Bus stops should be spaced to balance accessibility and efficiency of the bus service and to provide ‘paired’ bus stops for services running in opposite directions.

Optimal distance between bus stops

The optimal distance from one bus stop to the next depends on a wide variety of factors that have to be balanced but is usually 250–800m (see table below).

A more frequent stopping pattern is appropriate around major trip generators (usually in town or city centres) and important community facilities (for example, places of employment, places of education and hospitals). Locate bus stops as close as possible to these major trip generators and important community facilities. Good practice bus stop location and spacing is illustrated in the figure below.

Good practice principles for bus stop spacing and location. (Source: Auckland Transport Engineering Design Code Public Transport Bus Infrastructure) View larger image [PNG, 85 KB]

Auckland Transport Engineering Design Code Public Transport Bus Infrastructure (external link)

For buses to offer people an attractive and viable alternative to private cars, bus stop spacing design must consider and balance the street’s place and movement functions and passenger demand for the stop. Bus journey times are affected by the number of stops on a route – the more stops, the more choice, but the longer journey duration. Bus stop spacing is also a factor in accessibility – how far people are expected to walk between stops.

To achieve optimal spacing, carefully balance passengers’ need to get to and from bus stops easily with their need for an efficient service (that is, one that doesn’t stop too often). The table below provides guidance on bus stop spacing in different locations.

Table: Bus stop spacing guidance

Location of bus stop

Recommended spacing between stops


Urban area


Most people in the bus service catchment area have about a 5-minute walk to or from the nearest bus stop.

Very densely populated area


Higher density residential areas have higher demand for bus stops. Spacing may be less than 400m but should be no less than 250m.

Rapid transit route


Spacing is usually about 800m, because in areas with higher quality bus services people are more likely to be willing to walk a bit further for a better level of service.

Lower density area

800m or more

In lower density areas such as rural areas, spacing can be increased up to 800m or more due to low passenger volumes and long distances between properties.

You do not have to comply with the recommendations in the table above, but should determine bus stop spacing based on:

  • the location of major trip generators, community facilities and other key land uses
  • people’s identified needs
  • locations being safe for buses to stop and for people to get on and off.

For example:

  • bus stops may need to be spaced less than 400m apart to be conveniently located near key land uses, where pedestrian connectivity is poor (such as where there is high severance issues), or where land topology dictates (such as on hills or in steep areas)
  • where the trip generator on a bus route has multiple access points for pedestrians, the walking network will be predictive in determining bus stop spacing.

For more information on bus stop spacing, see:

Bus stop pairing

Bus stops should be provided in pairs, that is, with inbound and outbound stops are near each other. Where possible, pairs should be staggered in a ‘tail to tail’ arrangement on opposite sides of the road, as shown in the figure below (and, ideally some crossing facility provided between the stops).

Pairing in a tail-to-tail arrangement compared with a pair of bus stops directly opposite each other has safety and operational benefits. It minimises the potential conflict between overtaking vehicles at the bus stops.

The separation distance between paired stops for a stopped bus to be safely overtaken depends on:

  • road width (for example, the wider the road, the shorter the separation distance can be)
  • speed limit (for example, the faster the limit, the longer the separation distance should be)
  • the opportunity and need to provide a safe crossing point.
Diagram of a road showing a bus stop near opposite end of each other

Tail-to-tail bus stop arrangement View larger image [JPG, 17 KB]

The figure above is illustrative only and does not show a crossing, but as discussed in the walking access and bus stops near intersections sections of the PTDG, one should be provided, ideally between the stops, to support passengers to cross behind the buses.

The length of the no stopping lines on the approach to bus stops (shown in the figure above) depends on the visibility requirements at the kerb crossings. For example, curvature of a road may impact sightlines.

More guidance on planning crossings for bus stops is provided the following chapters:

For advice about the type of pedestrian crossing appropriate in different contexts, see:

Pedestrian Network Guidance