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7 Reasons Why Buses Are Late

Whether you’re trying to get to work, school, or anywhere else, public transportation can often be the best, easiest, or cheapest option.

One of the most broadly utilized forms of public transportation is buses, which are still very commonly used worldwide.

However, if you are on a strict schedule, late buses could cause an issue, which is why many of us would like to know why a bus can be late.  

As a bus driver myself, I’ve listed the 7 most common reasons why buses are late.

1. Mechanical Faults With The Bus

As with any other mode of transportation, a certain amount of maintenance is required to keep a bus in good working condition and safe to operate.

Though most bus companies can keep their buses in relatively good condition, there are times when a bus may fail, or a fault may appear that needs to get repaired before the bus can continue on its journey.

In the useful lifespan of a bus, roughly 250 000 miles or 12 years, you are likely to notice it break down at least once or twice, even if the bus is in relatively good condition.

Unfortunately, if a bus breaks down and cannot continue its route, or even if the bus can get repaired in a few minutes, it will drastically alter the schedule and cause the bus to be late.

Late arrivals due to mechanical faults on the bus are also more widespread in areas where the bus companies do not take care of their buses and keep them in good condition.

When the bus is not checked and repaired frequently, the bus will likely end up with a shorter lifespan and many more mechanical faults during the scheduled trips.

Why The Bus Is Late: Mechanical Faults

  • The bus needs to get repaired
  • The bus cannot reach its destination
  • The bus may need to get replaced
  • Current passengers may need to get moved

2. The Driver Is Late

The bus schedule relies mainly on the bus driver to get the bus to the required destinations by a specific time. With this in mind, it is natural that a bus will be late if the bus driver is late, which can be both in and out of the bus driver’s control.

Many factors can cause a bus driver to be late or not to show up for work, including illness, traffic on the way to work, or just taking breaks when they shouldn’t.

Though there are no statistical numbers on the matter, there are numerous instances of bus drivers taking the time to smoke, run into a shop, or do other things while passengers are getting on or off the bus. Doing this is a surefire way to ensure the bus will be late for the next stop and cause more issues.

In other cases, if a bus driver is too sick to drive the usual route, a replacement may need to be called into work, or there may be one less bus on the route, which can also make the whole process run late.

Even more minor things, like the bus driver having trouble getting to work, can cause the bus schedule to run late, and unfortunately, that isn’t always something foreseeable or avoidable.

Why The Bus Is Late: The Driver

  • The driver takes too many breaks
  • The driver is sick and unable to come to work
  • The driver is unable to begin the route on time

3. Poor Bus Stop Planning

The placement of bus stops can also drastically affect the efficiency of the bus service, and closer bus stops don’t allow the buses to reach their most effective usage.

By having bus stops that are too close together, the busses don’t reach their efficient speed and can cause the route to take longer than it should or run late.

If there are greater distances between bus stops, there is a higher chance of the buses being reliable, faster, and more frequent.

Poor bus stop planning can cause the bus to slow down too much and therefore cause the schedule to run late.

Why The Bus Is Late: Bus Stops

  • Buses don’t operate efficiently
  • Buses slow and stop more often, which elongates commute time

4. There Is Excessive Traffic

Some things, like the traffic on a specific day, aren’t something anyone alone can control or predict, which is why this is one of the main reasons the bus may be late.

A minor thing can cause a bus to become behind schedule, and the inefficiency may continue if it must pass through traffic to get to all the bus stops on its route.

In some areas, cycling is a common way of getting around, and though this may not seem like a significant issue, if there is little space for cyclists to ride, the bus may be forced to slow down or wait for cyclists to ensure their safety.

In addition to this, road accidents aren’t uncommon, which is another way a bus may become late, especially if roads are closed because of these accidents.

There is also the possibility of traffic jams happening during the busiest times of the day, which can cause a bus or several buses to veer off schedule.

If there is any traffic on the roads the bus needs to follow; there is also the chance that this may further result in inefficiency through bus bunching.

Why The Bus Is Late: Excessive Traffic

  • Traffic jams during peak hours
  • Closed roads due to accidents
  • Cyclists or other slow vehicles

5. A Problem Causes Bus Bunching

Bus bunching happens when a bus starts a little late and continues to operate behind schedule due to slight delays until another bus catches up with it and causes inefficiency.

Bus bunching causes a bus to lose more and more momentum, which in turn allows more efficient or on schedule busses to catch up to the inefficient bus by having fewer passengers to pick up.

When a bus is slow or behind schedule, it has to pick up more people on the route than it usually needs to, which causes the bus to wait longer as people get on or off the bus and make it even later.

The more people the bus has to wait for, the further behind schedule it becomes, and the fewer passengers there are for the next bus to pick up, causing that bus to become more and more ahead of schedule.

This inefficiency can quickly become so bad that there is more than one bus at the same bus stop at a time, and it can cause the bus to become very late or very early.

Why The Bus Is Late: Bus Bunching

  • A delay can cause the bus a whole day of inefficiency
  • One delay can cause a snowball effect to cause further inefficiency
  • More passengers need to be picked up or let off

6. The Weather Can Cause The Route To Take Longer Than Expected

Though many bus services still operate during terrible weather, this can cause the buses to become late or behind schedule.

Bad weather may cause a bus to drive more slowly, causing it to become late, and some weather conditions may also result in closed-off roads and areas inaccessible to buses, resulting in further delays.

Many weather situations may cause a bus to become late, including heaving rain, snow, strong winds, or even mist.

In some areas, snow can be so sudden and overwhelming that roads need to be closed for the safety of passengers, resulting in buses needing to use different roads to get to their destinations.

Mist can also cause traffic, including buses, to slow down considerably, making them late.

If there is heavy rain, the bus may also need to take different roads to complete its route, especially if roads become flooded due to the rain’s added water. In some parts, the wind can also become so intense that vehicles must slow down to stay on the road.

Why The Bus Is Late: Severe Weather Conditions

  • Snow may cause roads to close
  • Floods and rain may cause roads to close
  • Buses need to slow down in bad weather
  • Mist may cause a loss of visibility

7. Passengers Take Too Long To Get On Or Off The Bus

As discussed, the more passengers there are on a bus, the longer it will take for the bus to make all of its necessary stops.

With this in mind, if passengers don’t want to be quick, this may cause that time to be longer. It is more common for passengers to hold up a bus when it is too full or late for a stop since there may be more passengers on the bus or more waiting to get picked up.

If passengers are a bit late, and a bus driver wants to save them the trouble of waiting long for another bus to pass, this can also cause the bus to veer off schedule.

Why The Bus Is Late: Passengers

  • Passengers come late
  • Passengers take too long to get on or off