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June 8, 2012

Bus Stop Placement, Pros and Cons

by Louie Maiello - Also by this author

This month, I will be addressing a question asked of me a few weeks ago at APTA’s Bus & Paratransit Conference in Long Beach, Calif. I would also like to thank those who took a moment to introduce themselves as followers of this blog page in Metro Magazine.

While at the coffee bar, I was approached by a transit professional who asked where I thought it was safer to place bus stops, at the nearside or farside of an intersection? We agreed that agencies, over the years for safety reasons, have been favoring the farside bus stops as opposed to the nearside stops. For those who may be unaware of the meaning of farside vs. nearside stops, farside are those placed on the far side of the intersection and nearside stops are at the near side of the intersection. 

One of the main reasons, if not the main reason for relocating bus stops from the nearside to the farside of the intersections, was the increase in the number of collisions that occurred at nearside stops due to vehicles along the left side of the bus moving left to right in front of the bus in an attempt to make a right turn. This usually resulted in a collision and/or onboard injuries as a result of a heavy brake application by the bus operator to avoid contact with the left front side portion of the bus and the vehicle sweeping from left to right to attempt the right turn. Many times, this also occurred as the operator was attempting to move straight/left to depart the bus stop.

Below I have listed a few pros and cons for both nearside and farside placement of bus stops. Remember, most stops were moved and are still being moved due to the belief that farside is safer than nearside. I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Bus Stop placement, wherever it may be, brings many challenges to a bus operator. Next time you are on a bus, see how many hazards the bus operator has to deal with entering and exiting. Adding to these two types of bus stops are stops in mid-block and after a right and left turn — a whole different set of challenges with these types. Thought it was easy, eh? Here we go:

Nearside Pros:

  • Transferring customers from a crosstown bus coming from the front, visible to the operator.
  • Entering at a slower rate of speed, increasing the time to take corrective action to deal with someone stepping from the curb.
  • Pedestrians waiting to cross do so while the bus is already standing and not moving into the stop.

Nearside Cons:

  • Vehicles that are moving from same direction left of bus, attempting to turn right at the cross street in front of bus.
  • Operators having to maneuver around and merge between vehicles that are attempting to turn right into cross street from left and front of bus.

Farside Pros:

  • No cross street in front of bus to contend with, therefore, no vehicles attempting to turn right in front of bus.

Farside Cons:

  • Bus moving at a greater speed through the intersection, increasing the chance of a collision with a vehicle moving opposite direction of bus that attempts a left turn in front of bus.
  • Pedestrian stepping out from the right corner curb as the bus approaches the bus stop.
  • Pedestrian(s) stepping from the bus stop (horseplay).
  • Second bus entering an already occupied bus stop, causing a portion of the bus to overhang into the intersection. (Extremely dangerous and highly unprofessional!)
  • Vehicles occupying dedicated right turn only lanes, instead of turning, decide to proceed straight, and have come between the bus and the approaching farside bus stop. (Happens all the time, and not a good feeling having the right side of the bus exposed to moving vehicles.) A training bus no-no.

What are your thoughts? Please add to my list and state your opinion.

In case you missed it...

Read our METRO blog, "OCTA CEO: Is your agency ready for the ‘big one’?," here.



Louie Maiello

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  • Driver Education Instructor Gloria Bradley[ June 8th, 2012 @ 10:56am ]

    great topic. we teach students on how to handle bus situations, but i never really thought about placement of the bus stop and the pros and cons.... thank you!

  • Bob[ June 8th, 2012 @ 11:08am ]

    at transfer points I like a combination of near and far side stops placed such that the most number of people transfering as possible can do so without crossing any street at all. unfortunately a small percentage will then have to cross two streets to transfer. danged if you do/danged if you don't I have also used midblock stops when appropriate but they are hard to keep illegal parkers out of. also in an attempt to reduce the number of close together stops I will take four nearside stops and make them into a nearside/farside/nearside triplet. making the extra distance anyone has to walk little more than accross the intersection. this is especially usefull in the more distance parts of a route in residential areas. I've been in this business for 40+ years and the nearside/farside argument was old when I was a much younger man. Bob

  • Lance Peterson[ June 8th, 2012 @ 11:10am ]

    A farside stop takes less curb space with less parking spaces removed.

  • T. R. Hickey[ June 8th, 2012 @ 11:35am ]

    Your pros and cons do not account for traffic controls. All other factors being equal from an operations standpoint, far-side stops are preferred at an intersection controlled by a traffic light while near-side stops are better at intersections controlled by a stop sign. As far as the hazard of right-turning drivers at near-side stops, the third thing my instructor taught me about driving a bus (immediately following how to accelerate and how to brake) was how to curb a bus with my tail still blocking the traffic lane!

  • Tomika Monterville[ June 8th, 2012 @ 11:46am ]

    The pros and cons that you have presented for the nearside and farside bus stops are great. However, two additional elements that should be evaluated in the determination of a transit/bus stop location should be land use and the overall stop environment. The types of land uses at or near bus stops are a significant factor in the evaluation of safe/unsafe boarding and alighting at both nearside and farside bus stops. In my experience, general guidelines for bus stop placement are useful, but each stop site evaluation should consider: 1.) peak flows/ridership on the route; 2.)bus stop boarding/alighting volumes; 3.) land uses around the stop (i.e. commercial (retail/office), residential, etc.). As bus and transit service increases, requiring new bus stops, it is critical that we plan bus facilities (stops and amenities)holistically by not simply looking at the intersection of a stop, but the context of the intersection and bus stop in the bus corridor, neighborhood or community.

