Too Few Buses or Inadequate Service Capacity
Inadequate service capacity — waiting too long for a bus, which is often overcrowded when it arrives — is a common problem in many cities in developing countries.
On main urban routes, waiting times of more than 10 to 15 minutes during the normal working day may be seen as excessive. Overcrowding occurs when every bus operating in the direction of peak traffic flow carries more than its permitted maximum load.
The problem may be experienced under any system, from a public monopoly to one that is completely deregulated.
It may be due to a genuine shortage of capacity, in which case the solution is to introduce additional or larger buses into the system.
However, in many cases where a shortage of buses is perceived to be the cause of the problem, there are enough buses, or even more buses than necessary. The reason for inadequate capacity is often that the buses are poorly utilized, typically spending excessive time standing idle at terminals. This is usually due to inefficient operating practices, such as the common practice of full-load dispatching, where buses don’t leave the terminal until they are fully loaded.
This means that passengers wishing to board buses along the route may have to wait for long periods. Also, when a bus does arrive it will be full unless some passengers have disembarked since it left the terminal.
Adding more buses in this situation will not increase the capacity of the service. It will merely result in longer queues of buses waiting at the terminals for full loads.
Such inefficient practices may be the result of an inappropriate or inadequate regulatory framework.They are particularly common where services are provided by a large number of small operators with only one or two vehicles each.