Unified estimator for excess journey time under heterogeneous passenger incidence behavior using smartcard data

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - performance, place - europe, ridership - behaviour, technology - passenger information, technology - ticketing systems


Excess journey time, Service quality, Passenger incidence behavior, Smartcard data, London Overground


Excess journey time (EJT), the difference between actual passenger journey times and journey times implied by the published timetable, strikes a useful balance between the passenger’s and operator’s perspectives of public transport service quality. Using smartcard data, this paper tried to characterize transit service quality with EJT under heterogeneous incidence behavior (arrival at boarding stations). A rigorous framework was established for analyzing EJT, in particular for reasoning about passenger’ journey time standards as implied by varying incidence behavior. It was found that although the wrong assumption about passenger incidence behavior and journey time standards could result in a biased estimate of EJT for individual passenger journeys, the unified estimator of EJT proposed in this paper is unbiased at the aggregate level regardless of the passenger incidence behavior (random incidence, scheduled incidence, or a mixture of both). A case study based on the London Overground network (with a tap-in-and-tap-out smartcard system) was conducted to demonstrate the applicability of the proposed method. EJT was estimated using the smartcard (Oyster) data at various levels of spatial and temporal aggregation in order to measure and evaluate the service quality. Aggregate EJT was found to vary substantially across the different London Overground lines and across time periods of weekday service.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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