Modeling Dwell Time for Streetcars in Melbourne, Australia, and Toronto, Canada

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - bus/tram priority, infrastructure - stop, mode - tram/light rail, place - australasia, place - north america, operations - performance


dwell time, streetcars, Melbourne, Toronto, stop design, platform stops, doors on trams, off-vehicle ticket purchase, validation


Previous research indicates that dwell time is a major factor influencing transit competitiveness. Streetcars have particularly uncompetitive running times, but no research has explored influences on streetcar dwell time. There is also no analytical research on dwell time effects of stop design despite anecdotal evidence showing that platform stops have reduced streetcar dwell time. This paper presents an empirical study of factors affecting dwell time on streetcars in Melbourne, Australia, and Toronto, Canada. It focuses on tram stop design. Results show that payment of fares to drivers on entry in Toronto increases dwell time compared with onboard self-ticket validation in Melbourne (β = .26). For a typical case of 10 passengers boarding and five alighting, the Melbourne approach saves 9.4 s (48%) of dwell time compared with Toronto. Tram stop design, notably platform stops, was the next most significant factor affecting streetcar dwell time (β = -.18). For a typical case of 10 passengers boarding and five alighting, platform stops reduce dwell time by 6.6 s or 25%. A positive link between the number of doors on trams and dwell time was found; however, this is thought to result from insufficient examples of high boarding numbers on four-door trams. The results suggest that off-vehicle or postboarding ticket purchase and validation are significant strategies for reducing dwell time. Providing platform stops is also a potential strategy for reducing dwell time. Areas for future research are suggested.


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