Simulating the Travel Time Impact of Missed Transit Connections

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, place - north america, operations - reliability


passengers, behaviour, transfers, system reliability, bus, California


It is well established that transit passengers dislike transferring, in part because of the inherent risk that the connecting vehicle will be missed, a risk that can increase overall travel time. Despite the problems that missed transfers cause, such transfers across a system are rarely tracked in transit performance monitoring programs. The likelihood of a missed transfer depends on combinations of several factors and thus is hard to estimate. In practice, transit systems are most often evaluated according to the performance of individual vehicles, stops, and routes, not the interactions between them. This paper describes a systems approach to quantify the effects of travel time reliability, schedule adherence, and schedule design on missed transit connections, and the resulting travel time distributions. To determine the effects of vehicle interactions on transfers and the role that transfers play in travel time, a series of simulations based on automatic passenger counting data from the bus system in San Diego, California, was performed. Travel times on two transfer trips in downtown San Diego were simulated. The effects of passenger arrival rate, on-time vehicle performance, and schedule design on the likelihood of a transfer being missed were investigated in a sensitivity analysis. This research is expected to lead to a better understanding of the passenger effects of schedule adherence on transfer trips. Practically speaking, this methodology could aid in the identification of pairs of buses whose chronic schedule deviations at a particular location are likely causing missed transfers.


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