Operational Performance of Existing Bus Routes
Each existing bus route should be evaluated individually to determine if the service provided is attracting a desired amount of ridership and revenue.
Criteria are generally based on national and state standards. In some instances, performance of an individual route is judged in relationship to the
performance of the entire system. This takes into account cost differences, inflation, and conditions specific to the local service area. Otherwise, standards
could quickly become outdated. The criteria used to evaluate the operational performance of the Green Bay Metro are as follows:
a. Revenue per Hour
The revenue per hour of a route should be no less than 80 percent of the system median. These data are regularly recorded by the Brown County Planning
Commission and Green Bay Metro and are used to determine the financial success of a route. Criteria mandating that individual routes fall within
a specific range of the system median is considered a reasonable measuring device because certain routes may be less financially efficient than others. An
80 percent range is sufficiently close to the system median while accounting for individual route characteristics.
b. Passengers per Hour
By determining the number of passengers per hour, bus routes can be compared to one another as to how many passengers they carry regardless of a varying
fare structure. There is no national standard for small and medium sized bus systems as standards vary widely from city to city. As with the revenue per
hour criterion, the number of passengers per hour should be at least 80 percent of the system median.
c. Operating Ratio
The operating ratio is determined by dividing a route’s total passenger revenue by its total operating expense. The operating ratio on any route should not be
less than 80 percent of the system median. This standard serves to connect the cost of a route with its effectiveness in revenue generation.
d. Loading Standards
Bus service should provide adequate capacity to meet passenger demand. The average maximum load factor is determined for service at peak and off-peak
periods. It is calculated by dividing the number of passengers at the maximum load point of a route by the number of seats provided on the bus. A factor
greater than 1.00 signifies that some passengers are standees. The average maximum load factor for local peak service should be 1.25. For local off-peak
service and all express service, the average maximum load factor should be 1.00. Because of economic considerations, a sufficient number of buses may not
be available to provide every passenger a seat during peak periods. Passengers usually do not have to stand for long distances due to high passenger
turnover. During off-peak periods, a seat should be provided for every passenger. Because express buses run at relatively high speeds, all passengers should
be seated for safety consideration. These load factors are nationally accepted standards applicable to Green Bay.
A goal of the transit system is to minimize transfers for they tend to increase trip time and inconvenience. Transfers indicate passenger trip desires and the system should be designed to make a passenger’s trip as rapid and simple as possible.
f. Schedule Adherence
One of the most important criteria in evaluating route performance is schedule adherence. On-time operation ensures a smooth running system by minimizing waiting time for passengers. This is imperative if the bus system is to attract and keep riders. The range of on-time variance is zero minutes early to five minutes late under normal conditions. This is the nationally accepted standard for small- and medium-sized bus systems. While the goal of a transit system is to achieve 100 percent on-time operation, many unanticipated factors can cause delays, such as traffic congestion or accidents, rail and bridge crossings, mechanical failures, and inclement weather. The acceptable level of on-time performance for the system is >90%.
The above criteria apply to all current routes of the Green Bay Metro. However, in some instances, such as a suburban route (De Pere or Ashwaubenon), an individual route may not attain the ridership, revenues, or service characteristics required of the system median, but is still considered highly desirable. Situations include:
- A route might be extended through a non-productive riding area to service a high density residential area.
- A route might intersect other routes or feed into other routes to establish convenient transfer points in providing overall system continuity.
- Evening or Saturday ridership on segments of certain routes may be relatively light, but the service should be continued to provide a continuity of service on the overall bus system.
Operational Performance of New Bus Routes
Evaluation of new bus routes differs from the evaluation of existing routes. New routes are to be examined in six month stages to give the people in the service area a chance to become familiar with the route and time for the route to show improvement over its initial performance. Evaluations of new routes should include the following considerations:
- The criteria of revenue per hour, passengers per hour, and operating ratio use minimum measurements, based on a specific formula or system median. After six months of service, a new route must reach 30 percent of the median ridership and revenue of existing routes. If a route meets these criteria and is continued, a second evaluation occurs after an additional six months when it must reach 60 percent of the system median. In the second year of service, a new route must conform to all criteria established for existing routes.
- The criteria for loading standards, transferring, and schedule adherence should be met by all new routes after the first week of service.
Performance Evaluation Period
An examination of existing bus routes is to be made annually with new routes evaluated after the first six month and twelve month periods. Any route inconsistent with the revenue and service criteria established for the system should be further examined to determine the reasons for not achieving desired performance. Serious consideration must be given to abandoning or making substantial changes to routes which are chronically unproductive.
On an annual basis the bus route evaluation will be documented and presented to the Green Bay Transit Commission by the Brown County Planning Commission staff in cooperation with the transit management. Recommendations for bus route changes will be included in the evaluation report.