Modelling the Net Traffic Congestion Impact of Bus Operations in Melbourne

Aerial photograph of road


Bus services can be seen as a way to reduce traffic congestion where they can encourage a mode shift from car. However, they can also generate negative effects on traffic flow due to stop-start operations at bus stops. This paper aims to assess the net impact of bus operations on traffic congestion in Melbourne. The methodology used to achieve this aim comprised of three main stages. First, a primary survey was conducted to determine the mode shift from bus to car when buses are unavailable. This figure was used to estimate the positive impact of buses on relieving congestion. Second, the negative impact of buses was investigated by considering the effect of bus stop operations on vehicle traffic flow using microsimulation. Finally, the net effect was estimated by contrasting congestion measures determined from a traditional four step model between two scenarios: ‘with bus’ and ‘without bus’. The results indicated that Melbourne’s bus network contributes to reduce the number of severely congested road links by approximately 10% and total delay on the road network by around 3%. The highest congestion relief impact was found in inner Melbourne with a 7% decrease in vehicle time travelled and total delay, and 16% decrease in the number of heavily congested road links. In inner areas, the level of congestion is relatively high so the mode shift from car to bus, even if not as high as middle and outer areas, have a significant effect on relieving traffic congestion. Areas for future research are suggested such as investigating the long-term effect of buses on traffic congestion.


NGUYEN-PHUOC, D.Q., CURRIE, G., DE GRUYTER, C., KIM, I. and YOUNG, W. (2018). Modelling the Net Traffic Congestion Impact of Bus Operations in Melbourne. Transportation Research Part A 117 (2018): 1-12. Web.