Comparing bus holding methods with and without real-time predictions

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, place - north america, place - urban, operations - frequency, operations - performance, technology - intelligent transport systems, planning - methods


Public Transportation, Holding method, Real-time control, Prediction, Control strategy, Passenger wait, Bus bunching, Simulation


On high-frequency routes, transit agencies hold buses at control points and seek to dispatch them with even headways to avoid bus bunching. This paper compares holding methods used in practice and recommended in the literature using simulated and historical data from Tri-Met route 72 in Portland, Oregon. We evaluated the performance of each holding method in terms of headway instability and mean holding time. We tested the sensitivity of holding methods to their parameterization and to the number of control points. We found that Schedule-Based methods require little holding time but are unable to stabilize headways even when applied at a high control point density. The Headway-Based methods are able to successfully control headways but they require long holding times. Prediction-Based methods achieve the best compromise between headway regularity and holding time on a wide range of desired trade-offs. Finally, we found the prediction-based methods to be sensitive to prediction accuracy, but using an existing prediction method we were able to minimize this sensitivity. These results can be used to inform the decision of transit agencies to implement holding methods on routes similar to TriMet 72.


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


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