Provision of real-time transit information can lead to benefits for travelers, such as lower wait times at transit stops. In order to better quantify the impacts, researchers developed a smartphone-based multimodal application that disseminated real-time information to transit riders including bus location, bus speed, estimated arrival time, distance to the transit stop, weather, and road condition information. The app was used to study trips made by travelers on Mountain Line Transit Authority Route 38 in Morgantown, West Virginia. Field data was collected on trips made by ten participants to estimate the effectiveness of trips made with the multimodal app in terms of travel time reduction, increases in overall transit service area (geographic area where users can comfortably access transit), and capacity as measured by an origin-destination based supply index for transit.
Field data from a total of 100 transit trips were gathered, with 50 trips from the intervention group (with the multimodal app) and 50 trips without the app (control group). Participants took transit trips at different times of the day (peak and off-peak) and on different weekdays to capture temporal effects. Three performance measures were used to assess the benefits of the multimodal app:
- Stop buffer area ratio (the proportion of circular area served by transit stops when considering waiting time)
- Coverage area improvement for the route
- Transit supply index, which combines route connectivity and service availability to calculate the improvement in origin-destination based transit supply
- The analyses of the results obtained from the field experiments indicated that the average transit stop wait time for trips made with the app (1 minute 43 seconds) was significantly lower than the control group (4 minutes 37 seconds). This difference corresponds a reduction of average wait time by 2 minutes 55 seconds, or 63 percent, when using the app.
- Stop buffer area ratio, the proportion of the origin zone area served by transit stops, increased by 9 to 23 percent as a result of the multimodal app usage.
- Transit service coverage area in terms of the length of the road network covered by the bus service was 32 miles, representing the part of the network accessible via a walk of five minutes or less, before using the app. The total length of the covered road network increased to 44 miles, based on an equivalent eight-minute walk accounting for the three minutes saved on wait time. This represents a 37 percent increase in coverage area comparing the scenario with the multimodal app to the control scenario.
- The calculated origin-destination based transit supply index indicated that the network-wide transit supply increased by up to 14 percent with the use of the multimodal app.