It's a hypothetical study involving a rather unique community, but the findings reported by public policy professor Edmund Zolnik and a group of researchers at George Mason University could have broad significance. "In a paper published earlier this year, they concluded [a bus system in Fairfax, Va. that serves the university community] could reduce travel times by 23 percent and cut operating costs by about same amount if it scrapped 43 percent of its bus stops," reports Ryan Holeywell.
"That may seem dramatic, but they say it wouldn't drastically reduce the number of community members served by the system," adds Holeywell. But that conclusion is based on the assumption that passengers would be willing to walk half a mile to a stop.
The study found that reducing the City-University-Energysaver (CUE) bus system's stops from 121 to 68 resulted in shortening a one-way trip on the route from 2 hours and 4 minutes to 1 hour and 36 minutes.
"Not only would that make the trip shorter for existing riders, Zolnik says, but such a reduction in travel times would likely encourage more people to use the system since it could be more useful for them. Moreover, the transit system could use the savings to fund things that might encourage transit use, like cheaper fares or upgraded bus shelters."