experiences much lower levels of demand than a leading bus, it will
quickly catch up and bunching will occur. Looking closely at Figure 5.3, it can be
seen that the morning peak in bus usage falls almost exactly between the two peaks
in bunching. Thus, there is a peak in bunching in the transition from pre-peak to peak
demand, followed by a second peak in bunching during transition from peak to post-
peak demand. This could be coincidence, but it certainly seems to count as evidence
in favour of Adebisis predictions. The afternoon peak is not quite so well behaved
with respect to bus usage, but the afternoon peak in traffic volumes falls between the
two afternoon sub-peaks, and one can imagine a similar effect on bunching of abrupt
changes in traffic conditions, to that from abrupt changes in demand.
Chapter 5 Analysis
33



Figure 5.3. by time of day with bus usage superimposed. Source: TfL 2007, Chart 3.3.5.


Figure 5.4. by time of day with road traffic volumes superimposed. Source: DfT 2011, Table TRA0307.







As stated in Section 4.2, the third of the five days selected for analysis (23
rd

February 2011) fell in a school half-term. Figures 5.5 and 5.6 show a comparison of
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o
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j
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s
t
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t
o

a
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w
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k
d
a
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h
o
u
r

=

1
0
0

Time of day

Traffic
volumes
Chapter 5 Analysis
34

bunching throughout the day during term, and in half term. The differences between
the two graphs are intriguing.


Figure 5.5. by time of day averaged over the term-time days.


Figure 5.6. by time of day during half term.

Firstly, the second peak in bunching in the morning seems to almost totally
disappear in half term (see 1 above). It may be that without schoolchildren using
the buses, the transition from peak to post-peak is less abrupt. If most schools start
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9

Time of day
0%
5%
10%
15%
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0
5
:
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:
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:
4
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5
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0
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:
3
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:
4
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1
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:
1
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1
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1
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1
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4
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5
9
1
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3
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:
1
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:
4
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3
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2
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1
4
2
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:
4
5
-
2
3
:
5
9

Time of day
1
3
2
1 3 2
Chapter 5 Analysis
35

within around half an hour of each other, then school travel demand might fall very
sharply after a particular cut-off point, causing bunching.

The second difference is a slight decrease in bunching between the hours of around
16:15 and 18:00 in half term (see 2). This fits in reasonably well with what one
would expect: a decrease in demand resulting in a decrease in bunching.

The third difference, in the evening peak (see 3), is rather more perplexing. Why
should a school holiday be associated with an increase in bunching between around
18:15 and 20:00? Possible explanations might be an overabundance of buses on the
route, or perhaps the opposite problem: over compensation by route planners
resulting in insufficient buses to meet demand. Either of these might plausibly result
in bunching.

It is also interesting to consider the difference in by time of day for routes in Inner
London (Figure 5.7) and Outer London (Figure 5.8). Comparing the two graphs, the
first thing to note is that, as one would expect, bunching tends to be more
pronounced in Inner than Outer London.

The second striking difference is that the structure of the Outer London graph is
significantly more pronounced than that of the graph for Inner London: the peaks and
the troughs are more defined. This may reflect the fact that traffic levels are more
variable throughout the day in Outer London compared with Inner London (see TfL,
2010a, Figure 4.1, p. 88). Alternatively, or additionally, it may be the case that
demand levels in Outer London vary more throughout the day than in Inner London,
though it has not been possible to find data to confirm this. The fact that the Outer
London graph has a double peak in the evening, with the first maximum at 16:00
16:14, leads one to conclude that the use of public buses by school children may
play a more significant role in bunching behaviour in Outer London than Inner
London.

One final intriguing difference is that the fall off in in the evening is far more
pronounced in Outer than Inner London. Indeed, begins to rise in Inner London
after a low at 21:15 21:29. This may reflect a reduction in service control, as it is
carried out by fewer staff as the evening progresses
2
, and services become less
regulated. In Outer London, where demand is low, and the feedback mechanism
therefore relatively weak, this may not be a significant problem. However, in Inner
London where demand remains higher into the late evenings, it may be the case that
the fall off in service control causes an increase in as the evening goes on, as the
positive feedback mechanism is less mitigated.


2
This is confirmed by Butler, 2011.
Chapter 5 Analysis
36


Figure 5.7. by time of day for Inner London routes
3
.


Figure 5.8. by time of day for Outer London routes
4
.





3
I.e. routes 205, 388, 153, 29, 63, 12, 171, 24, 94, and 87. (See Figures 4.1 4.5.)
4
I.e. routes 41, 279, 184, 147, 109, 54, 472, 487, H37, 232.
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
0
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9

Time of day
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9

Time of day
Chapter 5 Analysis
37

5.3 Bunching along the route

Plotting against distance downstream for each route in each direction yields some
very interesting graphs, which will be called -curves. Three major groups emerge.
The first (21 out of 60 routes) is the group for which the curve slopes up more or less
continuously. Figures 5.9 and 5.10 are particularly characteristic examples of this
group.


Figure 5.9.


Figure 5.10.

5%
7%
9%
11%
13%
15%
17%
19%
21%
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49 51

Stop number
54 towards Elmers End
5%
7%
9%
11%
13%
15%
17%
19%
21%
23%
25%
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49 51 53 55 57 59 61

Stop number
341 towards Tottenham
Chapter 5 Analysis
38

The second group, with 8 members, is characterised by curves that rise steeply
initially, and then flatten off for the rest of the route. Figures 5.11 and 5.12 show clear
examples of this group.


Figure 5.11.


Figure 5.12.




15%
17%
19%
21%
23%
25%
27%
29%
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39

Stop number
63 towards Kings Cross
10%
12%
14%
16%
18%
20%
22%
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10111213141516171819202122232425262728293031323334353637

Stop number
109 towards Brixton
Chapter 5 Analysis
39

The third group, with 22 members, is in a sense midway between the other two.
Curves of graphs in this group rise steeply initially, and then less steeply as the route
progresses. Figures 5.13 and 5.14 are good illustrations of this group.


Figure 5.13.


Figure 5.14.

9 routes out of 60 do not fit into any of these groups, and can be considered
anomalous.

10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
35%
40%
45%
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49

Stop number
18 towards Euston
12%
14%
16%
18%
20%
22%
24%
26%
28%
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43

Stop number
29 towards Trafalgar Sq.
Chapter 5 Analysis
40

It is interesting to consider what might be the cause of the difference in the bunching
behaviour of London buses, as represented by the differences in their -curves. It
seems that most of the routes in the first group are rather less central than others,
and that the maximum values of tend to be rather small. Those in the second and
third group tend to be more central, and of higher frequency. However, it is not
possible to split the graphs neatly into the groups by frequency or centrality, and
indeed some routes are split into two groups depending on their direction.

What this may suggest is that there is some limit to bunching beyond which it tends
not to exacerbate. Each route seems to have its own characteristic maximum, which
may depend on route factors (frequency, traffic density, etc.) or perhaps on the
attitude of the route controllers, who might be content with low-level bunching, but
take action when it reaches a certain level. Routes in the first grouping of -curves
may simply have not reached their characteristic maximum before the end of the run,
and it is therefore not apparent. What the functional difference between the second
and third groups is less clear. It might perhaps be the techniques employed by
controllers, or simply that in the second group the later part of the route is less
conducive to bunching than the first.

