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

Urban areas typically have several transportation modes available, including bus transit. Bus transit offers short-distance transport in between bus stops on different routes, especially in urban areas. Transit agencies have been striving to keep patrons satisfied by improving on-time arrivals at bus stops, thereby reducing passenger wait times. Bus transit travel and wait times are two of the critical measures of performance that influence patrons’ decision to use that mode of transportation, among others. If transit buses arrive at scheduled times, patrons may not need to find alternative form(s) of transportation. However, if buses are chronically late at bus stops, patrons may seek alternative mode of transportation. A study explored the perception of  transit riders on the burdens of walking, waiting and transferring between different transportation choices on a university campus. The study concluded that transit riders perceive wait time at bus stops to be three times more bothersome than time spent riding on the bus. Consequently, travelers are more likely to change their initial mode choice to another in order to decrease their wait time. Several measures can be implemented that may help to reduce bus passenger wait times. These may include being able to predict acceptable wait times of passengers in order to identify appropriate bus headway, reduce dwell time and locate efficient numbers of bus stops along a route. Therefore, this study will determine average acceptable wait times at bus stops and formulate its prediction to provide decision-makers additional tools to improve patronage.

The research will primarily rely on a combination of manual, GPS or video-based data collection. Manual field data collection will be used for surveying passengers to obtain acceptable wait times while GPS and/or video-based data collection will be used for bus stop characteristics and operations. This study’s goal is to develop acceptable bus patron wait time models at bus stops as a function of bus system characteristics and other passenger attributes by time of day (morning, evening and off-peak periods). The study will focus on the bus transit system in Washington DC.


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 June 2019

Project Number: