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Discovering the space–time dimensions of schedule padding and delay from GTFS and real-time transit data


Schedule padding is the extra time added to transit schedules to reduce the risk of delay. Where there is more random delay, there should be more schedule padding. While schedule padding is a product of transit planners, a method for detecting when and where it exists could provide valuable feedback as transit agencies continually develop their networks. By analyzing transit schedules and real-time vehicle location data at the level of stop-to-stop segments, we can locate padding in space and time and identify the places that may be most effected by stochastic delay. Such information could be used to target delay-reduction interventions such as fare prepayment or transit-only rights of way. The Toronto Transit Commission is used as a case study, and initial results suggest that highly delayed segments appear mostly in the expected, but some surprising, places.

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Correspondence to Michael J. Widener.

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Wessel, N., Widener, M.J. Discovering the space–time dimensions of schedule padding and delay from GTFS and real-time transit data. J Geogr Syst 19, 93–107 (2017).

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  • Public transportation
  • Geographic information systems
  • Scheduling
  • Transit networks
  • Planning
  • Spatiotemporal analysis

JEL Classification

  • O18
  • R42