Visualization of Geographical Information System and Automatic Vehicle Location Data to Explore Transit Performance

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - tram/light rail, place - australasia, technology - automatic vehicle monitoring, technology - geographic information systems, operations - performance


automatic vehicle location (AVL), tram, Geographical information systems (GIS), performance


This paper describes a new methodology to explore the operational performance of on-road transit on a network-level basis. The approach mines stop-level automatic vehicle location (AVL) data and uses new visualization methodologies in geographical information systems (GIS) to explore spatial and temporal patterns of changes in operational performance. The focus is a large historical AVL data set for the tram (streetcar) network of Melbourne, Australia. A major aim is to illustrate how a spatial perspective on networks can improve understanding of transit operational performance. AVL records for 24,451 tram vehicle trips in March 2001 and 26,155 trips in March 2004 were analyzed for 175 tram stops. Arrival travel times and differences between scheduled and actual arrival times were computed for each stop. The Arcview GIS system and spatial surface interpretation with the inverse distance weighted methodology were used to explore spatial variations in the data. Five analyses explored network variations in operational performance: (a) an analysis of tram travel time to Melbourne's central business district, (b) a reliability analysis exploring variations between actual versus scheduled travel time for 2001, (c) an examination of 2001 tram travel time variation with the use of the coefficient of variation, (d) an analysis of changes in tram travel times between 2001 and 2004, and (e) a trend analysis of changes in tram reliability from 2001 to 2004 with the use of the coefficient of variation. Overall the analysis demonstrated that a networkwide and spatial perspective in exploring the operational performance of large transit systems was a new, original, and worthwhile approach to identify transit issues for further investigation.


Permission to publish abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.