The adverse impact of headway variability on bus transit ridership: Evidence from Bengaluru, India

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - asia, place - urban, mode - bus, operations - frequency, ridership - demand, ridership - modelling


Demand-supply endogeneity, Direct demand models, Headway variability, Public transit in Indian cities, Public transportation, Transit ridership


This study examines the impact of bus service headway variability on bus transit ridership using direct demand models at different levels of spatial aggregation – route level and stop-route level – using transit demand and supply data from the city of Bengaluru, India. In addition, auxiliary models are developed to understand the determinants of service frequency and headway variability and to address the endogeneity of these service characteristics in the demand models. This is perhaps the first study in the public transit literature to compare and contrast the endogeneity and non-linearity effects of service frequency and headway variability in transit demand models using both a conceptual framework and empirical evidence from a large transit system. The empirical results offer evidence that variability in headways adversely impacts transit ridership and passenger-kilometres. The strength of the adverse effect increases with increasing variability. On the other hand, the influence of service frequency decreases with increasing frequency. Furthermore, it is shown conceptually and demonstrated empirically that ignoring the endogeneity of service variability results in an underestimation of its adverse effect on transit demand. On the other hand, the empirical results suggest that ignoring the endogeneity of service frequency would result in an overestimation of its beneficial effect. An important takeaway from these results and additional policy simulations is that transit agencies can potentially gain greater ridership and revenue by reducing headway variability rather than simply allocation more buses and crew to high-frequency routes.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


Transport Policy Home Page: