Watch a Bus Stop Get Redesigned Before Your Very Eyes

By Sarah Zhang on at

When patience is short and waits are long, squeezing onto the bus becomes a mad, lawless scramble. And that won't do if your buses have to transport 100,000 passengers a day, like Vancouver's extremely busy 99 line. So transportation planners got out a camera and some tape—you can watch the results in this transfixing time-lapse video.

For planning firm NelsonNygaard, figuring out how to fix the bus line started small. They filmed a morning's worth of traffic and used cheap, small interventions to get passengers to queue up without blocking the pavement. For example, you can see tape being laid down to divide the pavement into four sections: one for pedestrians and one for a line to each of the bus's three doors.

Even with the three lines, waiting passengers stretched around the corner. In this second video—of the same bus line going in the opposite direction—you can see planners trying to get passengers to form a switchback, aka the loops common in airport and amusement park lines. Pavement tape wasn't enough to get switchbacks to work; they needed upright stanchions to guide the passengers.

These time-lapse videos are raw data for NelsonNygaard to plan more permanent structures to guide the lines for Vancouver's 99 bus. For us non-transportation pros, they're a startling reminder of the sheer volume of people public transportation systems have to handle everyday. A little snag or a little improvement in efficiency ultimately makes a big difference.

Paul Supawanich, a senior associate NelsonNygaard who uploaded these videos, lives in San Francisco, where he's more recently put the Google bus in his neighbourhood under time-lapse scrutiny. Google bus—or what they represent, really—has provoked some strong feelings of late, but the video itself is just raw data. You can watch and decided for yourself about the Google bus. [Next City]