5.3.1 Anomalies

Several of the 60 -curves, while fitting into one of the groups identified above, show
a distinct and rapid fall off in at the end of a route. Figure 5.15 shows an example
of this in Route 171. These anomalies prompted further investigation, and it seems
that this feature of the curves is caused by route controllers curtailing bunched
services at a particular point (between stops 51 and 52 in this example). Turning
back services will result in fewer buses running the final portion of the route, which


Figure 5.15.

must result in longer mean headways, and therefore lower values of . Figure 5.16,
which shows Figure 5.15 in addition to a plot of observed buses at each stop,
confirms this. Note that there is a drop in the number of buses observed at the
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
35%
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49 51 53 55

Stop number
171 towards Catford
Chapter 5 Analysis
41

beginning of the run, as curtailment is also in operation in the other direction of the
171 the -curve in the other direction also shows the characteristic fall at the end of
the route. This feature was observed in around a quarter of the 60 -curves, perhaps
a surprisingly small proportion, given the supposed prevalence of curtailment as a
service control strategy.


Figure 5.16.


























90
95
100
105
110
115
120
125
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
35%
1 4 7 10 13 16 19 22 25 28 31 34 37 40 43 46 49 52 55
D
a
i
l
y

n
u
m
b
e
r

o
f

o
b
s
e
r
v
e
d

b
u
s
e
s

Stop number
171 towards Catford

Observed
buses
Chapter 5 Analysis
42

As has already been mentioned, 9 of the 60 -curves do not fit into the groups
defined above. All of these, with the exception of the 205 towards Bow, are low-
frequency routes, i.e. have modal headways of 12 minutes or more. This leads one
to the conclusion that bunching is most organised and predictable in high-frequency
routes. Some of these anomalous curves have interesting features, and will be
discussed.

It can be seen from Figure 5.17 that the -curves of the 419 in either direction both
display a spike at the same stop, number 17 in one direction, and number 3 in the
other. This may simply be an anomaly in the data collection. It may also be related to
the fact that in each case, the stop in question immediately precedes a hail and ride
section. Whether this hail and ride section is affecting the behaviour of drivers or of
the data acquisition is not clear.



Figure 5.17.
0%
2%
4%
6%
8%
10%
12%
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Stop number
419 towards Hammersmith
0%
2%
4%
6%
8%
10%
12%
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Stop number
419 towards Richmond
Chapter 5 Analysis
43

Figure 5.18 shows a sharp discontinuity in bunching in the P13 towards Streatham,
between stops 6 and 8. Unlike the previous example, this feature is not mirrored in
the opposite direction. Stop 7 in this direction is Peckham Bus Station, so there may
be an issue with the bus station in this direction. This could be a design issue
perhaps a problem over accessing a stand. Alternatively, if this is a driver change-
over point, this could be an operational issue. This example shows the potential of
using -curves to analyse how well routes are functioning.


Figure 5.18.

























0%
2%
4%
6%
8%
10%
12%
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47

Stop number
P13 towards Streatham
Chapter 5 Analysis
44

While the -curves shown in Figures 5.17 and 5.18 might, if it were not for their
unusual features, be classified into one of the three groups, 4 of the curves defy
grouping altogether. Figure 5.19 show the -curves for two low-frequency routes. It
might be possible to interpret these curves, but the simplest explanation seems to be
that the bunching behaviour along these routes is chaotic. The fact that bunching
does not become progressively more severe on these routes would appear to
confirm Hills prediction (Hill, 2003) that low frequency buses would have to serve
hundreds of stops before bunching due to the positive feedback effect would be
observed (assuming that the feedback mechanism is responsible for keeping the
gradient of the -curves positive and relatively steep see discussion and
simulations below).



Figure 5.19.

6%
7%
8%
9%
10%
11%
12%
13%
14%
15%
16%
1 3 5 7 9 1113151719212325272931333537394143454749515355

Stop number
232 towards Neasden
5%
6%
7%
8%
9%
10%
11%
12%
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37

Stop number
487 towards Willesden
Chapter 5 Analysis
45

Finally, Figure 5.20 shows two curves which should perhaps have their own group.
These two curves rise towards the centre, and fall off towards the end particularly
clearly in the case of the 337 towards Richmond. To be clear, this corresponds to
buses, on average, evening themselves out as they move from the middle to the end
of their routes. Given the propensity of buses to bunch, as detailed in Section 2.1,
the most likely explanation of this seems to be that controllers of these two routes
take action to mitigate bunching as it happens towards the centre of the route, and
are so successful in doing so that it gradually eases towards the end. It may be that
because these routes are low-frequency, it is more straightforward for controllers to
prevent bunching, than for those controlling busier routes.



Figure 5.20.


8%
9%
10%
11%
12%
13%
14%
15%
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33

Stop number
337 towards Richmond
6.0%
6.5%
7.0%
7.5%
8.0%
8.5%
9.0%
9.5%
10.0%
10.5%
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45

Stop number
P13 towards New Cross
Chapter 5 Analysis
46

5.3.2 Comparison with results/predictions of other studies

The general rising form of the non-anomalous -curves would seem to be at odds
with one of the main findings of Peng et al. (2008), viz. that bunching did not
propagate down the route of the bus service in that study. With a headway of 7
minutes, one would have expected that the route in that study might have had a -
curve in one of the three main groups as detailed above. There may be some feature
of North American bus routes (e.g. wider roads) that makes them less likely to
display bunching behaviour. However, the different methodologies used in this
dissertation, and the Peng et al. study mean that it is difficult to compare results
directly. It would be interesting to see what form the -curve of the Route 20 in
Chicago would take.

Chapter 2 also detailed a simulation study by Abkowitz et al. (1986) that produced a
model predicting bunching behaviour downstream. The curve produced was
depicted in Figure 2.2, reproduced here for convenience. Despite the fact that the
dependent variable is the headway variance (called variation here) as opposed to ,
the left hand curve above bears a striking resemblance to the -curves derived in
this dissertation, particularly those in the third group. This lends credence to as a
metric, and also seems to substantiate the theoretical work of Abkowitz et al..

Figure 5.21. Source: Abkowitz et al., 1986.

Finally, the work of Adebisi (1986) was also cited in Chapter 2. His paper provides a
simple numerical example of his model, and the figures provided were used to plot
the graph in Figure 5.22. Again, the measure being used is different, this time the
coefficient of variation of the headway
5
. Even so, the resemblance of the curve
produced to the -curves is again remarkable. This time, it is most similar to the first
group of curves, but the steep initial incline followed by a shallower gradient is
common to the majority of the curves.


5
i.e. the standard deviation of the headway divided by the mean headway.
Chapter 5 Analysis
47


Figure 5.22.

5.3.3 Discussion

The fact that the -curves shown above almost always have a positive gradient does
seem to constitute evidence that the positive feedback mechanism is at play in
Londons bus system. However, it is not in itself conclusive. Consider a bus route on
which buses are despatched with perfectly regular headways. In any system, there
will be some variability in running time across any stage in the journey (e.g. due to a
signalised junction). This variability will cause the perfectly spaced vehicles to
become less regular, and an increase in will occur. Indeed, it can be seen that
even in a system where buses are not dispatched at perfectly regular intervals, some
increase in may occur as buses progress down the route, simply from a variation in
journey time across any given stage. Thus, the forms of the -curves shown above
could be in evidence even in a system in which there is no positive feedback
mechanism in operation. This consideration was the motivation behind carrying out
simulations in which there is no positive feedback mechanism. This allows a
comparison of reality with a situation without positive feedback, in order that
comment is possible on Aim 4 of this dissertation.

