Following a small-scale launch of a real-time transit information systen in Tampa, 64 percent of users reported spending less time waiting at the bus stop.

A controlled behavioral experiment was conducted in Tampa, Florida to evaluate the benefits of providing real-time information to transit riders.

July 2014
Tampa,Florida,United States

Summary Information

The objective of this research was to quantify the benefits of real-time information (RTI) provided to bus riders. The method used was a behavioral experiment with a before-after control group design in which RTI was only provided to the experimental group. Tampa was selected as the location for this study as the demographics of Hillsborough Regional Transit Authority’s (HART) ridership are largely transit-dependent users. In addition, though HART’s buses were equipped with automatic vehicle location (AVL) equipment at the time of the study for operational purposes, RTI was not yet shared with riders.

The transit agency and a research team pursued a small-scale launch of a transit traveler information system that provided RTI for HART buses. The study’s 268 participants were randomly assigned to the control group and the experimental group. Only the experimental group was emailed instructions explaining how to use RTI, and they were instructed not to share RTI with anyone during the study period. Five interfaces were developed for the transit traveler information system and were made available to the experimental group: a website, two mobile websites for internet-enabled mobile devices (one text-only and the other optimized for smartphones), a native Android application, and a native iPhone application.

Web-based surveys were used to measure behavior, feeling, and satisfaction changes of HART’s bus riders over a study period of approximately three months.
  • The "before" survey was conducted in February 2013 during a two week period.
  • The "after" survey was administered during the last two weeks of May 2013.

  • 64 percent of RTI users reported that they spent less time waiting at the bus stop, which is in alignment with the previous analysis of "usual" wait times.
  • A difference of means analysis of gain scores of "usual" wait times revealed a significantly larger decrease (nearly 2 minutes) for the experimental group than the control group.
  • 68 percent of the experimental group agreed that they felt "more relaxed" since they started using RTI. The experimental group was also found to feel more "productive" and less "frustrated" while waiting for the bus.
  • 39 percent of the experimental group reported that they make HART bus trips more often since using RTI, while the majority (60 percent) stated that they ride HART buses "about the same" amount.

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An experiment evaluating the impacts of real-time transit information on bus riders in Tampa, Florida

Author: Brakewood, Candace Barbeau, Sean Watkins, Kari

Published By: Center for Urban Transportation Research University of South Florida

Source Date: July 2014



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Benefit ID: 2017-01130