Recently a CTA bus driver wrote me with his view on bus bunching. Thanks to him for sharing:
Bus bunching is obviously something that we all see happen, two or three, maybe even four buses running together in the same direction at the same time.
There are a number of reasons buses can bunch, one of the biggest reasons being traffic. However, from the riding publics point of view...at least in my experience, they find it so easy to blame it on us (drivers) all the time, or say the bus left the terminal late. The reality is that even if a bus leaves its starting point on time, it still can run into "on route" conflicts that can quickly and easily but a bus behind on its schedule. Add a pinch of inclement weather to that and...VOILA! You have a bus bunching situation waiting to happen.
Schedules are based on NORMAL travel conditions, or at least what is sought to be normal. The sad reality is, traffic and weather are so sporadic and unpredictable that there is no real easy way to prevent a bus from becoming late. A late bus only becomes later because it now must pick up a heavier load.
There are many things the public can do to help. Board as quickly possible manner, and cooperate with the driver when asked to step to the rear.
Excluding seniors and disabilities, some folks just take WAY too long to pay their fare and step out of the way, not limited to waiting until they step on to take it out. This only ties a bus at a service stop longer, and a missed light is a possible minute later on an already late bus, or a bus that was on time is now late.
Tomorrow: Chris' thoughts on drivers purposely slowing down to reduce bunching.