  • Mark Patzloff[ June 8th, 2012 @ 11:53am ]

    Farside Pro: (from a veteran driver): Berthing the bus far side is done more quickly and more accurately.

  • Arye Rubenstein[ June 8th, 2012 @ 1:04pm ]

    Near-side stops are generally safer for riders, pedestrians and clients running across intersections to catch the bus as they are better seen by the transit operator. Far-side stops are safer for the vehicles (transit and others) and the transit operators. Here in Chicago it is illegal to turn right in front of a bus, perhaps it is time to start enforcing it and it should be illegal elsewhere too. The problems of stacking buses is worse on the far side when a bus blocks far-side cross traffic due to parked vehicles or stopped buses and is illegal also (stopping/blocking in/an intersection) the same law applies to bus operators stopping on the nearside!

  • Jay Furlong[ June 8th, 2012 @ 1:57pm ]

    My preference is for nearside and to add to the pros is the fact that passengers are less likely to cross in front of the bus as they often do at a nearside stop.

  • Louie Maiello[ June 8th, 2012 @ 4:55pm ]

    To all, This appears to be a popular subject with all of us. Great input from all of you. T.R. Hickey, I recall being taught as you were, to leave that left tail out in traffic. Times sure have changed. Today leaving that tail out there and then getting hit in that inviting bulls’ eye can be charged as a preventable collision. This puts more responsibility on instructors correctly teaching the different way (and yes it is a different approach than a 40' bus) to approach and enter a bus stop with a longer 60' articulated bus to ensure a straight required stop. Thanks for your response; you brought back a training bus memory for me. All the best. Louie

  • J.F. Power[ June 11th, 2012 @ 4:38am ]

    This age old problem is being looked at with age old eyes.Yes,as I read Louie's latest entry,I had a flashback to the one and only, PTL, on-board passenger accident in the thirteen years I drove a bus for NYCT. Yes, it was attempting to leave a bus stop,with a vehicle making a right turn, and a hard application of the brakes. The answer to this problem rest with the transit community. The creation of dedicated bus lanes, separated from other traffic would put this question to bed. Working as a community with elected officials to lobby and advocate for transit "right of ways", much like the dedicated bike lanes being established in many of the major metropolitan cities.The transit bus is the most versatile means of moving people. Given the appropriate priority in the intracity and intercity transportation infrastructure, surface transit can obtain a safety record to rival the airline industry.

  • Marc ELLENBERG - LYON - FRANCE[ June 12th, 2012 @ 8:28am ]

    Bus Stop Placement, Pros and Cons : Surprised that 2 main characteristics of the crossing and placement, over the issue "far or near" are not mentionned : first one "before or after", in general the "after the crossing" placement is safer and more efficient for traffic smoothness, and second "crossing equipped with traffic lights - or not". In general with traffic lights "near is better", and without "far" is better.

  • Jeff M[ June 13th, 2012 @ 6:54am ]

    Interesting topic. Land use is an important consideration regarding placement guidelines at stops. Access points are a challenge when locating near or far side. Too often a far side stop has a driveway to a store front or gas station right in front of the bus. (push for no left turns at these locations) Pedestrian movements are becoming more and more a responsibility for public transit providers. A determining factor when choosing near or far side needs to be existing pedestrian facilities and crosswalks with curb ramps. Bus stop locations do influence pedestrian behavior. Bus stop guidelines (TCRP) help us make sound decisions when locating stops, however with so many variables The one size fits all approach regarding near or far isn’t possible. Ann Arbor is a far side stop agency with some exceptions, usually determined by accessibility and ADA compliance.

  • Marc Healy[ July 2nd, 2012 @ 6:07am ]

    I believe the issue of safety and advances in safety measures, is a topic that warrants greater discussion. I don't mean this in an activist tone! However a healthy discussion on best practice and a sharing of Emergency response knowledge would be more than worthwhile. There is a huge amount of tacit on the job knowledge that exists among the Emergency Response community that if shared would reduce accidents and possibly save lives. I have dealt with some of the finest Emergency Responders in the business and have compiled a collection of insights I have included five quick steps to improving your Emergency Response for a transport network Whether your involved in Emergency Response or work behind a desk at executive level an active and innovative approach to improving safety can improve: - Employee Motivation - PR and Corporate Social Responsibility - Overall Efficiency - Reduce down time - Avoid costs associated with accidents

  • Bob Bourne[ July 8th, 2012 @ 9:07am ]

    TCRP #19, Guidelines for the Location and Design of Bus Stops is an excellent reference source for the pros and cons of near side, far side, and mid block stops. It also has recommendations for stop spacing depending on the type of land use along the route. I am still amazed that many small cities do not have marked bus stops.


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Author Bio

Joyce Rose

President/CEO, Operation Lifesaver Inc.

Joyce Rose is President and CEO of Operation Lifesaver Inc., a national, non-profit safety education group whose goal is to eliminate deaths and injuries at railroad crossings and along railroad rights-of-way.

Steve Mentzer

Manager, Transit Simulations, Training & Courseware, L-3 D.P. Associates

Steve Mentzer is manager, transit simulations, training & courseware, at L-3 D.P. Associates.

Louie Maiello

Louie Maeillo is a Sr. Consultant (Transit Training & Simulation), L-3 / DPA Independent Consultant, Bus Talk Surface Transit Solutions

Jason Palmer

President, SmartDrive Systems

Palmer is the president of SmartDrive Systems, a leader in providing comprehensive, video-based operator performance and safety programs to help transit agencies achieve operational safety and efficiency, protect operators and the public, and lower costs overall.

Barak Israel

product manager

Barak Israel is product marketing manager for the security domain for NICE Systems Inc.

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