Real-Time Transit Information



Collaboration with Dr. Brian Ferris and Dr. Alan Borning
Sponsored by National Science Foundation grant IIS-0705898 and a US DOT Eisenhower Fellowship


OneBusAway is set of tools that provide real-time transit predictions for the greater Seattle region on a full range of platforms, including native applications on the iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone 7 smartphones, a website, a short-messaging service (SMS) and an Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) system.  The open-source-coded program grew organically to now serve 100,000 unique weekly users and continues to be run at the University of Washington through a contract with King County Metro, Sound Transit and Pierce Transit.  In addition to the development of the tools for rider use, the purpose of the project is to undertake research as to the influence of real-time information and trip planning tools on ridership and rider perceptions.  More about this research can be found here.


OBA Ambassadors

Collaboration with Dr. Alan Borning and UTIL student Aaron Gooze
Sponsored by Sound Transit, King County Metro and Pierce Transit through the University of Washington

Providing information through systems such as OneBusAway periodically uncovers issues in the data and other problems.  OneBusAway has a system for providing feedback on these data errors and other issues via email and web and app feedback forms.  An active transit-enthusiast community exists in Seattle that could be encouraged to take part in the project by responding to user questions and data issues in their local area.  This project consists of determining how to best assemble and respond to rider feedback in OneBusAway using transit ambassadors who would be responsible for various portions of the service area; extending or implementing tools to support this activity; and in close collaboration with the agencies, developing and documenting appropriate procedures.  

Moving America on Transit: An Evaluation of Real-time Transit Information

Collaboration with Dr. Sean Barbeau and UTIL student Candace Brakewood
Sponsored by the Georgia Transportation Institute


OneBusAway was developed to serve transit riders in greater Seattle by providing real-time transit arrivals via a variety of mobile platforms.  As part of their real-time BusTime API pilot project in early 2011, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York took OneBusAway a step further when they open-sourced their entire BusTime API server project (based on the OneBusAway open-source project) so that others could build upon the software used in this system.  Sean Barbeau at NCTR is taking this a step further to merge MTA’s work with the original OneBusAway open-source code to allow deployment to additional agencies as well as deploy OneBusAway at Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) in Tampa, Florida.  As a component of this implementation, UTIL student Candace Brakewood will lead an effort to evaluate the impact of real-time information on transit system measures such as but not limited to, perceptions of transit safety and reliability, customer satisfaction, and ridership. 


OneBusAway Atlanta 

Collaboration with UTIL students Landon ReedDerek EdwardsAaron Gooze, and Candace Brakewood
In coordination with the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) and the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA)

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) recently released real-time bus information to software developers.  Using this data, UTIL students Landon ReedDerek Edwards, and Aaron Gooze are working to create an instance of OneBusAway for bus riders in the Atlanta area.  As a component of this implementation, UTIL student Candace Brakewood will lead an effort to evaluate the impact of real-time information on transit system measures that will focus on understanding changes in travel frequency attributable to real-time information. 


Equitable Access to Mobile Transit Information

Collaboration with St. Louis Metro and UTIL student Sarah Windmiller
Sponsored by the Georgia Transportation Institute

Many current mobile transit information systems provide applications for real-time information via internet-enabled “smart” phones, devices which cost more than $200 to purchase in addition to monthly data plans.  In addition to these applications, the data could be available via text-message, website and a regular phone line, allowing use by a substantial portion of the transit-riding population.  By opening up the data via multiple media, the likelihood of riders being able to access real-time information increases.  This project is an analysis of how transit information is and should be presented to the public in an equitable manner.  This addresses the prevailing use of smart phones for real-time transit data, the market penetration of smart phones amongst transit riders, and other ways to make the data accessible to the public.  The project includes determining gaps in data access amongst low-income riders and other groups under the current models.  The end product will be an equity analysis of real-time info, particularly for low income riders with respect to how they access the information (IVR, SMS, displays in shop windows, etc) including a comparison of mobile devices to fixed signage.