Identifying Homogeneous Periods in Bus Route Origin-Destination Passenger Flow Patterns from Automatic Passenger Counter Data

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, planning - route design, planning - network design, place - north america


bus passenger, origin-destination (O-D), travel patterns, route planning, design, operations


Bus passenger origin-destination (O-D) flow matrices portray information on travel patterns that can be used for route planning, design, and operations functions. Because travel patterns are known to vary throughout the day, O-D flow matrices can be expected to vary throughout the day as well. A method identifies time-of-day periods of homogeneous normalized bus route O-D passenger flow matrices in which a normalized matrix depicts the probabilities that a random passenger in the homogeneous period will travel from various origin stops to various destination stops on the route. The method uses bus trip automatic passenger counter data to estimate trip-level O-D matrices, aggregates the trip-level O-D matrices into elemental matrices for relatively short time periods, and then considers these elemental matrices as inputs to a traditional clustering procedure that is modified to ensure that a cluster indicating a period of homogeneous normalized O-D flow spans a continuous time period during the day. The homogeneous O-D flow period method is applied to empirical automatic passenger counter data collected on a bus route for which temporal travel patterns are understood. The time periods identified correspond well to the a priori understanding of travel patterns. A parallel method that uses passenger volume, rather than estimated normalized O-D flow matrices, is applied to the same data. The periods identified by this volume-based approach are not responsive to the changes in the normalized O-D flow patterns determined by the homogeneous O-D flow period identification method.


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