Bus quality improvements and local commuter mode share


Justin Tyndall

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, mode - bus, operations - frequency, operations - reliability, planning - service improvement, planning - service quality, technology - intelligent transport systems, technology - automatic vehicle monitoring, operations - scheduling, ridership - commuting, ridership - mode choice


Public transportation, Service quality, Mode share, Reliability, Headway, Bus rapid transit


The choice to use bus transit over a rival mode of transportation is a consequence of many variables. The importance of bus service quality on mode share is often considered but rarely measured explicitly. This study presents a novel temporal data set of geolocated buses from New York City. The merger of locational vehicle data with public schedule data allows for the estimation of bus dependability across neighbourhoods. This study uses plausibly exogenous spatial variation in the introduction New York City’s Select Bus Service program to explore the relationship between the policy intervention, bus service quality and changes in commuter mode share. A propensity score matching procedure compares bus reliability and mode share in tracts that received Select Bus Service to a control group. A sizeable treatment effect is found. The policy intervention significantly increased service frequency and improved bus arrival reliability. Additionally, bus mode share amongst commuters in treatment neighbourhoods increased substantially. Select Bus Service was responsible for an increase in local bus mode share of 1.9 percentage points, with bus mode share in the median tract rising from 9.6% to 11.5%. Female commuters are found to be more responsive to the service improvements than males.


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


Transportation Research Part A Home Page: