Strategic Look at Friday Exceptions in Weekday Schedules for Urban Transit Improving Service, Capturing Leisure Markets, and Achieving Cost Savings by Mining Data on Automated Fare Collection Ridership

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - scheduling, organisation - workforce planning, place - north america, planning - service rationalisation


day of the week scheduling, schedules, transit, New York City, staff rostering, savings


This paper describes a strategic business case for weekday exception scheduling in urban transit services, specifically, treating Fridays differently from other weekdays. As commuters trend toward more flexible work scheduling, telecommuting arrangements, and 4 1/2-day weeks, gaps between midweek and Friday ridership volumes have widened. Exception schedules neither were nor are unusual; transit operators ran full Saturday lunchtime peak-hour service in the interwar era, while private bus companies, airlines, and freight railroads operate exceptions today. Systematic consideration of day-of-week scheduling confirmed that Friday modifications were best leveraged in better matching of service supply to ridership demand. Longitudinal analysis of New York City Transit automated fare collection data revealed that more regular commuters skipped a Friday trip than other weekday trips. Analysis by route and time period for 14 representative routes over 10 months showed 4.7% lower ridership levels on Fridays, potentially allowing 7.4% reductions in vehicle hours operated. Available savings were route specific, with 25% service reductions possible on some routes, but service increases of 25% were required on other routes with higher Friday ridership. Implementing separate Friday schedules systemwide could provide a surplus of 10 to17 million (0.6%) for reinvestment else-where in the network. Additionally, reduced Friday crew requirements could lead to increases of 1.2% to 2.4% in desirable weekend-inclusive regular days off (RDOs) and a 2.4% reduction in nonpreferred midweek RDOs. Two prerequisites for realizing savings are a computerized run-cutting system and an infrastructure for ridership analysis across multiple days, routes, and time periods. Transit agencies should determine whether routes can benefit from weekday exceptions. If productivity improvements are indicated, contracts permitting weekday work program exceptions can be negotiated.


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