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April 5, 2007 5:06 PM   Subscribe

How are the route numbers selected for public transit?

As someone who rides the bus to and from school each day, I spend a lot of time standing at bus stops and waiting. A question that I keep coming back to is how the numbers are selected for bus routes.

I realize that it's possible that they are random, or start from 1 and just go in order, but I don't think it's that simple. What leads me to believe there is something more going on, is that sometimes route numbers change (even if the route doesn't change). Also, the transit systems with which I am most familiar (St. Catharines Transit, TTC, and Mississauga Transit) are all missing numbers. This could be that a route once existed but has been cancelled, I suppose. I'm also curious because there are routes like 12A and 12B, but the two routes are very different, so I wonder why they're both route 12s.

I've tried Google and searching MeFi, but nothing came up. Any ideas?
posted by gursky to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Every city is different. Belleville, Ontario, numbers its routes from 1 (to 9!). Ottawa, Ontario nearly explains theirs here (and yes, missing numbers are retired routes, and numbers in the wrong section like 101/102 are those which were originally in the "right" section but have since had their route modified to fit better in another.)

Ottawa doesn't do 12A/12B, but it does have "X" routes, which are probably the same thing: 90% of the 95X's route is identical to 95's route, but the remaining 10% (usually all at one end or another) is different. Typically the 95X won't go all the way to the end of the route.

Hong Kong's is by region and type. London's are all over the place thanks to a long history. This roadgeek seems to have some history on TTC numbering.

In short, metro bus systems often break up the kind of route, or the area, in the hundreds digit, and beyond that there's no consistent rhyme or reason city to city (or even within a city).
posted by mendel at 5:22 PM on April 5, 2007


The real answer here is, of course, "it depends." But sometimes it makes sense. On the south side of Chicago, for instance, the 43 runs down 43rd street, the 47 down 47th, the 51 down 51st, etc.
posted by epugachev at 5:36 PM on April 5, 2007


Manhattan is like Chicago. The 86 drives down 86th Street and the 67 goes down 67th Street. Here's a PDF map.
posted by daninnj at 6:00 PM on April 5, 2007


Pittsburgh's are generally labeled with two numbers and a letter (61c, 43b and so on).

The first number is based on its direction relative to the Allegheny River (from 0 - 9 counter clockwise). The second refers to the type of bus (4 and 9 are crosstown, 1 and 7 are local, 3 and 8 are express or something like that). The letters are either random or alphabetically added or removed and replaced or who knows what.

Nagasaki's bus system has busses 1 - 9 for inbound, and 10, 20, 30 etc for outbound. I think they're numbered based on some specific point they come to in town (perhaps), but I never really figured it out. Nagasaki is not a non-Japanese-friendly bus town. You really have to look at the number and where it goes to have any hope, and I'm pretty sure there wasn't much English.
posted by that girl at 6:13 PM on April 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


I bet this guy would know if you emailed him.
posted by jamesonandwater at 6:48 PM on April 5, 2007


Manhattan is like Chicago. The 86 drives down 86th Street and the 67 goes down 67th Street.

And yet the M15 goes up First. So sometimes it makes sense.
posted by dame at 7:07 PM on April 5, 2007


Many thanks!

I'm not sure why I find this so interesting, but I'd love to hear from more people even though I got what I was hoping for.
posted by gursky at 9:17 PM on April 5, 2007


And yet the M15 goes up First.

And the M60 goes to LaGuardia.

I think the New York subway lines that are lettered use a different type of rolling stock from those that are numbered (I'm pretty sure the numbered lines include at least one shuttle), and neither type can be used on the other line.

TTC routes 1, 2, 3, and 4 are the Yonge-University-Spadina, Bloor-Danforth, Scarborough RT, and Sheppard lines, respectively.
posted by oaf at 10:50 PM on April 5, 2007


I think the New York subway lines that are lettered use a different type of rolling stock from those that are numbered (I'm pretty sure the numbered lines include at least one shuttle), and neither type can be used on the other line.

Numbered lines (the A Division) were originally part of the IRT, and lettered lines (the B Division) were originally part of the BMT or IND. They have the same rail gauge but the B Division trains have a larger loading gauge, so they can't fit in A Division stations.
posted by grouse at 3:49 AM on April 6, 2007


In Houston, there are three sets of numbering for the Metro bus lines: Single and double-digit for the "local" routes - those that stop every other block on surface streets; 100-199 for the "express" routes - those that run mostly on surface streets but make limited stops on dogleg roots; and then the 200 and above for the "park and ride" commuter routes. The numbers don't make much "sense" beyond that.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:05 AM on April 6, 2007


In Albuquerque, bus route 66 goes along Central Avenue, which is the old - yeah, you guessed it - Route 66.
posted by wanderingmind at 3:33 PM on May 2, 2007


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