Synthesis of Information Related to Transit Practices. Topic SG-17. The Use and Practice of Intelligent Transportation Systems in Real-Time Headway Based Service Bus Operations

Over the past two decades, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), and in particular Computer Assisted Dispatch and Automatic Vehicle Location (CAD/AVL), have become quasi-universal in urban bus operations, and support a variety of functions, including: performance monitoring, service reliability, security, passenger information, ticketing, contract management, multimodal integration and many other functions facilitating progress towards Mobility as a Service (MaaS). The origins of ITS date back to the 1970s and 1980s, to automated vehicle location and monitoring, and a key goal was to use knowledge of the real-time situation of buses on a route, relative to their scheduled position and relative to the location of other buses on the line to control operations in real-time. It was anticipated that, with such knowledge and intelligent functionality suitable combination of the human, the machine, processes and organizational structure would empower transit agencies to get the best possible outcome from whatever circumstances they faced. The envisioned potential use of ITS to greatly improve bus service reliability has not been fully achieved. Observed experience with the use of these systems shows that they continue to be primarily used for ad-hoc incident management in cases of street deviations, broken buses, sick passengers, security problems, etc.; they rarely appear to be used for continuous proactive monitoring and control to identify and correct service problems as they occur. Systems today are slowly looking to transition to a dynamic headway based service that have a more proactive approach to manage the operations. The promise of headway based service is that it will deliver more consistent and reliable service. ITS tools will assist in optimizing this service. The objective of this study is to synthesize the national and peer international state of the practice of headway based service operations. The Synthesis should focus on the proactive use of ITS technologies which include: (1) Analysis of technology options and operational challenges for headway based service; (2) Consultations with operation stakeholders (dispatchers, drivers, planners, and management) to identify a typology of incidents and scenarios; (3) Collaborations with stakeholders (city, county, MPOs, vendors, data providers, etc.); (4) Context of successful headway based service implementation (dedicated lanes, stage vehicles, etc.). It should include metrics used; (5) Two-way communication with riders; (6) Development of business strategies for each type of incident and scenario including infrastructure implications; (7) Working with ITS vendors to tailor the interface and architecture of the system to assist with prioritizing scenarios, communications protocols, report logging, formulation of suggestions to dispatchers, etc.; (8) Incorporating all of the above into the training of dispatchers; (9) Lessons learned (including costs). The information will be gathered by conducting a Literature Review, a survey of transit systems and in–depth case examples of transit agencies who have developed innovative practices. The case examples should highlight successes, challenges and lessons learned. Gaps in information and future research needs will also be identified.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $45000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project J-07, Topic SG-17

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Transit Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001

    Federal Transit Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Garcia-Colberg, Mariela

  • Performing Organizations:

    Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI)

    400 Harvey Mitchell Parkway South
    Suite 300
    College Station, TX  United States  77845-4375
  • Principal Investigators:

    Anderson, Paul

  • Start Date: 20190524
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01707741
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project J-07, Topic SG-17
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Jun 10 2019 3:16PM