Providing real-time bus crowding information for passengers: A novel policy to promote high-frequency transit performance

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, operations - crowding, operations - performance, ridership - behaviour, ridership - demand, technology - intelligent transport systems, planning - signage/information


High-frequency transit, Control policy, Bus crowding information, Passenger boarding choice, Passenger comfort


Bus bunching is of particular concern and undesirable for both operators and passengers in high-frequency transit. In contrast to existing control methods, this paper proposes a novel control policy, namely, providing real-time bus crowding information (BCI) for passengers. It is believed that passengers would spontaneously distribute more evenly among buses and help to prevent bus bunching with the provision of BCI accompanying arrival time information due to the following mechanism. A proportion of passengers would be likely to wait a few more minutes for the next bus when the current bus is crowded and the next bus is more comfortable, and the boarding times of these passengers would make the next bus dwell longer and increase its headway from the previous bus. We formulate bus motion models incorporating passenger boarding choice under BCI to realize the policy in simulation experiments. The results demonstrate that the policy can reduce operation instability by approximately 20% in terms of bus headway and single-trip time. In addition, this policy can significantly reduce the in-vehicle crowdedness experienced by passengers by up to 25% at the cost of small increases in the mean journey time in some cases. The simulation experiments on a holding-controlled route also indicate that the proposed policy is able to coordinate with holding well. A sensitivity analysis further confirms that the policy’s performance is robust even if the passengers have low inclinations to choose the next bus. The policy of providing BCI in this paper is especially effective for bus routes with high passenger demand and may have great application potential in practice.


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


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