Breaking down public transit travel time for more accurate transport equity policies: A trip component approach

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, mode - bus, mode - subway/metro, ridership - behaviour, policy - equity, planning - surveys, technology - intelligent transport systems


Access, Income, Transfers, Speed, Wait time, Travel time


In the Northern hemisphere, low-income transit users typically take shorter trips and use buses in a greater proportion, but there is limited knowledge on inequalities in the detailed characteristics of public transit trips.

In this paper, we seek to understand and explain differences in segment components of transit trips across socio-economic groups. Trip components include access time, wait time, total travel time, overall trip speed and percent of trip time spent in access and wait (off-vehicle time).

Using the Montreal metropolitan region travel survey (2013), we focus on the 46,186 transit trips made by 20,138 individuals for which household income was available. This data is augmented by time estimations of the aforementioned trip components, and combined with trips specific transit service measures calculated using General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS). We first assess the relationship between trip components and income using descriptive statistics. OLS regressions are then conducted to identify which individual and transport-based factors contribute to variations in trip component outcomes.

Low-income transit users take more transit trips (especially bus and Metro) than their higher income counterparts and combine multiple transit modes through more frequent transfers. While average access and wait time are individually lower than those for trips of wealthier respondents, low-income total trip time is similar but trip speed is considerably lower. Lower-income populations also spend a greater share of their trips in access and wait time due to service and trip discrepancies including trip timing, proximity to metro stations and requirement for transfers. When controlling for other factors, the conditions under which trips by low-income individuals are taken mainly drive income differences.


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


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