The layover, or the amount of time between when the bus arrives at the end of one trip and before it leaves for the next trip, is an often overlooked but essential aspect of bus scheduling. Layover provides two important benefits: one, it provides time to absorb late-running buses so that they can leave on time for the next trip, and two, for many transit agencies is provides the only amount of break time bus drivers receive. For more information about the layover please see here .
Where do we put the buses during their layover? Certainly they have to be out of a lane of traffic. And they need to be close to a restroom facility available whenever the bus route operates. When you consider that many people, especially homeowners, would instantly complain to their city council member if a bus suddenly hung out next to their house, it is actually quite difficult to locate suitable places. If parking spaces are going to be taken away then the city council may become incensed even without the aid of a disgruntled homeowner.
Layover problems can have significant deleterious impacts on the operation of a transit system. For example, the western ends of Los Angeles Metro Routes 164 and 165 had to be adjusted, in a way that removed service from a significant number of stops, in order to avoid using a layover location that had drawn the constant ire of a local homeowner. In addition, Metro's union contract has a very reasonable requirement that all layover locations have access to restroom facilities, which are known in transit parlance as "comfort zones".
It is hard enough to find enough space for one bus to layover; the difficulty becomes exponentially magnified when more than one bus will be there at the same time. This result usually happens only when several different routes are going to use the same layover or one route operates very frequently, usually every twelve minutes or more often. Sometimes short-turns will have to be created for the sole purpose of providing enough space for the buses to layover.
The take-home message for transit enthusiasts is that it is not enough to have a great idea for a new bus route, or even to know approximately how long the bus route will take to operate and therefore have an idea of the cost. Before a route can operate suitable layover locations must be identified.