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In the UK I have never seen a public bus system that allows you to take a (non-folding) bike on the bus. (There are long distance coaches that do allow bikes, however I am asking about local busses.)

I know that some other places have buses with bike racks.

  • Where are the buses that have bike racks?
  • How common is it for buses to have bike racks?

In summary:

On some UK buses you may be able to put a single bike in the wheelchair space, ask the driver nicely.

In the US there seems to be lots of buses with bike racks on the front or back. Mostly these racks can take no more than two bikes. I was not expecting the land of the car too have better provision then the UK!

No where can you depend on being able to put your bike on a bus (due to lack of space).

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Converted to wiki. One area per answer, please. –  Neil Fein Oct 15 '10 at 19:01
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@neilfein: One system per answer, or maybe one area per answer? The San Francisco bay area has something like 40 overlapping systems and I wouldn't really want to see one entry for each of those, so I made a single entry for all of them. –  freiheit Oct 15 '10 at 20:12
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Why take a local bus when you have a bike? –  jilles de wit Oct 16 '10 at 23:04
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@jillesdewit to get to your LBS with a broken bike! –  dieKleene Sep 27 '13 at 18:28
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34 Answers 34

The MBTA in Boston has bike racks on a fairly substantial number of the busses (70%, according to the web page), though I haven't used them yet as I'm much more likely to take the train, which allows bikes outside of peak hours.

The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority in Western Massachusetts (Amherst/Northampton area, with several colleges) has bike racks on their busses. I used those occasionally when the weather turned bad or I needed to carry more than I could take on my bike.

Advance Transit in the Upper Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire (Hanover, NH, White River Junction, VT, the Dartmouth College area) had bike racks on their busses. I also used these occasionally when living up there.

That covers all of the areas that I'm personally familiar with. I have thus never lived in area that doesn't have bike racks on busses (or at least, doesn't have them now; I don't believe the MBTA had them when I was growing up).

Even busses with bike racks can only carry two bikes at once, which means that if many people use them, you may need to wait a while before finding a bus with space, and some of them have restrictions (such as not on express busses, or not when the busses are replacing a train). In general, I find it's best not to rely on being able to take bikes on public transit, but use it as a backup option for when the weather turns bad, you have an injury, or something of the sort, and you still want to take your bike home.

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San Francisco Bay Area

(anything in the 9 counties. Making this community wiki, so please add the ones you know. For those of you outside the bay area, it's 9 counties and about 40 different public transit agencies and there's all kinds of interlinks/transfer opportunities between them, so I think one big answer for all of the SF bay area might be the best way to present the information):

  • BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit; light rail / subway connecting most, but not all of the bay area counties) — bikes are allowed on most trains, except certain ones during commute hours, or if the train is full. Folding cycles are always allowed. http://www.bart.gov/guide/bikes/bikeRules.aspx
  • SF Muni (light rail, buses, cable cars, etc within the city of San Francisco) — Racks on the front of most buses, but not any of the other vehicle types. Folding cycles not allowed on any. http://www.sfmta.com/cms/bcomm/BikesonMuni.htm
  • Golden Gate Transit (GGT, crosses the Golden Gate bridge to connect San Francisco to the two counties north and also ferry service between Larkspur and SF) — racks on the front of some buses and racks underneath on others. Ferries allow a limited number of bikes.
  • AC Transit (Alameda country, with transbay buses to SF) — All busses have bike racks that hold two (or three on newer buses!) bikes on the front. Some also have storage space below that can hold (officially) 2 more bikes.
  • Caltrain (rail between SF and Santa Clara) — special cars for the bikes. Folding cycles allowed. http://www.caltrain.com/riderinfo/Bicycles/Bicycle_General_Info.html
  • Samtrans (buses between SF and San Mateo) — racks on buses and rules sometimes allowing bikes on bus. http://www.samtrans.org/bikes.html
  • Sonoma County Transit (primarily connects cities within Sonoma County and also provides local transit for some cities in the county) — racks on the front of every bus. Most racks accomodate 3 bikes, some only 2. If the rack is full and there's room on board, a couple bikes can go on board.
  • Santa Rosa CityBus — Bike racks with 2 spots on the front. Can put bike in the wheelchair area if rack is full but bus isn't full.
  • VTA Bus (Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority Busses; Covers the South Bay Area) — racks on the front of every bus. Racks accomodates 2 bikes. If the rack is full 2 bikes are allowed inside, at the driver's discretion. http://www.vta.org/bike_information/bikes_on_transit.html
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Nice summary of a bunch here (entered a few already): sfmta.com/cms/bcomm/39544.html –  freiheit Oct 15 '10 at 20:55
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Just for clarity, even though SF Muni does operate both light rail and buses, bikes are only allowed on buses with bike racks, no bikes at all are allowed on light rail trains. VTA does allow bikes on their light rail vehicles (up to 6 per light rail vehicle - 4 hung on racks, 2 on the floor). –  Johnny Nov 20 '12 at 18:11
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Portland, Oregon

