Overcrowded buses are a huge problem

Overcrowded buses are a huge problem

Overcrowded buses stink. Lots of riders have to stand. People are packed together, jostling each other when the bus hits bumps.. Getting on or off takes a long time. And when it rains, well, sometimes the buses literally kind of stink.

Overcrowded buses are slow and uncomfortable – the opposite of good buses that people want to ride.

Halifax Transit has an overcrowding problem. It’s so bad that buses on some routes get so full that no one else can get on – drivers must turn riders away. Unlucky riders must wait, hoping the next bus isn’t too full to get on. It’s a terrible feeling.

A bus that is too full to let more passengers on is overloaded. Halifax Transit tracks overloading in their quaterly reports. Drivers report the overloads. In the last quarter the following routes had the most overloads :

  • Route 9 – serving Spryfield via Herring Cove Rd. (58 overloads)
  • Route 90 – serving Bedford via the Bedford Hwy. and Larry Uteck Blvd. (24 overloads)
  • Route 1 – serving Dal, west end Halifax, plus Mumford and Bridge Terminals (24 overloads)
  • Route 4 – serving Dal, SMU, hospitals and Clayton Park (20 overloads)
  • Route 8 – serving Bedford and Sackville via the Bedford Hwy. (15 overloads)

These numbers don’t cover fall 2023, when students returned to campus and local high schools: overloads are probably more common now.

Overloaded buses are the worst type of crowding, but there are plenty of other buses that get uncomfortably full. Halifax Transit’s standards for crowding (see 6.6.2) are that routes should not exceed 150% of seated capacity over a thirty minute period. So, if there are 34 seats (about the number for a 40-foot bus) than 51 people can be onboard before Halifax Transit considers it too crowded. That’s a pretty full bus and a lot of grumpy riders!

Halifax Transit’s reports don’t track crowding. So without further work, we don’t know how often buses get crowded. But their own standards suggest bus routes that are regularly overcrowded may have larger buses assigned, more depatures, or other changes. But some routes – particularly the 9 and 1 – have been crowded for years. Reducing crowding doesn’t seem to be a priority.

Full buses – with some people standing – are good. Lots of people on the bus! But overcrowded buses are uncomfortable and slow. Overloads – well, they just stink. It’s the same as the bus not showing up – you’re at the stop, but you can’t get on. You’re stuck waiting, running late for work, school, or another important event. Some riders give up – they stop taking the bus because of crowding – it’s just too uncomfortable and unreliable.

We’ll dig deeper into the problem of overloads and crowding. It’s a predictabel issue for too many riders. For now, our ask is simple: send us your experiences with overloaded and crowded buses. Better yet, send your feedback directly to Halifax Regional Municipality: to 311 or to your Councillor. Let our leaders now that the status quo – overloaded buses – is unacceptable.