Using GTFS to Calculate Travel Time Savings Potential of Bus Preferential Treatments

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, place - north america, place - urban, infrastructure - bus/tram lane, infrastructure - bus/tram priority, land use - planning


bus lanes, transit priority, General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS)


Dedicated bus lanes and other transit priority treatments are a cost-effective way to improve transit speed and reliability. However, creating a bus lane can be a contentious process; it requires justification to the public and frequently entails competition for federal grants. In addition, more complex bus networks are likely to have unknown locations where transit priority infrastructure would provide high value to riders.

This analysis presents a methodology for estimating the value of bus preferential treatments for all segments of a given bus network. It calculates the passenger-weighted travel time savings potential for each inter-stop segment based on schedule padding. The input data, ridership data, and General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) trip-stop data are universally accessible to transit agencies.

This study examines the 2018 Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) bus network and identifies a portion of route 39 on Buford Highway as an example candidate for a bus lane corridor. The results are used to evaluate the value of time savings to passengers, operating cost savings to the agency, and other benefits that would result from implementing bus lanes on Buford Highway.

This study does not extend to estimating the cost of transit priority infrastructure or recommending locations based on traffic flow characteristics. However, it does provide a reproducible methodology to estimate the value of transit priority treatments, and it identifies locations with high value, all using data that are readily available to transit agencies. Conducting this analysis provides a foundation for beginning the planning process for transit priority infrastructure.


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