Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Jargon Part 1: The Pass-up

If you are waiting for a bus, and when it arrives it is full, and you watch helplessly as the driver leaves without opening the door, you have just experienced a pass-up. Your misery is magnified because the usual reason for a pass-up is that a previous bus (or three) was missing. So not only did you wait for a late bus, but when it got there, it left without you.

SFMTA counts a bus too full to pick up passengers as a pass-up when there is no bus 3 minutes or less behind it that can pick up passengers. But as far as I know, SFMTA does very little counting of pass-ups at all.

The 2008 FY Q1 service service standards report lists pass-up statistics for only a handful of lines, among them my favorites the 29 Sunset and N Judah. When I rode the N regularly into town in the morning I would occasionally, but only rarely, ride trains that were too full to accept passengers at some point. Let's say, one or two mornings out of 20. If the N was 10-20 minutes late it was pretty much a given that some people at Carl and Cole wouldn't make it on.

But the 29 is a different story. I ride it southbound from Judah most every morning around 8:30, and 1-2 days out of 5 the bus is too full for passengers on Sunset starting somewhere around Noriega. During yesterday's cluster fuck, the bus passed or was unable to pick up all the passengers at about 2/3 of the stops on Sunset, cleared out partially at SF State, and then (this was something new for me) filled up again. We blew by about half the stops from 19th to Ocean. And this morning we would have passed by about half of Sunset except that the driver had a half dozen people standing ahead of the yellow line ... and this was a diesel bus without the interlock on the back door steps, which allowed a few people to stand in the stairwell.

Oddly, the pass-up statistics are for the northbound/inbound 29. If the point is to find the pass-ups, the southbound route is the one to study. By my reckoning, 80% of the riders on the bus between Lincoln and Ocean are students headed to either City or State, mostly City. Morning rush hour is always busier than evening rush hour, and southbound is the route in demand in the morning. (You can walk from Balboa Park to City in a few minutes, and there are a zillion ways to get to Balboa Park, so who cares about northbound.) Someone may well have measured 0.0% pass-ups on the inbound 29, but that's not the busy route.

0.0% pass-ups sounds pretty good though.

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