Plan vehicle storage facilities for efficient operations and to protect vehicles. Integrate maintenance and cleaning departments in bus depots.
Options to park vehicles can be:
In a bus depot where cleaning, maintenance etc. can also be provided (in smaller cities one “central” depot is the norm). The bus depot is used also for reserve (‘spare’) buses.
On special bus parking lots.
On turning points or on the street (at the end of the line).
There are two main criteria for overnight parking with respect to minimisation of empty vehicle kilometres; however, they are in opposition:
Parking of vehicles at a central depot reduces empty vehicle kilometres for performing maintenance and cleaning at the workshop (e.g. overnight).
Parking of vehicles at turning points reduces empty vehicle kilometres for the first morning and the last evening trip.
There are further criteria (e.g. security, open-air parking vs. under cover), which requires an analysis of the respective cost and benefits of each. Examples are:
In areas with colder climate conditions pre-heating facilities at a depot that minimise the warming up time in the morning should be considered. The vehicles start in the morning with pre-heated engines (no warming up time with high engine drag) and cabins (no passenger complaints that the bus is freezing cold on the first run).
Start and end point of the driver’s shift should be at the same place whenever possible.
Urban buses are predominantly parked in bus depots, which are also the maintenance and cleaning area, while in regional bus transport it is more often the case that the vehicles are parked on turning end points. At the depot vehicles can be parked:
In the open air (widespread e.g. in Belgium, Greece, Slovenia),
Under cover (widespread e.g. in the UK, Germany, Switzerland).
When parking the vehicles at turning points, the issue of security (vandalism, damage, fuel theft) arises. Furthermore, if the parking area at the turning point is a part of the public road or even a street in a residential area, there may be opposition from nearby residents.
Larissa (Greece): In Larissa (Figure 4-2) there is at the outskirts of the city a large area owned by the public transport operator where apart from overnight parking of the vehicles, facilities such as vehicle refuelling, maintenance and washing are also provided for all vehicles of the fleet.
Switzerland: In general the buses are parked in the bus depot overnight under cover because of the weather. Buses are generally cleaned every night and smaller maintenance actions can also been done in the early hours. Having the bus in the depot avoids acts of vandalism. The drivers usually start and end their work at the bus depot.
The Netherlands: In The Netherlands the bus depots are generally located centrally in the region served (minimising depot kilometres i.e. empty ride kilometres). Besides cleaning, repair services are also carried out at the depot.