Impact of Crowding on Streetcar Dwell Time

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - australasia, mode - tram/light rail, infrastructure - bus/tram lane, infrastructure - stop, operations - capacity, operations - crowding


streetcars, dwell time, reliability of performance, crowding, tram stop design


Streetcars are undergoing a renaissance, but developers need to plan for efficient dwell times at stops to ensure good running time and reliability of performance. Research has established that tram stop configuration is a critical factor in streetcar dwell times at platform stops that show good performance. However, research also shows that crowding can cause dwell time problems. No known study to date has examined the impacts of crowding and tram stop design on dwell times, a major gap in knowledge. This paper presents the first empirical study that explored those impacts. The comprehensive study covered dwell time at busy stops to explore the influence of passenger volume, vehicle and stop crowding, tram entrance steps, and tram stop design on passenger flow times. Two multiple regressions measured the impact of these influences. Results demonstrated that crowding caused a significant deterioration in the dwell time benefits that platform stops provided compared with curbside stops. A critical threshold of 14 passenger movements (boardings and alightings) was established, below which platform stop design was more efficient and above which curbside stops had better performance. On-vehicle crowding in particular was found to affect dwell times significantly, followed by stop crowding. Crowding effects were more important than the presence of entrance steps in their influence on dwell time. This paper discusses the factors that influenced these outcomes and suggests areas for future research.


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