Evaluating the Implementation of Real-time Transit Information through an Examination of Information Supply and Demand

Open Access
Author:
Harmony, Xavier J
Graduate Program:
Civil Engineering
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
March 15, 2016
Committee Members:
  • Vikash Varun Gayah, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • transit
  • public transportation
  • real-time information
  • public transit
  • information supply
  • information demand
Abstract:
The purpose of this project was to evaluate and strategize the implementation of real-time transit information systems (RTTISs) through an examination of information supply and demand. Information supply and demand are defined as the attitudes and experiences of transit passengers and transit agencies, respectively, with real-time information. To gain an understanding of trends and patterns regarding RTTISs, web surveys were developed for both stakeholder groups and distributed through convenience sampling methods. For information supply, the most valued types of information were found to be information about the location of the vehicle while the least valued information relates to other information about the vehicle itself, like seating availability. In terms of media preferences, smartphone applications were found to be the preferred medium for receiving information with Internet/websites and dynamic message signs following in second and third place. The way information is displayed depends on the purpose of the information as well as how it is presented. Finally, it was found that different demographic and socioeconomic groups can influence preferences for real-time information. The information demand survey found that approximately 69 percent of agencies offer real-time information. The provision of information was found to be influenced by agency characteristics. The primary constraints for providing real-time information were found to be similar to what was found in the real-time information literature. Funding is the largest issue while staffing needs are the second largest. Finally, although real-time information literature mentions the importance of providing information for the differently-abled, the survey found differently-abled user requirements were one of the least important factors influencing the implementation of RTTISs. A comparison between the surveys found that the information currently being provided by transit agencies is mostly similar to the information most valued by transit passengers. When there were differences between supply and demand it was generally because agencies were not providing information using the same media preferred by. To address these differences, several strategies were developed to try and improve the implementation of real-time information. These include improving public outreach, improving feedback for commuters, providing different cost tiers for information, utilizing alternative sources for the information, and creating passive income through advertising on smartphone applications and websites. Through these findings and strategies, real-time transit information can be better understood. This information can hopefully be used to better develop and prioritize investment in real-time information systems.