Following up on Bruce’s post several weeks ago about the side effects of not having a schedule for RapidRide, I want to share information I collected for my masters research paper. The paper is structured around a survey of transit information in 24 cities, mostly in Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. While my research touches on all aspects of transit information, I wanted to pull out the relevant information about transit schedules to inform this discussion.
The table below contains relevant schedule and service information for the routes in the 24 cities I decided to include in the survey. I purposefully included a range of service types from local bus to subway. The table below is sorted by minimum service headway and includes other service related information that impacts service reliability.
Scanning the table a few things jump out:
- All 24 routes in the survey provides scheduled departure times when service headways are at or above every 10-minutes. Eight routes in the survey have scheduled departures times at or below 5-minutes.
- Of the four routes that use headway based schedules, two do so for headways at or below 10-minutes, one at or below 7-minutes and one at or below 4-minutes. All had real-time information available via smart phones or text message and real-time information at all stops, with the exception of Glasgow’s route 61 local bus which only had it at stops with shelters.
- Three of the four routes that used headways based schedules are bus routes, and operate in either mixed flow traffic (ROW C) or some combination of exclusive ROW and mixed flow (ROW B/C).
- Of the 23 routes with a schedule, 17 use a stem and leaf schedule design.
- Despite the availability of real-time information in some form for 21 of the routes, 20 routes provide exact departure times at all times and 23 routes provide exact departure times during off peak hours.
- All tram and subway routes, with the exception of Barcelona’s L3, provides scheduled departure times at all headways.
Using the data above I believe a summary of the schedule information practices in the 24 cities above can be laid out in a few guiding principles for schedule information. These can be applied regardless of mode but not necessarily route reliability.
- Stem and leaf schedules should be used. Go here to see an example.
- In general real-time information should be viewed as supplemental to schedule information, not a replacement for schedule information especially during off peak hours.
- Headway based schedules should primarily be used when time savings for riders from improved reliability due to active headway maintenance exceeds the added uncertainty or wait time due to lack of a set schedule.
- Schedules with departure times should be provided as long as service at that headway can be provided reliably. The minimum headway this occurs depends mostly on the ROW:
- above every 10 minutes for transit in ROW C (mixed flow)
- above every 7-10 minutes for transit in ROW B/C (exclusive and mixed flow)
- at all headways for transit in ROW A/B (grade separate and exclusive) unless headways are below every 5-minutes
- Service with headway based schedule and headways above ~7-minute should have fully developed, heavily marketed and easy to use real-time information at stops, but especially on cell phones via apps, website, text or voice.
Applying these principles to all routes and modes regardless of service brand or agency provides a consistent, rider concentric policy guide on how to provide schedule information to riders.