Scientist's study shows that 80% of Leeds buses are late

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A frustrated commuter so fed up with his bus being late that he carried out an in-depth study into Leeds's live timetables, and found that around 80 per cent are wrong at any given time.

Scientist Dr Ben Hanson, who works as a researcher at the University of Leeds and relies on the city transport daily, is so sick of buses not turning up when they should that he began collecting data from two busy city lines as a personal project.

He looked at the number 72 bus – a central commuter line between Leeds and Bradford – and the number six from Holt Park which is a major student transport link.

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And he found that the digital arrival times displayed at bus stops are wildly inaccurate.

Ben Hanson carried out his own study because he was so fed up of the buses being late.Ben Hanson carried out his own study because he was so fed up of the buses being late.
Ben Hanson carried out his own study because he was so fed up of the buses being late.

He said: “It's common knowledge that Leeds buses are bad, in terms of frequency but perhaps more importantly, accuracy.

"Everyone has a horror story of being late, missing connecting trains and buses. However, as yet, a robust statistical analysis has not been performed.

"Buses are a vital part of the Leeds transport network.

"In the absence of trams, buses are what we need to better optimise travel around the Leeds area, and to get more cars off of the local roads to protect our environment.

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The digital signs show that 80 per cent of the buses are late.The digital signs show that 80 per cent of the buses are late.
The digital signs show that 80 per cent of the buses are late.

"To do this the bus service must be reliable, and currently, it simply isn't.”

Mr Hanson found a bizarre trend that when the buses get closer to their stops, the expected arrival times on the display boards become more inaccurate.

He says this is regardless of traffic flow or any other external factors.

He said: “It’s just annoying because it’s not the frequency of buses, it’s the inaccuracy.

"I wasn’t shocked by what I found, it was expected.

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"I’d say that 80 per cent of buses are not arriving on time.

"I’m not suggesting it’s intentional, they are just dropping the ball."

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He says that by simply hiring the right person, the problem could be easily rectified and restore some faith to commuters who already have little confidence in public transport.

"It needs fixing,” he added.

"They just need to hire a data scientist and it could be made accurate.

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"Using exactly the same data scraping and analysis methods I have used here, live times could be accurately predicted and adjusted based on previously-measured arrival times.

“Doing this could only be a benefit to everyone involved.

“Customers would be able to accurately predict buses and plan their day around it, and bus companies, as they would reduce their negative press and their drivers would be treated better.”

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority, which seeks to improve the region’s transport, say the live tracker generates more than 2 million messages every day, displayed at more than 2,500 on-street and bus station displays, after tracking hundreds of buses approaching 14,000 stops.

A spokesman said: “We and our partners recognise the importance of reliability and accurate information for people who use the bus. We continuously monitor its accuracy and update both the hardware and software to refine the arrival time predictions.

“We’d like to thank Ben for the summary of his analysis into these two stops, and hope that he can share his research with us to help us ensure the system is as accurate as we can get it."