Note that on an infinitely long route in which feedback is at play, all the buses would
eventually end up bunched together (if there were no controllers). The headways
would all be less than 30 seconds, and would tend to 100%. Without feedback, the
buses would eventually sort themselves according to speed and spread out: would
then fall to zero. However, the time scales involved before would reach these limits
are likely to be far longer than the 50 stop scenarios in these simulations would allow
for and indeed showed no sign of beginning to fall off in any of the simulations
run.

Simulations were run for four different mean headways of bus service: 5 minute, 8
minute, 12 minute and 20 minute (see Section 4.6). The forms of the -curves in the
simulations were similar to those observed in reality, particularly in the first group of
steadily rising curves. Figure 5.23 shows an example of a -curve for a simulation of
a 5 minute headway service.

0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.8
0.9
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
H
e
a
d
w
a
y
'
s

c
o
e
f
f
i
c
i
e
n
t

o
f

v
a
r
i
a
t
i
o
n
Stop number
Chapter 5 Analysis
48


Figure 5.23. Simulation of a service with a 5 minute headway.

The simulations of services with longer headways yielded similar results, with the
gradient of the -curves becoming shallower as the headway increases: see Figure
5.24. At 20 minute headways, the -curves of the simulations become chaotic in
nature, with no discernable form.


Figure 5.24. Simulations of services with different headways.

This similarity of form between simulation and reality might call into question whether
the positive feedback mechanism is indeed an important explanatory factor of
bunching in London buses. However, the scale of the simulated -curves is rather
different to that of the real -curves. Figure 5.25 shows the curve from Figure 5.23
on the same pair of axes as that of a typical real 5 minute headway service. It can be
seen that although the two curves roughly share the initial value of , they diverge as
the route progresses. This would seem to indicate that the positive feedback
mechanism does indeed have a significant impact on the development of bunching
down the route of a bus service. However, the limitations of the simulation should be
borne in mind (see Section 4.6), so this result should be treated with some caution.
Further, more realistic simulations are required to provide more evidence that the
real -curves are steeper in gradient than would be the case without the positive
feedback mechanism.

12%
13%
14%
15%
16%
17%
18%
19%
20%
21%
22%
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49

Stop number
7%
9%
11%
13%
15%
17%
19%
21%
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49

Stop number
5 mins 8 mins 12 mins 20 mins
Chapter 5 Analysis
49



Figure 5.25. Comparison of simulated 5 minute headway service with an equivalent real service the 24
towards Hampstead.

The approximately linear form of these simulated -curves is rather different from the
form of the headway variance curves derived by Abkowitz et al. (1986), as shown in
Figure 5.21. The Monte Carlo techniques used by this team were rather more
sophisticated than the spreadsheet techniques in this dissertation, using non-normal
probability distribution functions for stage speeds. It is not clear from the paper
whether or not the positive feedback mechanism forms part of their model. If it does,
it may be the case that it is the bunching mechanism which causes the steeper
increase in bunching at the beginning of the route, becoming less important further
downstream as bunching becomes more severe. This would make intuitive sense. It
should be noted that the Abkowitz et al. study is concerned with headway variance,
which is of course not identical to , though the two measures are closely related.


5.4 Regression analysis

In order to carry out the regression analysis, values for the independent variables to
be used were derived; these are shown in Appendix 1. Before moving on to the
analysis of these variables, there are two values that are interesting in themselves.

The average speed (averaged over the 30 routes, not over all of the buses) was
found to be around 14.3 km/h or 8.9 mph. This is roughly two to three times walking
speed. TfL
6
estimates that average traffic speed in Central London is around 14
km/h, and in Inner London around 20 km/h. Average cycling speeds in London are
considered by TfL
7
to be 15 km/h. On all these comparisons, the bus seems to be
performing well.

Average stop dwell times were found to be around 10 seconds (again, averaged
over the 30 routes). As mentioned in Section 4.1, this value could be used for in
the calculation of . It is unlikely that taking as 10 rather than 30 would have a
significant impact on any of the results under discussion.


6
TfL (2010a) p. 88.
7
TfL (2010b) p. 14.
12%
14%
16%
18%
20%
22%
24%
26%
28%
30%
32%
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37

Stop number
24 Simulation
Chapter 5 Analysis
50

5.4.1 Correlations between the intended independent variables

As detailed in Section 4.5.3, it was not possible to carry out a multiple regression as
has originally been intended, because of the large number of colinearities among the
independent variables. However, the correlation matrix (shown in Appendix 2) is in
itself worth discussing, as it throws up some interesting relationships.

As one would expect, route length is positively correlated with mean journey
time (.787
**
)
8
and the standard deviation of the journey time (.743
**
). However,
there is no significant correlation between route length and the coefficient of
variation of the headway, which is a little surprising.
The percentage of route in bus lanes is negatively correlated with the distance
between stops (-.473
*
). This is what one would expect, as the former would
increase with centrality of route, and the latter decrease. Bus lane percentage
is further correlated with almost all of the other variables, generally indicating
that it is a measure of centrality of the route (e.g. passenger numbers (.694
**
),
number of traffic signals (.594
**
), etc.). Interestingly, the bus lane percentage
is negatively correlated with mean speed (-.630
**
), which might lead one to
conclude that bus lanes slow buses down! However, one must conclude that
again, the underlying variable of centrality is at play. An encouraging result for
transport planners is that bus lane percentage is negatively correlated with the
coefficient of variation of journey time (-.535
**
). This would seem to indicate
that the introduction bus lanes can lead to reductions in journey time
variability, an especially impressive result given the centrality factor discussed
above. This confirms the outcomes of the simulations in Turnquist, 1981 see
Section 2.1.
Average stop distance is negatively correlated with daily passenger numbers
(-.443
*
) and daily passenger numbers per route-km (-.558
**
), which is what
one would hope for from a route planning perspective. It is also positively
correlated with mean speed (.623
**
), again an expected result. A more
unexpected result is that average stop distance is negatively correlated with
stop dwell time (-.506
**
): the longer the distance between stops, the shorter
the average stop time. One might have expected that the longer the distance
between stops, the more time there is for passengers to build up, and hence a
positive correlation would result. However, route planners will take density of
demand into account, and plan longer stop spacings on routes with lower
demand. On reflection therefore, this relationship is not so surprising.
Number of traffic signals, like bus lane percentage, seems to be a measure of
centrality of route, with a large number of highly significant correlations. One
surprising result is that number of traffic signals is not significantly correlated
with coefficient of variation of headway. One would have expected that there
would be a fairly strong positive correlation between the two. This may
indicate that TfLs signal priority system is functioning well (see Section 3.2).
Daily passenger numbers is, as one would hope, positively correlated with
scheduled passenger place-km (.909
**
) and negatively correlated with modal
headway (-.779
**
).
Modal headway is positively correlated with the coefficient of variation of
journey time (.465
*
). This means that as the headway between buses
increases, run times become more variable. This may be because there is
more time for passengers to build up at stops when longer headways are

