Measuring risk of missing transfers in public transit systems using high-resolution schedule and real-time bus location data

New paper: Liu, L. and Miller, H.J. (2020) “Measuring risk of missing transfers in public transit systems using high-resolution schedule and real-time bus location data,” Urban Studies  (Special issue on Big Data in the City)  https://doi.org/10.1177/0042098020919323

Abstract: The emergence of urban Big Data creates new opportunities for a deeper understanding of transportation within cities, revealing patterns and dynamics that were previously hidden. Public transit agencies are collecting and publishing high-resolution schedule and real-time vehicle location data to help users schedule trips and navigate the system. We can use these data to generate new insights into public transit delays, a major source of user dissatisfaction. Leveraging open General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) and administrative Automatic Passenger Counter (APC) data, we develop two measures to assess the risk of missing bus route transfers and the consequent time penalties due to delays. Risk of Missing Transfers (RoMT) measures the empirical probability of missed transfers, and Average Total Time Penalty (ATTP) shows overall time loss compared to the schedule. We apply these measures to data from the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), a public transit agency serving the Columbus, Ohio, USA metropolitan area. We aggregate, visualise and analyse these measures at different spatial and temporal resolutions, revealing patterns that demonstrate the heterogeneous impacts of bus delays. We also simulate the impacts of dedicated bus lanes reducing missing risk and time penalties. Results demonstrate the effectiveness of measures based on high-resolution schedule and real-time vehicle location data to assess the impacts of delays and to guide planning and decision making that can improve on-time performance.

Keywords:  automatic passenger counter data, General Transit Feed Specification data, public transit, risk of missing transfer

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