Passenger wait time perceptions at bus stops: empirical results and impact on evaluating real-time bus arrival information

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - stop, planning - signage/information, ridership - perceptions, mode - bus


This study quantifies the relationship between perceived and actual waiting times experienced by passengers awaiting the arrival of a bus at a bus stop. Understanding such a relationship would be useful in quantifying the value of providing real-time information to passengers on the time until the next bus is expected to arrive at a bus stop. Data on perceived and actual passenger waiting times, along with socioeconomic characteristics, were collected at bus stops where no real-time bus arrival information is provided, and relationships between perceived and actual waiting times are estimated. The results indicate that passengers do perceive time to be greater than the actual amount of time waited. However, the hypothesis that the rate of change of perceived time does not vary with respect to the actual waiting time could not be rejected (over a range of 3 to 15 minutes). Assuming that a passenger’s perceived waiting time is equal to the actual time when presented with accurate real-time bus arrival information, the value of the eliminated additional time is assessed in the form of reduced vehicle hours per day resulting from a longer headway that produces the same mean passenger waiting time. The eliminated additional time is also assessed in the form of uncertainty in the headway resulting in the same extra waiting time. Naturally, such benefits of passenger information can only be confirmed when the actual effect of information on the perception of waiting time is quantified.


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