Monday, 8 March 2010

Why I hate catching buses

This Discover posting explains succinctly why buses bunch up together and you almost always have to wait much longer for a bus to arrive than the timetable would claim.

Imagine all of the buses are roughly on time. Now imagine that one bus (call it bus S) happens to fall behind. Because S is running behind, more time has elapsed since the previous bus has passed. This means that more waiting passengers have accumulated, at more bus stops. This in turn means that bus S has to stop more often, and has to pick up more people at each stop. Hence, bus S falls even farther behind.
And the converse, of course, is also true. The bus behind has fewer passengers to pick up, so gradually gets early until it catches the bus S.

But of course, knowing the mechanism doesn't provide any comfort as you wait in the freezing blast of winter for a bus that was supposed to be here 10 minutes ago!

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