8
These relationships are presented with the Pearson correlation coefficient, followed by one or two
asterisks. Two asterisks after a relationship are used to denote a relationship significant to the 1%
level, one asterisk to denote significance to the 5% level.
Chapter 5 Analysis
51

used. It might also indicate that there is a stabilising effect on buses due to
other buses being close by (see Section 5.4.2)
A rather unexpected correlation is that the coefficient of variation of journey
time is negatively correlated with average stop dwell time (-.418
*
). It seems
difficult to see a causal link here, so perhaps there is some underlying cause
(e.g. bus lane percentage). However, the relationship does seem to
undermine somewhat the theoretical case for bunching (see Section 2.1).
An interesting relationship given the Mayors current stance on articulated
buses, is that average stop time per passenger is negatively correlated with
the articulated dummy variable (-.541
**
). Running a regression test on this
basis indicates that articulated buses save around 1.9 seconds per passenger
in boarding times. However, it should be noted that the dwell time per
passenger figure is based on passenger volumes, and it should be held in
mind that passenger volumes for articulated bus routes were crude
approximations (see Section 4.5.1). This figure, therefore, should be treated
with circumspection.

5.4.2 Linear regression of individual independent variables

Dependent variable

Independent variable
/10N
Route length No No No
Bus lane percentage 0.327** 0.115* No
Total traffic signals 0.403** 0.125* No
Mean stop distance 0.149* No No
Passenger numbers 0.704** 0.541** 0.117*
Passengers per route-km 0.707** 0.486** 0.213**
Scheduled bus-km 0.729** 0.618** 0.121*
Modal headway 0.745** 0.483** 0.377**
Mean journey time 0.125* No No
Standard deviation of JT No No No
Coeff. of variation of JT 0.164* No No
Mean speed 0.226** No No
Average stop dwell time 0.376** 0.305** No
Av. dwell time per passenger No No No
K 0.729** 0.637** 0.303**
Articulated No No No
Operators:
Arriva No No No
GAG No No No
Stagecoach No No No
RATP No No No
Table 5.2.

As stated in Section 4.5.3, two further measures, and /10N were used as
dependent variables in the regression analyses. Table 5.2 summarises the results of
these linear regression analyses, with No indicating that the independent variable
does not predict the dependent variable with significance, * indicating that the
model predicts the independent variable with 5% significance, and ** indicating that
the model is successful at the 1% level. The number before the asterisks gives the
adjusted R
2
value for the model, a measure of its predictive power. It can be seen
Chapter 5 Analysis
52

that is the most successful dependent variable, i.e. has the most significant
models predicting it from the various independent variables. With this in mind, and
also the fact that to discuss all 20 independent variables with respect to each of the 3
dependent variables would be impractical, only the results for will be discussed.

Firstly considering the non-significant relationships:
Route length. It is somewhat surprising that this should not be significantly
correlated with . One might have expected that a long route would provide
more opportunity for bunching to occur. However, this may be because less
central routes tend to be longer than more central routes (route length is very
close to being significantly related to mean speed: Pearson correlation
coefficient = .364, significance = .062), and less central routes have lower
values of than more central ones.
Standard deviation of journey time. It is also surprising that the standard
deviation of the journey time is not significantly correlated to bunching, given
that mean journey time is (although the relationship is a fairly weak one see
Table 5.3).
Average dwell time per passenger. This is arguably the most surprising
result of these regressions. This variable had a p value of 0.987, so was
almost perfectly uncorrelated with ! Note that the inverse of dwell time per
passenger, boarding rate, was also not significantly correlated. Given the
emphasis placed on boarding rate by the literature, this seemed highly likely
to be significant but was not. This may indicate that the positive feedback
mechanism is not at play in the London bus system (but see K below).
Articulated. Given that only 3 members of the sample were articulated buses,
it is not surprising that this variable did not produce a significant result. It
would be interesting to carry out further study in which the sample is chosen
to include all remaining articulated routes, in order to compare their
performance with double-deckers. Alternatively, one could carry out a
longitudinal study to examine the change in on the conversion of an
articulated service to a double-decker service.
Operators. Again, given the small number of data used, it is not surprising
that these dichotomous variables did not produce significant results. If one
carried out a study using all of the routes in London, it might be possible to
perceive a difference in performance, which would be interesting from the
point of view of service quality analysis. Another possibility would be to group
the routes by the control centres that regulate them, to see whether this has a
significant impact on bunching.

Table 5.3 summarises the relevant statistics for the statistically significant linear
regression models with respect to , ranking them according to the adjusted R
2
value. Note that this value indicates what proportion of the variation in the dependent
variable is predicted by the variation in the independent variable. For example, a
value of 0.547 for the Adjusted R
2
would imply that the independent variable in
question predicts 55% of the variation of the dependent variable.







Chapter 5 Analysis
53

Statistic

Independent variable
Adjusted R
2
B (coefficient) C (constant) p
Modal headway (mins) 0.745 - 1.292 30.807 < 0.001
Scheduled bus-km (1000s) 0.729 3.452 6.456 < 0.001
K 0.729 552.060 9.046 < 0.001
Passengers per route-km 0.707 0.011 9.819 < 0.001
Passenger numbers (1000s) 0.704 0.373 10.653 < 0.001
Total traffic signals 0.403 0.202 10.863 < 0.001
Average stop dwell time (s) 0.376 1.481 6.004 < 0.001
Bus lane percentage 0.327 0.343 12.522 0.001
Mean speed (km/h) 0.226 - 1.473 40.046 0.007
Coeff. of variation of JT 0.164 - 118.693 38.511 0.021
Mean stop distance (m) 0.149 - 0.070 41.323 0.026
Mean journey time (mins) 0.125 0.199 8.134 0.039
Table 5.3.

Taking the independent variables one by one:
Modal headway. This is the most successful predictor of , predicting 75% of
the variation. Given the definition of , this is not surprising: a delay (e.g. due
to the red phase of a traffic signal) on a route with a short headway will cause
more of an increase in than an equivalent delay on a less frequent route. In
a sense therefore, this result is almost tautological. The value of B implies that
increasing the headway by one minute is predicted to result in a reduction in
of around 1.3% on average.
Scheduled bus-km. Given the close relationship between this and the modal
headway, it is no surprise that it too is a good predictor of . This model
predicts around 73% of the variation in , and the coefficient indicates that an
increase of 1000 daily bus-km would result in a 3.5% increase in .
K. The fact that K is such a good predictor of bunching, accounting for 73% of
the variation in , is evidence in favour of the theoretical analyses presented
in 2.1 that cited its importance. The high predictive power of K seems to
indicate that a positive feedback effect may indeed be at play in the London
Bus network. However, it should be observed that K is also closely related to
the modal headway (r = - 0.821), so this result should be treated with some
caution. This is particularly so given the lack of predictive power of the
average dwell time per passenger. It should be noted that the maximum value
of K is 0.047 (for Route 18), and this is a relatively small value one might not
therefore expect the effects of the positive feedback effect to be large.
Passengers per route-km. This is a measure of density of demand along the
route, and as one would expect, it is a good predictor of bunching, predicting
71% of the variation in . It should be noted that this variable is also very
closely correlated to modal headway (r = - 0.849), so once again it is difficult
to say how much of the predictive power can be ascribed to this variable itself.
The model predicts that a daily increase of 100 passengers per route-km
would result in a 1.1% increase in .
Passenger numbers. Comments as with the previous variable. The model
predicts that an increase of 1000 daily passengers would result in a 0.4%
increase in .
Total traffic signals. This is, as expected, a good predictor of bunching,
accounting for 40% of the variation in . The model is, like all of the above,
highly significant (p < 0.001). The prediction is that, on average, adding an
extra set of traffic lights would lead to a 0.2% increase in bunching.
Chapter 5 Analysis
54

Bus lane percentage. This is a somewhat bizarre result: adding bus lanes
would seem to increase bunching! However, this is presumably because of
the strong correlation between bus lane percentage and other highly
predictive variables such as modal frequency and number of traffic signals.
Mean speed. This is shown to have some predictive power of bunching.
Again, one wonders how much of this is causal, and how much the result of
mean speed acting as a proxy for other factors. The model predicts that an
increase of speed of 1 km/h would result in a decrease in of 1.5%.
Coefficient of variation of journey time. This is another rather perplexing
result: decreasing bunching is associated with increasing journey time
variability. Perhaps the causal arrow is pointing the other way here. It may be
that bunching has some kind of stabilising effect on bus runs (see Section
5.4.1, bullet point concerning modal headway and coefficient of variation of
journey time). The mechanism for this could be as follows. Bus A experiences
a delay, and becomes late. If the following bus, Bus B, is relatively close
behind, i.e. the two are somewhat bunched, Bus B will eventually catch up
Bus A and overtake. Once this has happened, Bus B will be able to pick up
some of the excess passengers along the route, and Bus A will be less
delayed than it would have been had it not been overtaken. Thus, having Bus
B running close by could have a stabilising effect on Bus As journey times. Of
course this is just speculation, and there could be no causality between these
variables, with an underlying cause being responsible for their correlation.
Mean stop distance. This relatively weak relationship is likely to be based on
the correlation between mean stop distance and passenger volumes.
Mean journey time. As mean journey time is not strongly related to the
variables near the top of Table 5.3, this relationship would seem to reflect a
different effect from that underlying modal frequency. However, the
relationship is not extremely strong, with p = 0.039. The model predicts that
bunching increases with journey time, with a 5 minute increase in journey time
responsible for a 1% increase in . It is interesting that there should be a
relationship between and mean journey time, but not and route length.

All of the above models are linear. There is one obvious theoretical limitation of
linear models predicting a variable such as , and that is that there is a maximum
possible value of (100%) which will at some point be violated by a straight line. The
models should, therefore, be treated with some caution, and are likely to become
less accurate as their independent variables increase in magnitude.

On the basis of scatter plots of each variable against , it was not thought worthwhile
to run non-linear regressions on many of the variables, with two exceptions. Modal
headway displayed a clear non-linear tendency. Several different models were tried,
but the most successful was the following exponential model:
= 4u.S u.91S
H
,
where H is the modal headway. This model has an R
2
value of 0.838, the most
successful of all the models. Figure 5.26 shows a scatter plot of versus modal
headway, with the exponential model shown as a solid line: the fit is remarkably
good. An exponential model is sensible: one would not expect that adding a minute
to the headway at a headway of 20 minutes would have the same bunching
reduction effect that adding a minute would have at a headway of 5 minutes (for
example).

Chapter 5 Analysis
55


Figure 5.26.

Daily passenger numbers too, displayed a tendency which appeared logarithmic. A
logarithmic analysis produced a model with a better predictive ability than the linear
model, with R
2
= 0.765. The model is given by:
= 7.u7 lnN 49.Su,
where N is the total daily passenger numbers. Figure 5.27 shows this model with the
scatter plot of passenger numbers against . The three articulated routes are
labelled. From this evidence it does not appear that the crude scaling up of
passenger numbers on these routes was too problematic (see Section 4.5.1). The
logarithmic model is, once again, unsurprising. One would expect that adding
passengers at low volumes would have a larger effect on bunching than doing so at
high volumes hence the levelling off curve.


Figure 5.27.
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
35%
40%
45%
0 5 10 15 20

Modal headway (mins)


12
25
29
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
35%

Passenger numbers
(values omitted for reasons of commercial sensitivity)
Chapter 5 Analysis
56

5.5 Factor analysis

Factor analysis was carried out in an attempt to discern underlying factors that might
be at play (see Appendix 3). The Keiser-Meyer-Olkin measure of sampling adequacy
was 0.591 less than desirable, but within acceptable limits. Bartletts test of
sphericity was significant (0.000). The determinant of the correlation matrix was 2.84
x 10
-8
, indicating that the factors are orthogonal to a good approximation. Three
orthogonal (i.e. uncorrelated) factors were derived with eigenvalues greater than 1.
After rotation, the first factor explained 39% of the variance, the second 21%, and
the third 20%. As a whole, therefore, the three factors explained about 80% of the
variance of .

Table 5.4 shows the rotated component matrix from the analysis. The primary
variables for each factor have been circled in red. The first component seems to
index density of demand. Once again, it is surprising to see the coefficient of
variation of journey time with a negative sign, as one would expect that as
centrality/density of demand increase, journey time variability would also.
Interestingly, K has the highest factor weight for this component. The second
component seems to index the centrality of route, being negatively dependent on
mean speed and stop distance, and positively dependent on bus lane percentage.
The third component seems to approximate a temporal route factor.

Rotated Component Matrix
a

Variable
Component
1 2 3
K .868
Modal headway -.831
Daily passengers per
route-km
.796 .420
Total daily scheduled
bus-km
.777 .573
Total daily passenger
numbers
.767 .521
Coefficient of variation of
journey times
-.716
Average stop dwell time .659 .413
Mean speed -.912
Average distance
between stops
-.778
Percentage of route in
bus lanes
.546 .578
Mean journey time .937
Total traffic signals on
route
.424 .742
Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis.
Rotation Method: Varimax with Kaiser Normalization.
a. Rotation converged in 5 iterations.

Table 5.4.

Chapter 5 Analysis
57

The factor analysis therefore seems to be suggesting that three underlying factors
are at play:
1. Density of demand
2. Centrality of route
3. A route time factor, dependent on the journey time and number of traffic lights.


5.6 Prediction of for the hold out samples

The most successful model derived above was the exponential model using the
single independent variable of modal headway. It is a little disappointing that all of
the above analysis should result in such a simple predictive model using only one
independent variable, but this does not alter the fact that this model has the most
predictive power. Table 5.5 shows the values of predicted by the model, compared
with their actual values.



Route
Predicted
value of
Actual value
of
Percentage
error
41 25.57 23.38 8.55%
63 23.34 26.89 -15.20%
341 16.22 16.71 -3.03%
Table 5.5.

The model seems to be functioning well, within reasonable margins of error around
9% on average. Figure 5.28 shows the scatter plot of modal headway against , this
time with the three hold out plots included in red. It can be seen that they fit into the
pattern well. Their inclusion in the derivation of the model would have had little
impact on the calibration of the model.


Figure 5.28.
41
63
341
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
35%
40%
45%
0 5 10 15 20 25

Modal headway (mins)


58

Chapter 6 Conclusion


6.1 Summary of results

The results of the analysis will be summarised in this Section, with respect to the
Aims established in Section 1.2.


