Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - vehicle, mode - bus, mode - mass transit, mode - subway/metro, operations - performance, operations - reliability, organisation - performance, planning - service quality


Vehicle locating systems, TriMet (Portland, Oregon), Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon, Transit, Service reliability, Service quality, Quality of service, Public transit, Performance measurement, Performance, Passenger service quality, Mass transit, Local transit, Intracity bus transportation, Data archiving, Communications, Central dispatch center, Bus transit, Bus dispatch system, AVL, Automatic vehicle location, Automatic passenger counting, Automatic location systems, Archived data


Measuring the performance of a transit system is the first step toward efficient and proactive management. Since 1990, the use of performance measures for transportation planning and operations has gained a great deal of attention, particularly as transportation agencies are required to provide service with diminishing resources. In the past, it was very difficult and costly to collect comprehensive performance data. Thus, until recently, the transit industry has relied on limited, general, and aggregate measures for reporting performance to external funding and regulatory agencies. In Portland, Oregon, the local transit provider (TriMet) has developed a bus dispatch system (BDS) consisting of automatic vehicle location, communications, automatic passenger counters, and a central dispatch center. Most significantly, TriMet had the foresight to develop a system to archive all of its stop-level data, which are then available for conversion to performance indicators. It is demonstrated that there are powerful ways in which the data collected by the BDS can be converted into potentially valuable Transit Performance Measures (TPMs). These TPMs have been proposed in the past but were not implemented because of data limitations. It is envisioned that systematic use of TPMs can assist a transit agency in improving the quality and reliability of its service, leading to improvements for customers and operators alike.