Should I stay or should I board? Willingness to wait with real-time crowding information in urban public transport

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

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


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


Overcrowding is a major phenomenon affecting travel experience in urban public transport, whose negative impacts can be potentially mitigated with real-time crowding information (RTCI) on public transport vehicle departures. In this study, we investigate the willingness to wait (WTW) with instantaneous RTCI to avoid the in-vehicle (over)crowding the passenger faces, focusing specifically on urban crowding context (i.e. bus and tram systems). We conduct a stated-preference survey in Krakow (Poland), where we examine the choice probability between boarding now a more crowded vehicle vs. waiting at the stop for a less-crowded PT departure, and estimate a series of discrete choice models.

Results show that 50–70% of respondents consider skipping a first departure which is excessively overcrowded and 10–30% would skip a vehicle with moderate standing crowding on-board. Acceptable waiting times typically range between 2 and 13 min, depending on crowding level and propensity to arrive on-time, but may even exceed 20 min in individual cases. These findings indicate that RTCI can induce a substantial WTW, affecting travel behaviour. We discuss its implications for mitigating service disruptions and demand management policies, including prospective support for public transport recovery in the aftermath of covid-19 crisis.


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


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