Coffee Hour: Don’t Miss the Bus: Quantifying the Impacts of Real-Time Information on Transit Ridership

Friday, October 9, 2015 - 3:30pm
Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m. The lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.


About the talk

Urban spaces are at their best when people can easily reach the amenities, services, and facilities that improve quality of life. Public transportation plays an important role in urban transportation systems by helping to combat roadway congestion, providing a more environmentally friendly mode of travel than personal automobiles, and offering mobility options for those who cannot or choose not to drive. However, service reliability issues have troubled public transit agencies for decades. When a bus or train does not arrive on time, passengers become frustrated and may be less likely to choose transit for future trips. To avoid attrition and address service unreliability issues, transit authorities have begun to provide real-time vehicle location and predicted arrival information to riders via mobile and web-enabled devices. But is real-time transit information worth the cost of setting up and maintaining the system? The objective of this research is to quantify the benefits of providing real-time information to riders. The results of two studies will be presented. The first study uses panel regression to evaluate the impacts of real-time information on route-level bus ridership in New York City while controlling for external factors. The second study conducts a before-after behavioral experiment in which web-based surveys measure changes in traveler behavior, feelings, and satisfaction in Tampa, Florida. The results reveal that real-time information can increase ridership and improve passenger satisfaction with transit service—a key finding for 21st century transit systems. These findings have immediate implications for planners and policy-makers as they aim to increase transit ridership, enhance the passenger experience, and improve public transportation systems in America.

About the speaker

Candace BrakewoodCandace Brakewood is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the City College of New York. Her interests include transportation planning, public transportation, and intelligent transportation systems. Her research focuses on understanding how new information and communication technologies can be used to improve public transportation systems. Prior to working in the transportation field, Brakewood was a patent examiner at the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia. She has a Ph.D. in civil engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, dual master of science degrees in transportation and technology policy from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from Johns Hopkins University. For more information on Brakewood’s research, please visit her website:

Suggested reading

  • Brakewood, Macfarlane, and Watkins (2015). The Impact of Real-Time Information on Bus Ridership in New York City. Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies, Volume 53, pp. 59-75. doi:10.1016/j.trc.2015.01.021
  • Brakewood, Barbeau, and Watkins (2014). An Experiment Evaluating the Impacts of Real-Time Transit Information on Bus Riders in Tampa, Florida. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Volume 69, pp. 409-422. doi:10.1016/j.tra.2014.09.003


Angela Rogers

Coffee Hour