Dead mileage

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For other uses, see deadhead (disambiguation).
A Maui Bus bus that has been taken Out of Service and is going back to the bus depot on a dead mileage run

Dead mileage, dead running or dead heading, in public transport, is when a public transit vehicle operates without carrying or accepting passengers, such as when coming from a garage to begin its first trip of the day. In this case the vehicle is said to be deadheading. It may also refer to the practice of carrying, free of charge, the transport company's own drivers on a normal passenger trip so that they can be in the right place to begin their duties. In this later case, the employee is said to be deadheading.

Similar terms in the UK include ECS (Empty coaching stock) move, DIT (Dead in tow) or "travelling pass", that is, travelling between workplaces by passenger train.

Deadheading vehicles[edit]


Dead mileage routinely occurs when a bus route starts or finishes in a location away from a bus garage or out-station, and the start or end of a shift requires driving the bus to and from the garage out of service. Dead mileage can also occur in cases where shift-break parking has to be undertaken in terminals away from the service route.

Effects and prevention[edit]

Dead mileage incurs costs for the operator in terms of non-revenue earning fuel use, wages, and a reduction in the utilisation of the driver's legal hours of driving.

Operators will often reduce dead mileage by starting or finishing the first or last service of the day, or shift, at a garage along the route, a so-called part service or part route. Dead mileage may also be reduced by the operation of routes specifically timed and routed to facilitate bus movements rather than passenger need.

Dead mileage has increasingly become an issue with privatised competition for bus services, most notable with the privatisation of London bus services, where competing operators have to factor on the cost of dead mileage when bidding for specific routes away from their main garages. This is exacerbated by not being allowed to operate a service that may match the dead mileage route. This can be lessened to an extent by tendering routes in groups of sufficient size to justify opening/renting new garage space.

Often operators will come to an arrangement to share garage facilities to reduce dead mileage.

Deadheading employees[edit]

People, as opposed to vehicles, are said to be deadheading when they are being moved to the place where their shift will start or end.

Notable deadheaders[edit]

Confidence trickster Frank Abagnale impersonated a pilot and supposedly deadheaded on more than 250 flights.[1]

One of the four survivors of Japan Airlines Flight 123 was a deadheading flight attendant, Yumi Ochiai. She helped administer oxygen to passengers after the plane suffered Explosive decompression. She survived because she was wedged between several seats during the crash, preventing her from suffering serious injury.

In 1994, on FedEx Flight 705, employee Auburn Calloway attempted to crash the plane on which he was deadheading, but was repelled by the combined efforts of the plane's crew.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Skywayman: The Story of Frank W. Abagnale Jr., by Rachel Bell,
  2. ^ True Crimes: The Man Who Hijacked a Cargo Jet, by Kara Kovalchik,