Why Do Crowded Buses Still Happen?

January 12, 2011 Blog 7 comments

One of the most befuddling things I encounter, day after working day as a bus commuter, is this:

Why are the same crowded buses always crowded?

On the flip side, why are the same relatively empty buses empty over the same period?

Naturally, there could be many different reasons why this is so, and they could range from the following:

1) Insufficient bus captains
2) Insufficient buses
3) Inability to forecast commuter traffic (yeah right)
4) Inability to make profits if bus frequency is increased
5) Inability to mobilise and redeploy buses quickly enough to meet demand (despite GPS, satellite technology, mobile networks, and other forms of artificial intelligence)
6) Bus passengers refusing to move to the back (a pet peeve of mine)
7) All of the above

While all the above points are probably correct to some degree or other, they don’t really mean anything to the commuter who has just missed his or her bus and is going to be late for work, or has to stand in a thick and smelly crowd.

The most heart wrenching thing is that the lack of seats have resulted in an aggressive and anti-social behaviour amongst tired bus commuters. We have to be reminded to give up our seats, move in to the back of the bus, and to assist the elderly, the young, the pregnant, or the disabled.

An occasional lapse is perhaps forgiveable. But not when it happens day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.

Do you have an answer or a solution to this?

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.


  1. Since Melbourne public transport has become so congested over the past few years, I’ve noticed that people (including me) are more focused about boarding first if possible so they can get one of the now scarce seats for their journey.

    Hence people standing too close to train doors when they open, making it difficult for people to exit. I try to be mindful of others in this situation myself, but I sorta understand why a long-distance commuter would be more ruthless about trying to get a seat home after a long day at work.

    Underinvestment in public infrastructure has inevitably chipped away at our sense of community, though on the whole people still do the right thing.

  2. If all buses are crowded all the time, then insufficient infrastructure and resources. But empty buses mean bad planning!

  3. All of the above! Luckily in Perth, Western Australia it isn’t so bad, however it still happens in peak hour. My solution is to have more buses running – simple!

  4. I reckon it’s simply the same reason why restaurants are busy at lunch time & dinner time. Everyone (a lot) goes to work & leaves work at roughly the same time. As with a restaurant, the staff work all day, not just when it’s busy. The bus drivers work all day but they can’t ~triple the number of drivers at certain periods, it just wouldn’t make sense.

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