  • Busses have bike racks mounted on the front of the bus. A rider just needs to let the bus driver know at the stop that they wish to load/unload the bike. All busses have racks. Bikes do not go inside the bus. The racks hold 2 bikes.
  • The light rail cars have a section with hooks to hang bikes + an open area that allows for a few bikes. I forget, but I think 4 or 5 bikes can go in the bike accessible cars. There is a restriction in that bikes are only allowed if room is available.
  • Streetcars also have a designated bike area limited by room available.

http://trimet.org/howtoride/bikes/index.htm

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Columbus, OH

bike mounts on the front of the bus and runs specials like 'Bring a Bike ride for Free' and the buses do an almost protective job with the bikers.

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Brisbane (Australia) used to allow bikes to be carried on special racks at the back, though I believe that this is no longer available.

Canberra (Australia) Similarly there are some routes that let you put a bike on a special rack on the rear of the bus.

I also found a link to an interesting site that covers some other cities in the world, as well as this one that covers bikes and public transport interactions.

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Vancouver (BC) Translink has roughly the following rules for bikes on transit:

  • All buses have a bike rack on the front for 2 bikes.
  • Bikes are allowed on the Canada Line skytrain at any time. (There is a bike specific area in each car
  • The seabus allows bikes at any time.
  • Expo and Millenium line skytrains allow one bike per car during 'off' hours. In other words, you are allowed a bike heading downtown at any time other than 7-9AM weekdays. You are allowed to take a bike heading away from downtown at any time other than 4-6PM weekdays
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Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

From the Milwaukee Country Transit System website:

All Milwaukee County Transit System buses are now equipped with bike racks which are simple to use. This will make it even easier to leave your car at home for your commute, head out to explore Milwaukee County Parks and bike trails, or enjoy a bike ride on your lunch break. Each rack holds two bikes and use is free with your bus fare.

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Seattle, Washington and environs

  • Nearly all King County Metro and Metro-operated Sound Transit buses are equipped with three-bike racks. Folding bikes are allowed on the bus. Non-conventional (trike/recumbent) bikes are not supported, and neither are bicycles with front racks that do not allow the rack's hook to sit atop the front wheel.
  • One exception to the above is empty, dead-heading buses across the 520 Evergreen Point Floating Bridge between Seattle and Redmond (aka Microsoft) - the bridge has no bicycle facilities and a large number of commuters; drivers have been known to let passengers bring their bikes aboard. The Microsoft dedicated shuttle may have reduced this behavior, however.
  • The Sound Transit Express buses are equipped with two-bike racks.
  • The Link light rail trains have two bicycle hooks per train, plus room for standing bicycles. There have been some complaints about the stated limit of four bicycles per car and the categorization of the bike hook area as 'first-come, first-served luggage storage'.

One of the main reasons for the King County Metro bus-bike system was the 1991 passage of the ISTEA, which allowed the county to receive a nearly $1 million grant to add bicycle racks to every bus. This and later sources of federal funding have also been used to update other systems in the US.

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Delaware -- DART claims that all its buses have bike racks (they confirmed this when I called them). I recently rode one of their buses with a bike, and this particular bus didn't have a rack. I had to put my bike in the luggage compartment under the bus; this is apparently standard procedure. The bike rattles around in there as the bus moves, and there's other luggage loose in the same compartment.

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In Hebden Bridge, UK (and the surrounding area) the 'Hebden Bridger' buses have a bike rack on the back of them.

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Washington DC

WMATA buses have a bike rack on the front.

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Dallas Area

Most of the Buses in the Rapid Transit system have bike racks on the buses and you can take your bicycle into the cars on the Light Rail System.

Information is Here at the Dart Website

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Chicago

Allows bikes on a rack at the front of the bus. I see it used quite often. Bikes are also allowed on the trains but not during peak travel times. Chicago's current mayor is a big bike advocate. He is not running for re-election so we'll have to wait and see if the next one is as bike friendly.

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The Netherlands

Bikes are allowed on all trains, except during rush hour (7-9 in the morning, 16-18 in the afternoon). But usually you can get away with it during those times anyway.

For high speed trains (ICE, Thalys) you need to get a ticket for your bike, for international travel it sometimes is difficult.

There are no local busses that allow or even have space for bikes, but most local distances are better done by bike anyway.

Folding bikes are considered luggage and allowed on all public transport.

Bikes are difficult to get onto what subway systems we have, but I think no-one will stop you if you try.

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UK

There are some local services that carry bikes - but in the case local to me the utility of the implementation is questionable for regular use.

UK trains are bike-friendly, e.g. East Coast rails let you take a bike for free with any standard ticket.

North East England

Go North East (part of the Go Ahead Group) has a service that will carry one bicycle inside the bus - this is the service between Consett and Sunderland details here

In terms of "how common" - in theory all the buses on that service should be able to carry a bike however only the buses dedicated to that route have the bike specific kit.

Scotland

No bikes allowed on the stage coach buses. At times when I've had to transfer my bike for repair, I've taken off the wheels. In my experience most bus drivers will let you take the frame, albeit grumpily.

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Baltimore, Maryland

Bicycles are permitted on the light rail and the metro, except if it's very crowded - which generally corresponds with when there is an Orioles or Ravens game happening. Almost every light rail, metro, and MARC stop has bike racks at the stop.

MTA buses have racks that can fit 2 bikes. A bicycle is not allowed on board.

MARC trains permit only folding bicycles.

More info: http://mta.maryland.gov/sites/default/files/MTA-Bicycles-Brochure-2011.pdf

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In general though, for local services, wouldn't it be more efficient to, erm, cycle yourself?

That said most buses in London have space to carry prams, wheelchairs and so on. In theory they can carry bikes too, although it's rarely seen.

Quite often this carry space is at the discretion of the driver - many times the mother of the second or third pushchair to arrive is refused entry because they've already got the limit. Some drivers are more flexible than others.

I did once see it though, it was a rainy day and someone had punctured and the driver took pity on him. I presume that if a wheelchair wanted to then get on, though, that the cyclist might have been unlucky ...

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It's a great incentive to commute by bike - people think, what if I get a puncture, or hurt myself or it snows. With this you can always take the bus. It's like the schemes where companies offer free taxis to people who ride share if they have to work late. –  mgb Oct 20 '10 at 16:33
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Madison, Wisconsin

All Madison Metro buses have bike racks. Tell the driver as you leave the bus that you'll be taking your bike off.

Bikes are not allowed inside the bus.

More info: http://www.cityofmadison.com/Metro/planyourtrip/bikeRacks.cfm

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Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota, USA) has a bike rack for two bikes on all buses. If the rack is full, the driver may give permission to bring your bike inside the bus. The bike racks are used pretty frequently: it's not unusual at all to see a bus with a bike or two on the front.

http://www.metrotransit.org/bicycle.aspx

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Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

All the main routes have front mounted bike racks. The secondary routes have them on most (but not all) buses.

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Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Ottawa has what they refer to as their rack and roll programme. Most major cross-city routes have racks. They also let you take your bike on the O-Train. In my experience it's often common to see buses without racks when they should have them, although I haven't consistently used them for a few years so things may have gotten better. It is common for the bike racks to be full during rush hour if you get on too far into the route.

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In Norway

The Oslo Area

#Ruter allows you to bring a bike on the bus as long as it isn't troubling other passengers. Most busses have room for strollers, wheelchairs and bikes.You have to pay a child ticket for the bike.

I believe most public transport companies in Norway follow the same practice. I even brought a moped on the bus a couple of times.

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Port Authority of Allegheny County which serves Pittsburgh, PA and surrounding areas has bike racks on all busses and allows bikes on light rail cars and incline rail (funicular).

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Cleveland, Ohio

All buses have racks for 2-3 bikes. The RTA (trains) permit bikes, based on operator discretion.

http://www.riderta.com/racknroll

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Toledo, OH, USA TARTA has bike mounts on the front of their buses.

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New Zealand

Intercity took our bikes as long as there was some space in the cargo hold. The rule there is that the driver gets to decide wether your bike goes on (depending on available space), so it helps to remove the pedals and turn your handlebars and cover the oily bits, but this is not always necessary. Most divers were very friendly and will make sure your bike is properly placed to avoid damage to it.

One time they even went so far as to exchange a small passenger van for a full-size bus for 10 people just so our bikes could get on.

Note that these are not local busses.

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Stockholm, Sweden

I have put a bike in suburban train. If I rembember correctly, this is not allowed during peak times.

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Spain

Bikes can go on all trains except the high-speed trains (though I've heard of exceptions to the latter).

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Toulouse, France

Bikes are allowed in the tram, except during rush hours.

Bikes are also allowed in the suburban train, including during rush hours.

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Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

A number of Metro Transit buses have a fold-down rack on the front that will hold up to 2 bikes, and most of the time they seem to be empty.

There is a guide to using the racks, and the routes with bike racks can be identified on the transit schedules page.

You can also take your bike on either of the Dartmouth-Halifax harbour ferries.

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