Predicting Acceptable Wait Times for Patrons at Transit Bus Stops by Time of Day

The time spent waiting by bus patrons at bus stops is a primary measure for assessing the reliability of transit services. Uncertainty associated with waiting affects bus patrons’ perception of quality of the service provided. Consequently, this study aimed to determine patrons’ maximum and minimum acceptable wait times at bus stops in Washington, DC and to develop prediction models to provide decision-makers with additional tools for improving patronage.

The data used in this study was obtained by surveying 3,388 bus patrons at 71 selected bus stops in Washington, D.C. over an eight-month period. Data obtained from patrons included their ethnicity, gender, minimum and maximum acceptable wait times (beyond the scheduled bus arrival time), alternate transportation mode choice, and knowledge of bus arrival times. Additionally, data on the operational characteristic of the buses were obtained via video playback of video recordings of cameras installed at the selected bus stops. In addition, information and conditions at each bus stop at the time of each survey was recorded. Statistical analyses were conducted to determine if there were any statistically significant differences in the maximum acceptable wait time of patrons based on gender and ethnicity. Further, models were developed to predict the maximum acceptable wait time of patrons.

From the results, the mean of the reported maximum acceptable wait time was 8.5 minutes and 8 minutes, for female and male patrons, respectively. Also, the highest reported acceptable wait time beyond the scheduled bus arrival time was 20 minutes, while the mean differences between the maximum acceptable wait times of patrons grouped by ethnicity were determined to be statistically significant at a 5% significance level. Also, the results showed that White patrons had statistically significant lower maximum acceptable wait times than did patrons of other racial/ethnic groups.

Howard University
Mineta Consortium for Transportation Mobility
Principal Investigator: 
Dr. Stephen Arhin
PI Contact Information: 

Assistant Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering Department
Director, Transportation Research Center
Howard University
2300 Sixth Street NW
Suite 2121
Washington, DC 20059
Tel: 202-806-4798/202-806-6577
Fax: 202-462-9498

Funding Source(s) and Amounts Provided (by each agency or organization): 

U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology – $250,000

Total Project Cost: 
Agency ID or Contract Number: 
November 2017 to September 2019
Project Number: 



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