GPS Data Helps Transit Agencies Plan for the Future

Using our Reliability+ tool to identify specific locations of travel time unreliability along transit routes.

What Differentiates Reliability+

Many transit agencies currently calculate reliability as on-time performance, while our Reliability+ tool calculates it as travel time variability. Researchers and transit agencies are using this metric more frequently as it helps to identify the specific location of the route where unreliability is occurring. The output from our tool can be visualized in a variety of ways so that agencies can effectively communicate information to agency decision-makers, stakeholders and members of the public.

Reliability +, and associated visualizations, are transferable to any transit agency that tracks their fleet using GPS. For routes with high frequencies of travel time variability, this provides a better measure of how passengers perceive the service level than the typical on-time performance measure. For routes with frequent service, customers don’t care as much whether a bus comes on the scheduled time because the next bus will come shortly after. They care more whether their wait time or travel time will vary. Our metric provides a measure of this variability.

City of Oakland

The Effect of Super Sharrow Lanes on Autos, Transit and Bicyclists

Objective: To study the effect of super sharrow lanes on autos, transit and bicyclists.

Super sharrows are shared lane markings, with a green strip in the middle of the lane plus sharrow markings on top and are intended to convey the message that motorists and cyclists must share the lane of travel.

Action: We worked with the City of Oakland to develop a robust research plan.

Harnessing Big Data: During a project meeting, the client mentioned that they would like to know whether bus speeds are affected by the super sharrows. We used the Reliability+ tool to easily and quickly pull data for AC Transit Route 57, which runs along 40th Street in the project area, and analyze the data for each phase of the project in order to determine average daily bus speeds as well as variances in those speeds within the project vicinity.

Outcome: The results showed that there was no statistically significant change in bus speeds after the implementation of super sharrows. Our innovative Reliability+ tool helped provide important data that informed the evaluation and will help Oakland with future planning.

This tool’s ability to transform large, raw data sets into actionable information is what makes it so useful.  The data visualizations and the spreadsheets that the tool provides gives transit operations, planners, and engineers the information they need to help make transit service faster and more reliable.

Chris Pangilinan

San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency

M Line

Congested 19th Avenue/Highway 1 Corridor

Objective: To improve transit travel time and reliability along the congested 19th Avenue/Highway 1 corridor.

Action: The San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) conducted a study to explore the feasibility, benefits and impacts of grade separating, and relocating the Muni M-Ocean View light-rail to the west side of 19th Avenue, which would be a major capital investment.

Harnessing Big Data: Currently, travel time on the M-Ocean line is slow and highly variable — the time it takes to travel the two-mile study corridor can range significantly. Using the Reliability+ tool, we were able to harness Big Data to show variation in travel time for the M-Ocean View and show which segments along the corridor exhibit the highest variability.

Outcome: We provided an interactive webmap and graphics, which allowed the SFCTA project team to easily review transit performance metrics through the corridor and clearly articulate the project’s operational benefits to the community.

I appreciate the efforts of SFMTA and the 19th Ave project team in communicating all the issues and options to the affected communities and in listening to our inputs and feedback. Such openness and transparency will definitely be a win-win approach for a high-impact long-term project like this and will result in success that satisfies the expectations of most residents and users in the areas affected.


Comment Collected During Outreach Phase