If you live in a city with bus routes, and have done more than a little riding, then you may have noticed that the buses, like most other vehicles, tend to run late during rush hour. I submit that the cause of this is not the overall slower traffic than it is the sheer number of stops that a bus tends
to make, during rush hour to tak on and let off passengers. Many bus routes have extra buses added at rush hour, to help handle the extra passenger load, but this does nothing to solve the problem of people wanting to get on or off at almost every bust stop along a route.
So, here is my suggestion: First mark every bus with one of two identifying symbols, say horizontal stripes and vertical stripes. Mark every bus stop along a route, alternately, with those symbols. When it is NOT rush hour, every bus may stop at any bus stop, in the normal way (approximately every city block). It is because that it is NOT rush hour, that the buses generally stop at only a fraction of all possible stops, and so the bus schedule is maintained.
DURING rush hour, buses can only stop at matching symbols (obviously, every two city blocks). That is, a bus marked with horizontal stripes can only stop at stops marked with horizontal stripes. For the passengers, this means at most walking just one extra city block, to get to (or away from) an appropriate bus stop. Now I realize that Murphy's Law will cause many people to not know which marked bus is due to arrive next, and therefore those people will be waiting at the wrongly marked bus stop. SOME of that problem can be alleviated by having schedules posted at every stop. But some is also alleviated by what was written above, about extra buses running during rush hour. For example, if the normal bus schedule is once per hour at a given stop, then during rush hour it may be every half-hour, thanks to the extra buses. The net effect is that even if people do stand at the wrong stop, for the CURRENT bus passing them by, the NEXT bus, marked with the other symbol, will pick them up in only half an hour!
In conclusion, the overall transportation effect is that each bus will probably take a little longer at each stop, loading/unloading passengers, but will save time by not accelerating/decellerating as often, while making numerous stops. The bus will spend more time at the speed of the traffic, and will be more likely to maintain the schedule, just as if it wasn't rush hour.
Addendum, March 17, 2003
It has occurred to me that the buses could skip 2/3 of all stops, with no significantly greater inconvenience to the passengers. Consider this:
Stop Pass Stop Pass Stop Pass Stop Pass Stop Pass
Stop Pass Pass Stop Pass Pass Stop Pass Pass Stop
See, in either case, if a passenger walks up to a place
where the next bus will pass, then the distance to an alternate neighboring place, where the bus will stop, is the same. (Yeah, most people will first walk over to the wrong alternate place, but afterwards, they will remember!) This variation of the idea would probably work best by NOT having the buses do leapfrog. Instead, every stop is marked to indicate that it is a Rush Hour Stop, or it is marked to show which way to walk to the nearest Rush Hour Stop :) The doubled number of buses during rush hour would continue, of course.