Predicting Bus Arrival Time on the Basis of Global Positioning System Data

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - traffic, planning - signage/information, technology - geographic information systems, mode - bus


Traffic data, Traffic conditions, Speed, Real time data processing, Mathematical prediction, GPS, Global Positioning System, GIS, Geographic information systems, Geocoding, Case studies, Arrival time (Bus transit), Algorithms, Accuracy


The ability to obtain accurate predictions of bus arrival time on a real-time basis is a vital element to both bus operations control and passenger information systems. Several studies had been devoted to this arrival time prediction problem; however, few resulted in completely satisfactory algorithms. This paper presents a new system that can be used to predict the expected bus arrival times at individual bus stops along a service route. The proposed prediction algorithm combines real-time location data from Global Positioning System receivers with average travel speeds of individual route segments, taking into account historical travel speed as well as temporal and spatial variations of traffic conditions. A geographic information system–based map-matching algorithm is used to project each received location onto the underlying transit network. The system is implemented as a finite state machine to ensure its regularity, stability, and robustness under a wide range of operating conditions. A case study on a real bus route is conducted to evaluate the performance of the proposed system in terms of prediction accuracy. The results indicate that the proposed system is capable of achieving satisfactory accuracy in predicting bus arrival times and perfect performance in predicting travel direction.