Uses of Archived AVL/APC Data to Improve Transit Performance and Management

In response to growing traffic congestion and consequent passenger demands for more reliable service, many transit operators are seeking to improve bus operations by investing in automatic vehicle location (AVL) technology. In addition, automatic passenger counters (APCs), which can collect passenger activity data compatible with AVL operating data, are beginning to reach the mainstream. Many operators are planning, implementing, or operating AVL/APC systems. The primary application of AVL technology has been in the area of real-time operations monitoring and control; consequently, AVL data have not typically been stored for subsequent analysis. This contrasts with APC data, which are generally accessed for reporting and planning purposes long after opportunities for real-time use have expired. Beyond the area of real-time operations control, AVL technology holds substantial promise for improving service planning, scheduling, and performance analysis practices. These activities have historically been hampered by the high cost of recovering operating and passenger-activity data; however, AVL systems can capture the very large amounts of operating data required for performance analysis and management at a fairly low incremental cost. At the extremes, saving no data equates to missed opportunities, while archives of indiscriminately-saved data grow unwieldy. Operators need effective data archiving strategies, techniques, and standard practices in order to capitalize on the potential wealth of extractable information without overburdening their data management infrastructure. Transit providers have yet to take advantage of low-cost performance and passenger-activity data associated with AVL/APC technology. This is due, in part, to the traditional separation of operations functions (where the AVL/APC technology has been deployed) from the scheduling and service planning functions of transit organizations (where the needs for data and analysis are located). Pockets of excellent AVL/APC data management for specific applications can be found, but integrated approaches that can be applied across the industry do not exist. Research is needed to assist transit providers in effective collection and use of AVL/APC data for service planning, performance evaluation, and system management. This research should provide a coherent framework to coordinate operations, planning, and scheduling functions in the collection and use of AVL/APC data. In addition, this research should include identification of potential applications of the data for analyzing traditional fixed-route services as well as emerging service designs and strategies (e.g., bus rapid transit). Finally, this research should also recognize the varying levels of sophistication and size of transit providers. The objective of this research is to develop guidance for the effective collection and use of archived AVL/APC data to improve the performance and management of transit systems.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project H-28

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Transit Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    Transit Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001
  • Project Managers:

    Parker, Stephan

  • Performing Organizations:

    Northeastern University

    Division of Research Management
    360 Huntington Avenue
    Boston, MA  United States  02115
  • Principal Investigators:

    Furth, Peter

  • Start Date: 20010801
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20060430
  • Source Data: RiP Project 7551

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01547856
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transit Cooperative Research Program
  • Contract Numbers: Project H-28
  • Files: RiP
  • Created Date: Dec 16 2014 1:00AM