Where do buses go? Part 2

In January, I asked the question,  "Where do buses go?" and mentioned a new housing estate in Exeter which had no bus service.  I questioned what principles and guidelines the bus company would follow in deciding to provide a regular service to such a large new development, leading on to questions about how OR might contribute to the information about such decisions.  

  I didn't name the new estate; so I can't claim any responsibility for the fact that earlier this month, the bus company announced that it would introduce a bus service to the new estate - it is the "J" service on the city bus map.   Here's a link to the news story

 On the other hand, this month has seen controversy in Devon, because one of the services between Exeter and other towns in the county has been rerouted, and no longer serves the intervening villages regularly.  The general manager was on the radio, and said that the withdrawal from the villages was in response to requests to make the journey time between the towns and Exeter a little shorter.  That management team had not received comments from the villagers - who had (naturally) assumed  that their service would continue (People who are satisfied do not comment on their service!)

After that earlier blog was published, I had a reminder that there is a 40 year-old paper on OR's contribution to bus scheduling in Delhi, published in the New Scientist magazine, (Jon Tinker, "How Delhi made the buses run on time" (New Scientist p64-66, 9 January 1975) which has been reproduced in "Selected readings in operational research for developing countries" edited by G. M. Luck and G. Walsham (1972).  If you find this slim paperback book for sale on the internet, the price may surprise you.  (Today I found two copies, one at £75, the other at £125)  

In addition, a great deal of OR work has been done by bus companies using OR for crew and vehicle scheduling.  Beijing and London used a lot of OR for transport scheduling for their Olympic Games in 2008 and 2012.  But my question was about decisions about routes, not their schedules.


  1. I hope that they have the proper routing for this year to make no more bothersome hassles and confusion among the villagers and the tourists. I plan to stay at holiday cottages in Devon and will be commuting like a villager. I wiah I won't have a hard time.

  2. The main problem that has been mentioned is for the service between Okehampton and Exeter; some of the daily services use the "new" A30 and miss out the villages on the "old " A30. The greatest concern was expressed by those who work 9 to 5 in Okehampton, who lost their commuter buses. It seems that the company placed more weight on comments from potential passengers than on data about the actual passengers. A lesson for many businesses - do not neglect your current customers, understand them, and encourage them to stick with you. As someone has said in another context, "it costs ten times as much to get a new customer as it does to maintain an existing one".


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