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The Best Evidence Yet That Real-Time Arrival Info Increases Transit Ridership

New York's Bus Time program led to about a 2 percent rise overall, according to new research.
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It's obvious why transit riders love real-time information: they can plan their trip and shed the psychological angst that comes with waiting for the next bus or train. But the question for cities is whether or not people love it enough to choose transit over another mode. In other words, is real-time data just a nice way to keep existing riders happy, or is it an investment that will pay off in brand new riders over time?

A new study of a real-time bus arrival program in New York City offers an encouraging (if qualified) answer: it does generate new trips, though mostly for high-traffic routes. Candace Brakewood of the City College of New York and collaborators analyzed ridership patterns following the city's roll-out of its Bus Time website. In a new paper they report a measurable jump in ridership (around 2 percent) that works out to upwards of $6.3 million in new revenue over the three-year study period: