Investigating Consistency in Transit Passenger Arrivals: Insights from Longitudinal Automated Fare Collection Data

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - rail


Waiting time, Travel time, Travel behavior, Transit users, Rail transit, Melbourne (Australia), Journey time, Departure time, Commuters, Automatic fare collection, Automatic data collection systems, Arrivals and departures, Arrival time


Waiting for public transit is recognized as being more onerous than travel time itself. Previous research established that transit passengers in one group “target” their arrival at a time shortly before the service is scheduled. Another group of passengers, seemingly unaffected by timetable schedules, arrives randomly. The time of day plus transit service characteristics, such as headway and reliability, affects the split of passengers between these groups. Little is known about the longitudinal aspects of the nonrandom arrival behavior. This paper assesses the day-to-day consistency of transit users’ arrival behavior by analyzing the longitudinal automated fare collection system data for heavy rail services in Melbourne, Australia. It makes further distinctions between transit users that have until now been categorized into random or nonrandom arrival behavior. Four archetypal arrival behaviors are derived. Consistency of arrival behavior is quantified and investigated. Heterogeneity is an overriding feature of transit commuters’ longitudinal behavior. Transit users exhibiting a greater amount of consistency are found to arrive closer to the transit’s time-tabled time, use fewer scheduled services, and travel earlier in the peak. A systematic difference in arrival behavior is found for users of a terminus station.