Aim 1. To produce a satisfactory metric with which to measure bunching.

Several metrics were considered, but the favoured one was , defined as
= 1
E o
E
s
o
,
where H is the headway, H
s
is the scheduled headway, and is the cut-off point at
which buses are considered 100% bunched - set at 30 seconds in this dissertation.
The main advantage of over the other metrics considered is that it is continuous in
nature, taking any value from 0 to 1, whereas some other metrics were dichotomous.
The continuous nature of allows for more fine-grained analysis, while retaining the
features one would intuitively wish for in a bunching metric.
































Chapter 6 - Conclusion
59

Aim 2. To use iBus data to establish the severity of bunching on the routes being
studied, according to the metric derived for Aim 1.

These results were presented in Table 5.1, reproduced here as Table 6.1.

Metric H

3
h

.25

Route
Headway
(mins)
Value (%) Rank Value (%) Rank Value (%) Rank Value (%) Rank
18 4 32.16 1 15.59 1 8.87 1 14.56 1
94 5 29.43 2 11.65 2 6.19 2 13.90 2
253 5 27.73 3 10.19 3 5.90 3 13.15 3
25* 5 27.53 4 7.64 8 4.08 8 11.31 6
12* 5 27.21 5 8.20 5 4.35 7 11.14 7
254 5 27.07 6 8.79 4 5.51 4 12.36 4
63 6 26.89 7 8.02 6 4.69 5 11.89 5
279 6 24.67 8 7.77 7 4.61 6 10.33 8
41 5 23.38 9 6.99 9 3.68 9 8.92 9
29* 5 23.11 10 4.84 12 2.45 12 7.83 11
24 5 22.64 11 5.74 10 2.98 11 7.78 12
205 8 21.93 12 3.94 14 2.31 13 8.48 10
171 8 21.18 13 3.53 15 1.85 15 7.56 13
472 6 20.53 14 5.30 11 2.98 10 7.41 14
H37 6 19.93 15 4.05 13 2.11 14 6.31 15
87 6 19.32 16 2.35 18 1.21 20 4.52 19
109 6 19.09 17 2.58 16 1.26 18 4.44 20
147 8 17.52 18 2.42 17 1.38 17 4.78 17
388 10 17.47 19 1.98 20 1.26 19 4.75 18
153 12 16.98 20 1.98 19 1.38 16 5.78 16
341 10 16.71 21 1.87 21 1.08 21 4.05 21
54 12 14.44 22 1.40 22 0.81 22 3.34 22
184 10 14.18 23 1.35 23 0.79 23 3.00 23
333 10 13.55 24 0.56 26 0.29 27 2.12 26
337 12 12.15 25 0.85 24 0.50 24 2.45 24
232 20 11.76 26 0.67 25 0.39 25 2.44 25
487 15 9.66 27 0.24 29 0.14 29 0.73 29
272 15 9.15 28 0.24 30 0.13 30 0.89 28
P13 20 9.07 29 0.39 27 0.38 26 0.91 27
419 15 7.01 30 0.25 28 0.22 28 0.43 30
Table 6.1. Bus routes with their metrics in percentages and ranks, sorted by rank. * indicates that the
route is served by articulated buses.











Chapter 6 - Conclusion
60

Aim 3. To use the metric to investigate how bunching varies with time of day, and
how it develops down a route.

Figure 5.3 showed the value of by time of day, with bus usage superimposed, and
is reproduced here for convenience as Figure 6.1. This graph showed how the peaks
in lag peaks in bus usage by around an hour. A similar effect was observed with
respect to traffic volumes (see Figure 5.4). This time-lag may be explained by
Adebisi (1986). He suggested that buses might be expected to bunch together at
times of abrupt demand change, for example a following bus experiencing lower
levels of demand than a leading bus. Alternatively it may be that the peak in
bunching is a delayed reaction from the peak in demand.


Figure 6.1. by time of day with bus usage superimposed. Source: TfL 2007, Chart 3.3.5.

The form taken by the graph of by time of day on the day in half term (see Figures
5.5 and 5.6) suggested that the extensive use of London buses by school children
may be having a significant impact on bunching, particularly in the morning peak.
Comparison of Figures 5.7 and 5.8 suggested that the effect of school travel on
bunching may be more pronounced in Outer London.

Several curves of by stop number (called -curves) were presented (See Figures
5.9 to 5.20). Although these showed several different characteristics, the majority of
curves 51 out of 60 belonged to one of three major groups, represented by the
three examples in Figures 6.2 to 6.4. In the first group, increased steadily
throughout the route. In the second group, an initially fast increase was followed by a
marked levelling off of the curve. In the third group, the curve levelled off more
gradually, apparently approaching an asymptote. It was not clear what caused these
differences in form of the -curves, with some curves representing the two directions
of one route belonging to different groups. It may be that the behaviour of route
controllers is important, or perhaps the physical characteristics of routes, such as
road conditions. The apparent limit on the value of (assuming there is a limit for the
first group, which has not been reached by the end of the route) seemed likely to be
a result of controllers breaking up bunched pairs of buses.

0
100
200
300
400
500
600
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
0
5
:
0
0
-
0
5
:
1
4
0
6
:
0
0
-
0
6
:
1
4
0
7
:
0
0
-
0
7
:
1
4
0
8
:
0
0
-
0
8
:
1
4
0
9
:
0
0
-
0
9
:
1
4
1
0
:
0
0
-
1
0
:
1
4
1
1
:
0
0
-
1
1
:
1
4
1
2
:
0
0
-
1
2
:
1
4
1
3
:
0
0
-
1
3
:
1
4
1
4
:
0
0
-
1
4
:
1
4
1
5
:
0
0
-
1
5
:
1
4
1
6
:
0
0
-
1
6
:
1
4
1
7
:
0
0
-
1
7
:
1
4
1
8
:
0
0
-
1
8
:
1
4
1
9
:
0
0
-
1
9
:
1
4
2
0
:
0
0
-
2
0
:
1
4
2
1
:
0
0
-
2
1
:
1
4
2
2
:
0
0
-
2
2
:
1
4
2
3
:
0
0
-
2
3
:
1
4
B
u
s

u
s
a
g
e

i
n

t
h
o
u
s
a
n
d
s

o
f

b
u
s

j
o
u
r
n
e
y

s
t
a
g
e
s

Time of day

Bus usage
Chapter 6 - Conclusion
61


Figure 6.2. Example of the first group of -curves.


Figure 6.3. Example of the second group of -curves.


Figure 6.4. Example of the third group of -curves.
5%
7%
9%
11%
13%
15%
17%
19%
21%
1 3 5 7 9 111315171921232527293133353739414345474951

Stop number
54 towards Elmers End
15%
17%
19%
21%
23%
25%
27%
29%
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39

Stop number
63 towards Kings Cross
10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
35%
40%
45%
1 3 5 7 9 1113151719212325272931333537394143454749

Stop number
18 towards Euston
Chapter 6 - Conclusion
62


Some -curves displayed chaotic behaviour, which seemed to render them
impossible to analyse. This may indicate that the positive feedback mechanism is not
at play on these routes. Since all of these routes were low demand, low frequency
routes, this was in apparent harmony with the theoretical analyses predicting that the
feedback mechanism increases in magnitude with demand.

It was postulated that more detailed analysis of individual -curves might lead to
helpful insights into route performance. An example of this was given in Section
5.3.1, in which analysis of the P13 towards Streatham revealed a sharp increase in
in the vicinity of Peckham Bus Station. This may reflect underlying operational issues
at this busy interchange point. Further analysis of the curves of other routes could
provide similar insights.


Aim 4. To ascertain whether bunching occurs because of the positive feedback
effect discussed in Section 1.1, or whether it is simply a result of natural variation in
bus speeds.

There were three pieces of evidence that suggested that the positive feedback loop
is indeed an important factor in bunching behaviour in London buses. Firstly, the -
curves produced were far steeper than it appeared would be the case without
feedback, as evidenced by the results of the simulations carried out in this
dissertation. Figure 5.25, reproduced here for convenience as Figure 6.5, showed
the difference between a typical real -curve, and that for a simulation without the
positive feedback effect. As could be seen, the real -curve is significantly steeper
than the simulated one. This may count as evidence that the positive feedback effect
causes bunching to develop at increased rates as buses move down their routes.
However, it should be noted that there were differences between the model and
reality other than simply the presence or absence of the feedback effect. The
weaknesses of the simulations may be significant, and were presented in Section
4.6.


Figure 6.5. Comparison of simulated 5 minute headway service with an equivalent real service the 24
towards Hampstead.

The second piece of evidence that indicated that the positive feedback effect may be
exacerbating bunching was the fact that the parameter K (defined as the ratio of
12%
14%
16%
18%
20%
22%
24%
26%
28%
30%
32%
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37

Stop number
24 Simulation
Chapter 6 - Conclusion
63

passenger arrival rate to passenger boarding rate) was a highly significant predictor
of . In various theoretical studies, K was considered to be the crucial factor in
determining the magnitude of the feedback effect. The fact that K was closely
correlated with , such that buses with high values of K tended to have high values
of , therefore seemed to indicate that the positive feedback effect is an important
factor in bunching behaviour. However, it should be noted that there was a close
relationship between K and other predictive variables such as modal headway, so
the predictive power of K could in part be due to this. The factor analysis grouped K
with 6 other variables in a component described as density of demand, indicating
that it was closely related to all of these variables.

Finally, the fact that bunching fell off rapidly in the evenings in Outer London, but
increased in Inner London, may be significant (see Figures 5.7 and 5.8). A possible
explanation for this is that as routes are less closely controlled in the evenings, the
positive feedback mechanism causes progressively more bunching to occur in Inner
London (where demand is stronger) as the evening progresses.


Aim 5. To use statistical tests to assess which factors of a route are most closely
associated with bunching.

Table 5.3, reproduced here as Table 6.2, listed the factors of a route which were
most closely correlated to (i.e. averaged over the 5 sample days and the whole
length and both directions of a particular route). As can be seen, the most successful
predictor of as a linear relationship was the modal headway, followed by scheduled
bus-km and K. 9 other factors were also significant linear predictors of .

Statistic

Independent variable
Adjusted R
2
B (coefficient) C (constant) p
Modal headway (mins) 0.745 - 1.292 30.807 < 0.001
Scheduled bus-km (1000s) 0.729 3.452 6.456 < 0.001
K 0.729 552.060 9.046 < 0.001
Passengers per route-km 0.707 0.011 9.819 < 0.001
Passenger numbers (1000s) 0.704 0.373 10.653 < 0.001
Total traffic signals 0.403 0.202 10.863 < 0.001
Average stop dwell time (s) 0.376 1.481 6.004 < 0.001
Bus lane percentage 0.327 0.343 12.522 0.001
Mean speed (km/h) 0.226 - 1.473 40.046 0.007
Coeff. of variation of JT 0.164 - 118.693 38.511 0.021
Mean stop distance (m) 0.149 - 0.070 41.323 0.026
Mean journey time (mins) 0.125 0.199 8.134 0.039
Table 6.2. Summary of linear regression models.


Aim 6. To construct an empirical model using the iBus data that uses the factors
from Aim 5 to predict how severe bunching will be on a given route.

Although it had been intended to construct a multiple regression model, the multiple
colinearities between the intended independent variables made this impossible.
Instead, a model based upon the most successful predictor of , modal headway,
was derived. This was of the form
= 4u.S u.91S
H
,
Chapter 6 - Conclusion
64

where H is the modal headway. This model had an R
2
value of 0.838, indicating that
it predicts around 84% of the variation in using H.

Aim 7. To test this model against one or more hold-out samples to ascertain how
successful it is at predicting bunching.

The model was tested using the three hold-out samples, and was reasonably
successful, with an average error of approximately 9%. Figure 5.28, reproduced here
as Figure 6.6, showed the curve of the model equation, with the hold out samples in
red. The model performed well for modal headways of up to 15 minutes, but might
underestimate for bus services with modal headways of 20 minutes or more.


Figure 6.6.


Aim 8. To compare the results obtained in this dissertation with those of earlier
studies, summarised in the literature review.

Although the use of the metric as a measure of bunching was not encountered in
the literature review, there were several instances in which the work carried out in
this dissertation was comparable to earlier work. In particular the -curves presented
in Section 5.3 bore a striking resemblance to the form of two different measures of
bunching put forward by Abkowitz et al. (1986) and Adebisi (1986). The curves
suggested by their analyses (see Figures 5.21 and 5.22) were suggestive of the third
and second groups respectively of the -curves in this dissertation. However, the
form of the -curves seems to contradict the findings of Peng et al. (2008), that
bunching does not propagate down a bus route (though the methodology of that
study was rather different from this one). The fact that -curves for some of the lower
frequency routes appeared to be chaotic in nature seems to confirm Hills prediction
that positive feedback-induced bunching would take hundreds of stops to appear in
low frequency routes (Hill, 2003).

The graphs showing by time of day also substantiated the work of other
researchers. For example, Strathman et al. (1999) found that bunching is at its most
41
63
341
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
35%
40%
45%
0 5 10 15 20 25

Modal headway (mins)


Chapter 6 - Conclusion
65

severe in the late afternoon. The position of the peaks in bunching relative to bus
demand also substantiated Adebisis hypothesis that bunching is sensitive to abrupt
changes in demand (Adebisi, 1986).


6.2 Future research

There are several ways in which the work undertaken in this dissertation might be
extended to gain a clearer understanding of bunching behaviour in buses.

An obvious extension would be to carry out similar analysis to that presented
here, but using all of the routes under the administration of London Buses.
This would allow further study of the various forms of -curves, and greater
insight into the relationships between the independent variables and .
As only three of the 31 routes originally selected were served by articulated
buses, no conclusions were reached as to the relative merits of articulated
and double decker buses in reducing bunching, though the fact that modal
headway is such a crucial factor in bunching behaviour might lead one to
predict that a higher frequency double-decker service would be more bunched
than an articulated service offering the same capacity. It would be interesting
to look into this question in more detail. This could be done by selecting a
sample of routes deliberately to include all of the articulated routes in London.
Alternatively, a longitudinal study could be performed in which analysis of
bunching on a given route is carried out first when it is served by articulated
buses, and subsequently by double-deckers. There is certainly scope for this
currently, as TfL plans to convert all existing articulated routes to double-
deckers by the end of 2011. Results could provide an interesting new
dimension to the articulated versus double-decker debate.
It would be interesting to carry out regression analysis within routes, rather
than just between them. This would require more fine-grained data about the
routes themselves, but might aid more detailed analysis of -curves, and
explain why the gradients of the curves take particular values at particular
points. It might also allow clearer analysis of the relationships between the
independent variables and .
It would be interesting to run regression analyses of the independent variables
against the form of a routes -curve, where a dummy variable is ascribed
according to which of the three major groups the curve belongs to. This could
give some insight into why different routes have differently shaped -curves.
Once TfL has integrated its BREMS database with iBus (see Section 3.2), it
will be possible to know how many boardings take place at each stop event.
This will allow detailed analysis of the relationship between boardings and
bunching.
As discussed in Section 4.6, the simulations carried out in this dissertation
were somewhat limited in nature. These could be extended in various ways.
In particular, the probability distributions used for the variation of journey times
on stages, and the initial variations of headways, were assumed to be normal.
This may not be reflected in reality, and could be investigated further. In
addition, the findings of Strathman et al. (2003) found that driver identity was
a significant fact in journey time variation. This variability in speeds between
drivers could also be built into future simulations.
A more detailed factor analysis could be carried out to look in finer detail at
underlying relationships between the independent variables used in the
regression analysis.
Chapter 6 - Conclusion
66

Anecdotally, there seems to be a perception among bus users that buses tend
to arrive in pairs. It would be interesting to carry out survey work to ascertain
whether this is indeed a prevalent perception, and whether its strength
increases with for a given route. This could be important given the likely
effect of bunching on ridership.



67

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ROUTE
Route length
Bus lane %
Total signals
Mean stop
distance
Passenger
numbers
Passengers
per route-km
Scheduled
daily bus-km
Modal
headway
Mean
Journey time
(mins)
Standard dev.
of JT (secs)
Coefficient of
var. of JT
Mean speed
(kph)
Mean stop
dwell time
Dwell per
passenger
K
Artic
Arriva
GAG
Stagecoach
RATP


/10N
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70

Appendix 2 Correlations between
independent variables

Appendix 2 - Correlations
71






Appendix 2 - Correlations
72




73

Appendix 3 SPSS output of factor
analysis




FACTOR
/VARIABLES Headway Schedkm K PaxPerkm Passengers Signals StopTime Buslane
Speed CoeffVAr StopDist JT
/MISSING LISTWISE
/ANALYSIS Headway Schedkm K PaxPerkm Passengers Signals StopTime Buslane
Speed CoeffVAr StopDist JT
/PRINT UNIVARIATE INITIAL CORRELATION DET KMO EXTRACTION ROTATION
/FORMAT SORT BLANK(.4)
/PLOT EIGEN ROTATION
/CRITERIA FACTORS(3) ITERATE(25)
/EXTRACTION PC
/CRITERIA ITERATE(25)
/ROTATION VARIMAX
/METHOD=CORRELATION.

Factor Analysis

[DataSet1] C:\Users\Ruth &
Dave\Documents\Dave\MSc\Dissertation\Analysis\Regression\Regression
model.sav








Descriptive Statistics

Mean Std. Deviation Analysis N
Modal headway 9.04 4.661 27
Total daily scheduled bus-km 3671.15 1727.395 27
Passenger arrival rate divided
by passenger boarding rate
.01826422 .010802775 27
Daily passngers per route-km 883.22 557.461 27
Total daily passenger numbers 22731.48 15729.187 27
Total traffic signals on route 41.00 22.445 27
Average stop dwell time 8.861974 2.9613368 27
Proportion of route in bus lanes
as a percentage
19.26 12.005 27
Mean speed 14.2041 2.38288 27
Coefficient of variation
(standard deviation over mean)
of journey times
.163300 .0258871 27
Average distance between
stops
315.00 41.994 27
Mean journey time 3321.5481 835.28213 27
Appendix 3 SPSS output of factor analysis

74

Correlation Matrix
a

a. Determinant = 2.84E-008
[The full table has been omitted as it replicates the correlations in Appendix 2]




KMO and Bartlett's Test
Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin Measure of Sampling Adequacy. .591
Bartlett's Test of Sphericity Approx. Chi-Square 367.776
df 66
Sig. .000




Communalities

Initial Extraction
Modal headway 1.000 .812
Total daily scheduled bus-km 1.000 .934
Passenger arrival rate divided
by passenger boarding rate
1.000 .895
Daily passngers per route-km 1.000 .898
Total daily passenger numbers 1.000 .927
Total traffic signals on route 1.000 .814
Average stop dwell time 1.000 .659
Proportion of route in bus
lanes as a percentage
1.000 .694
Mean speed 1.000 .919
Coefficient of variation
(standard deviation over
mean) of journey times
1.000 .522
Average distance between
stops
1.000 .694
Mean journey time 1.000 .891
Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis.







Appendix 3 SPSS output of factor analysis

75


Total Variance Explained
Component
Initial Eigenvalues
Extraction Sums of Squared
Loadings
Rotation Sums of Squared
Loadings
Total
% of
Variance
Cumulative
% Total
% of
Variance
Cumulative
% Total
% of
Variance
Cumulative
%
dimension0
1 7.135 59.458 59.458 7.135 59.458 59.458 4.709 39.241 39.241
2 1.301 10.838 70.295 1.301 10.838 70.295 2.562 21.352 60.592
3 1.222 10.182 80.478 1.222 10.182 80.478 2.386 19.885 80.478
4 .713 5.943 86.420

5 .573 4.777 91.197

6 .457 3.811 95.008

7 .313 2.607 97.615

8 .143 1.194 98.809

9 .078 .646 99.455

10 .038 .318 99.773

11 .023 .190 99.963

12 .004 .037 100.000

Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis.







Appendix 3 SPSS output of factor analysis

76

Component Matrix
a


Component
1 2 3
Daily passngers per route-
km
.938
Total daily passenger
numbers
.938
Passenger arrival rate
divided by passenger
boarding rate
.907
Modal headway -.841
Total daily scheduled bus-
km
.831 .453
Average stop dwell time .801
Proportion of route in bus
lanes as a percentage
.798
Total traffic signals on route .744 .454
Mean speed -.632 .448 -.565
Average distance between
stops
-.576 .567
Coefficient of variation
(standard deviation over
mean) of journey times
-.574 .434
Mean journey time .512 .625 .487
Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis.
a. 3 components extracted.
















Appendix 3 SPSS output of factor analysis

77

Rotated Component Matrix
a


Component
1 2 3
Passenger arrival rate
divided by passenger
boarding rate
.868
Modal headway -.831
Daily passngers per route-
km
.796 .420
Total daily scheduled bus-
km
.777 .573
Total daily passenger
numbers
.767 .521
Coefficient of variation
(standard deviation over
mean) of journey times
-.716
Average stop dwell time .659 .413
Mean speed -.912
Average distance between
stops
-.778
Proportion of route in bus
lanes as a percentage
.546 .578
Mean journey time .937
Total traffic signals on route .424 .742
Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis.
Rotation Method: Varimax with Kaiser Normalization.
a. Rotation converged in 5 iterations.




Component Transformation Matrix
Component 1 2 3
dimension0
1 .768 .469 .436
2 .032 -.708 .705
3 -.640 .528 .559
Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis.
Rotation Method: Varimax with Kaiser
Normalization.