Transit agencies have begun to provide real-time information (RTI) to riders via mobile and web-enabled devices as a method to address reliability issues. However, it is typically cost-prohibitive for transit agencies to fund custom development of native mobile apps for all popular smartphone platforms. As a result, few cities have full app portfolios that cover all smartphone platforms.
This National Center for Transit Research (NCTR) research project focused on the implementation of the OneBusAway multi-region architecture that enables the rapid expansion of native mobile transit apps on Android, iPhone, Windows Phone, and Windows 8 to new cities. Tampa, FL was chosen as an initial pilot deployment site for OneBusAway multi-region in early 2013, with a successful public launch in August 2013. Since this time, OneBusAway has spread to Atlanta, GA, Washington, D.C., York, Canada, and UC Berkeley, CA. View a webinar about OneBusAway multi-region project, including how to make OneBusAway available in your city, here. This work was also published in the Journal of Public Transportation.
As part of the OneBusAway Tampa pilot, an experiment was conducted – 200 users were given access to OneBusAway, while another 200 were monitored as a control group without access to OneBusAway. The results show that the primary benefits associated with providing RTI to passengers pertain to waiting at the bus stop. Analysis of “usual” wait times revealed a significantly larger decrease (nearly 2 minutes) for RTI users compared to the control group. Additionally, RTI users had significant decreases in levels of anxiety and frustration when waiting for the bus compared to the control group. Similarly, they had significant increases in levels of satisfaction with the time they spend waiting for the bus and how often the bus arrives at the stop on time. Taken together, these findings provide strong evidence that RTI significantly improves the passenger experience of waiting for the bus, which is notoriously one of the most disliked elements of transit trips. View a recorded webinar about this experiment here. This study was also published in Transportation Research Part A.
This project was done in partnership with Georgia Tech’s National Center for Transportation Productivity and Management and Dr. Candace Brakewood and Dr. Kari Watkins.
New OneBusAway Region Checklist:
If you want to set up OneBusAway in your city, here’s what you’ll need:
- Transit Data in General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) format
- AVL system that provides arrival estimates
- Implement a real-time feed in one of the formats that OneBusAway supports (includes GTFS-realtime and SIRI)
- Set up a OneBusAway Server
- Do some quality-control testing
- Launch OneBusAway apps in a new city (email onebusaway-developers group with the request)!
Contact Sean J. Barbeau at barbeau (at) cutr.usf.edu with questions!
- Sean J. Barbeau. “OneBusAway Multi-Region – Rapidly Expanding Mobile Transit Apps to New Cities,” CUTR Webcast. April 17, 2014.
- Candace Brakewood. “Evaluating the Impacts of Real-Time Transit Information in Tampa and Atlanta”, CUTR Webcast. August 8th, 2014.
- Candace Brakewood, Sean Barbeau, Kari Watkins. “An experiment evaluating the impacts of real-time transit information on bus riders in Tampa, Florida”, Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Volume 69, November 2014, Pages 409-422, ISSN 0965-8564, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tra.2014.09.003.
- Sean J. Barbeau, Alan Borning, Kari Watkins. “OneBusAway Multi-region: Rapidly expanding mobile transit apps to new cities,” Journal of Public Transportation – Vol. 17 No. 4 (2014).
- Candace Brakewood, Kari Watkins, Sean J. Barbeau. “Evaluating the Impacts of Real-Time Transit Information on Bus Riders in Tampa, Florida,” 2014 APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference, Kansas City, MO, May 4-7, 2014.
- Sean J. Barbeau, Shannon Haney, Walt Lenz. “OneBusAway – Improving Customer Service via Mobile Apps,” 2014 FPTA/FDOT/CUTR Professional Development Workshop and Transit Safety Summit, Tampa, FL, June 4, 2014.
- Sean J. Barbeau, Tatu Saloranta. “Performance Evaluation of Transit Data Formats on a Mobile Device,” 2014 ITS World Congress, Detroit, MI, September 9th, 2014.
- Sean J. Barbeau. “Open Data in Public Transport: Challenges and Opportunities”, 2014 ITS World Congress, Detroit, MI, September 9th, 2014.