Real-time transit information accuracy: impacts and proposed solutions

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Gooze, Aaron Isaac
Yang, Jiawen
Watkins, Kari E.
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When presented in a practical format, real-time transit information can improve sustainable travel methods by enhancing the transit experience. Larger shifts towards public transportation have cascading effects on the environment, health and urban form. The research will identify the positive shift realized by the continued development of a set of real-time transit information tools, specifically in the Seattle region. In addition, it will analyze real-time prediction errors and their effects on the rider experience. Three years after the development of location-aware mobile applications for OneBusAway - a suite of real-time information tools - a survey of current users was conducted by the author in 2012 in order to compare the results to a 2009 study. The results show significant positive shifts in satisfaction with transit, perceptions of safety and ridership frequency as a result of the increased use of real-time arrival information. However, the research will also provide a perspective of the margin of error riders come to expect and the negative effects resulting from inaccuracies with the real-time data. While riders on average will ride less when they have experienced errors, a robust issue-reporting system as well as the resolution of the error can mitigate the initial negative effects. In response, the research provides a framework for a crowd-sourced error reporting process in order to improve the level of accuracy by means of a Transit Ambassador Program. Finally, a pilot program developed by the author is assessed against this framework and insight is provided within the context of the real-time information system.
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