Mitigating bus bunching with real-time crowding information

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, place - urban, mode - bus, technology - intelligent transport systems, planning - methods, planning - signage/information, planning - travel demand management, planning - surveys, ridership - behaviour, ridership - demand, operations - crowding


Public transport, Overcrowding, Bus bunching, Real-time crowding information, RTCI, Willingness to wait


A common problem in public transport systems is bus bunching, characterized by a negative feedback loop between service headways, number of boarding passengers and dwell times. In this study, we examine whether providing real-time crowding information (RTCI) at the stop regarding the two next vehicle departures can stimulate passengers to wait for a less-crowded departure, and thus alleviate the bunching effect. To this end, we leverage on results from own stated-preference survey and develop a boarding choice model. The model accounts for the presence of RTCI and is implemented within dynamic public transport simulation framework. Application to the case-study model of a major bus corridor in Warsaw (Poland) reveals that RTCI can induce a significant probability (30–70%) of intentionally skipping an overcrowded bus and waiting for a later departure instead. This behaviour, in turn, results in significantly lower vehicle headway and load variations, without deteriorations in total waiting utility. Overall, journey experience improves by 6%, and crucially—the prevalence of denial-of-boarding and excessive on-board overcrowding is substantially reduced, by ca. 40%. Results of our study indicate that the willingness to wait induced by RTCI can be a potential demand management strategy in counteracting bunching, with benefits already attainable at limited RTCI response rates.


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