Benefits of Real-Time Transit Information and Impacts of Data Accuracy on Rider Experience

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, planning - service improvement, ridership - attitudes, ridership - perceptions, technology - intelligent transport systems, technology - passenger information


transit, real-time, perceptions, safety, satisfaction, ridership frequency, error reporting systems


When presented in a practical format, real-time transit information can improve sustainable travel methods by enhancing the transit experience. This paper identifies the positive shift realized by the continued development of the OneBusAway set of real-time transit information tools. In addition, the paper analyzes real-time prediction errors and their effects on the rider experience. In 2012, three years after the development of location-aware mobile applications, a survey of current OneBusAway users was conducted to compare the results with the previous 2009 study. Results show significant positive shifts in satisfaction with transit, perceptions of safety, and ridership frequency as a result of the increased use of real-time arrival information. However, this paper also provides a perspective of the margin of error riders come to expect and the negative effects resulting from inaccuracies with the real-time data. Although riders on average will ride less when they have experienced errors, a robust issue-reporting system as well as the resolution of the error can mitigate the initial negative effects. With this understanding, the paper provides transit agencies and developers with guidance to realize the full potential of real-time information and error-reporting systems


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