Smart feeder/shuttle bus service: Consumer research and design

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus


While long-haul express transit is gaining ridership, consumers are increasingly experiencing limited access to express transit due to saturated parking at and around stations. The smart shuttle concept was introduced to provide easy access to express transit. Smart shuttles will be equipped with advanced public transit system technologies to track shuttle vehicle locations and disseminate up-to-the-minute shuttle arrival information to consumers. The first step toward deployment of the smart shuttle service was a market study of short-haul feeders. This article presents the results of a telephone survey of randomly-generated Castro Valley households. Castro Valley is a suburban community in the San Francisco Bay Area, and many residents commute by BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). The survey suggested that three fifths of the survey participants were likely to take the shuttle to the BART station. The interest in using the smart shuttle service is strongly associated with gender, auto ownership, ethnicity, and employment status. Females were more interested in taking a shuttle than males. Employed people were more likely to use BART because of the shuttle. Households without a car or with fewer cars were more interested in taking a shuttle. The cost, travel time, and reliability of the service are the most important attributes in the design of a shuttle. The subsequent phase of this research will be a field test of the smart shuttle with optimal routing solutions. The value of the research is the evaluation of the field test, which will assess the improvement of BART access and the cost-effectiveness of the short-haul feeder operation. Ideally, this smart feeder/shuttle system will provide advanced and attractive service that operates reliably and relatively rapidly and acts as part of the passenger door-to-door chain with smooth and synchronized transfers. In order to approach the design of this innovative feeder/shuttle system, new integration and routing concepts are presented based on the consumer research.


Permission to publish the abstract given by the Journal of Public Transportation.