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2014 FPTA-FDOT-CUTR Workshop - OneBusAway - Enhancing Customer Service via Mobile Apps


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OneBusAway is a suite of open-source software for public transportation, including mobile apps for iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone. This presentation discusses the deployment of OneBusAway in Tampa and the customer service benefits to both transit riders as well as the transit agency, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART), including research results from Georgia Tech. Additionally, future work, including the expansion of OneBusAway to include Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority in the regional Tampa Bay Area, as well as new customer service tools upcoming in OneBusAway, is also discussed.

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2014 FPTA-FDOT-CUTR Workshop - OneBusAway - Enhancing Customer Service via Mobile Apps

  1. 1. Center for Urban Transportation Research | University of South Florida OneBusAway Enhancing customer service via mobile apps Sean J. Barbeau, Ph.D. Shannon Haney Walt Lenz
  2. 2. 2 Overview • Background • OneBusAway Interfaces • OneBusAway Tampa • Agency Benefits • Future Work
  3. 3. 3 What is OneBusAway? • What? Suite of tools that provides real-time bus/train tracking information – Open-source software project • Freely available to set up at your agency – Free to riders – Maintained by board, consortium of organizations • Universities • Transit Agencies • Vendors • Why? Make riding public transit easier by providing good information in usable formats – Research evaluates the impacts Real-time arrival info
  4. 4. 4 Where is OneBusAway? 4 Seattle WA: Original deployment New York, NY: Adapted for the MTA (Bus Time) Washington, DC: Beta Atlanta, GA: Launched in early fall 2013 Tampa, FL: Launched in late summer 2013 York, CA: Beta Bear Transit (UC Berkeley): Beta
  5. 5. 5 How do you use OneBusAway?
  6. 6. 6 ONEBUSAWAY INTERFACES How can riders access real-time transit info?
  7. 7. 7 OneBusAway – Mobile Apps Android Windows Phone & Windows 8 iPhone Support user location, route, stop contextual/personalized information All OPEN-SOURCE!
  8. 8. 8 OneBusAway - Websites Desktop browser Smartphone browserText-only browser
  9. 9. 9 ONEBUSAWAY TAMPA Expanding mobile transit apps to new cities
  10. 10. 10 Original OneBusAway mobile app design
  11. 11. 11 Multi-region architecture • Region information is stored in centralized server directory (i.e., Regions API) • Apps now find nearby regions using Regions API
  12. 12. 12 HART AVL OrbCAD SQL Server HART USF OneBusAway HART Buses HART Comm. Tower Trip/ Vehicle Updates USF OneBusAway server USF GTFS-realtime USF GTFS-realtime server Real-time info request Real-time info response Real-time info request Real-time info response Created GTFS-realtime feed for HART GTFS-realtime software is open-source :
  13. 13. 13
  14. 14. 14 TAMPA RESEARCH RESULTS How does OneBusAway effect transit riders?
  15. 15. 15 Survey of Tampa Riders Lead by Candace Brakewood and Dr. Kari Watkins at Georgia Tech  Objective: Quantify the impacts of real-time bus information on transit rider behavior and satisfaction in pilot deployment prior to public launch  Methodology: Before and after web-based survey with a non- user (control) group  Recruitment: HART website, HART email list & other email lists (USF); Free 1 day bus pass as incentive BEFORE SURVEY of Control Group (approx. 230 participants) AFTER SURVEY of Control Group (107 Non-Users) BEFORE SURVEY of OneBusAway Group (approx. 230 participants) AFTER SURVEY of OneBusAway Group (110 OneBusAway Users) “After” Survey results do not include: • 24 Participants in the Control Group that used OneBusAway • 27 Participants in the OneBusAway Group that did not use OneBusAway No OneBusAway
  16. 16. 16 Analysis of Usual Wait Times 3% 3% 31% 38% 26% 0% 50% 100% I spend much more time waiting I spend somewhat more time waiting I spend about the same time waiting I spend somewhat less time waiting I spend much less time waiting • Identical questions about usual wait time on regular route on the before and after surveys Usual Wait Time (minutes) Sample Size Before After Difference n Mean (SD) Mean (SD) Mean Control Group 102 10.71 10.50 -0.21 (3.88) (4.25) OneBusAway Group 107 11.36 9.56 -1.79 (4.06) (4.68) Comparison Difference of Means: t=2.65, two-tailed p=0.009 < 0.01 • Experimental group post-wave survey only: Has using OneBusAway changed the amount of time you wait at the bus stop? Bottom graphic: n=109. Figures rounded to the nearest whole percent. 16
  17. 17. 17 Analysis of Feelings While Waiting for the Bus • Experimental group post-wave survey only asked: Since you began using OneBusAway, do you feel more relaxed when waiting for the bus? • Identical questions about feelings while waiting asked on the before and after surveys 28% 40% 27% 4% 0% 50% 100% Agree strongly Agree somewhat Neutral Disagree somewhat Disagree strongly Bottom graphic: n=108; Figures rounded to the nearest whole percent. Control Group OneBusAway User Group Diff. in Gain Scores % Frequently + Always % Frequently + Always Wilcoxon Test Feelings Before After Before After W p-value Productive 11% 10% 10% 17% 6201 0.051 * Anxious 18% 19% 26% 25% 4548 0.082 * Relaxed 34% 34% 27% 25% 5518 0.592 Frustrated 24% 26% 25% 18% 4241 0.006 *** Significance: * p<0.10; ** p<0.05; *** p<0.01 17
  18. 18. 18 Analysis of Satisfaction • Experimental group post-wave survey only asked: Since you began using OneBusAway, do you feel more satisfied riding HART buses? • Identical questions about satisfaction asked on the before and after surveys 32% 38% 26% 3% 0% 50% 100% Agree strongly Agree somewhat Neutral Disagree somewhat Disagree strongly Bottom graphic: n=107 Figures rounded to the nearest whole percent. Control Group OneBusAway Group Diff. in Gain Scores % Satisfied % Satisfied Wilcoxon Test Before After Before After W p-value How frequently the bus comes 37% 41% 40% 44% 5812 0.459 How long you have to wait for the bus 39% 34% 36% 46% 6425 0.020 ** How often the bus arrives at the stop on time 54% 45% 45% 59% 7094 0.0001 *** How often you arrive at your destination on time 57% 53% 55% 63% 5835 0.236 How often you have to transfer buses to get to your destination 44% 42% 38% 36% 4916 0.342 Overall HART bus service 63% 59% 57% 58% 5717 0.410 Significance: * p<0.10; ** p<0.05; *** p<0.01 18
  19. 19. 19 Qualitative Results Riders Realize the Benefits • “Excellent program saves time in waiting for the buses.” • “I think the OneBusAway app is a life saver. Being able to know exactly when the bus is coming is helpful.” • “…Has really helped me catch busses that aren't originating at the Marion Transit Center. Often when catching busses along their route, I felt like it was the "wild, wild, west" with times, busses not showing, etc. OneBusAway helped make everything much more sensible and relaxing!!” • “Please keep One Bus Away going in Tampa. Thank you.” • “This is too useful to not be deployed soon. I have coworkers asking me how I'm so accurate on scheduling, and when I explain it, they are eagerly awaiting the service rollout so they can have it.” Requests to Continue OneBusAway Direct quotes from OneBusAway testers Bold & underline added for emphasis
  20. 20. 20 AGENCY BENEFITS How did OneBusAway Tampa effect HART?
  21. 21. 21 HART Benefits • Enhanced Reliability of Responses to Patrons • System-wide Access • Improved Call Response Time • Embrace Innovation Practices and Systems
  22. 22. 22 HART – Next Steps • Google Maps Integration (Completed) • SMS (text message) – flip phones, basic phones • IVR (phone call in) – access for visually impaired and those without cell or web • Advertising sales – revenue generation • Real-Time Service and Detour Alerts Integration (HyperAlert) • Addition of USF Bull Runner Real-Time Data
  23. 23. 23 FUTURE WORK What’s next?
  24. 24. 24 Feedback from riders • Currently, OneBusAway users can submit feedback via email, which results in useful information: – “Every day since the new rotation the 37 route for stop 5930 scheduled for 5:23pm is always late. I miss my connection at Brandon mall.” – “On the corner of Busch Ave and Nebraska Ave the bus drivers stop there because of the detour on Yukon st. Every time I stand at the corner no mater what side of Nebraska I am on the bus drivers tell me I am supposed to be on the other side.” – “Bus shelter at w palm drive and a Howard av needs trash pick up please” • However, the variety of information can be difficult to triage and share with the various responsible departments/agencies
  25. 25. 25 Future improvements • Better crowd-source info – Examining integration with services like “” • Better analytics – What stops riders are using • Working with PSTA to expand regional coverage of OneBusAway Tampa
  26. 26. 26 PSTA Benefits • PSTA currently shares real-time info via: – web site – voice call – text messaging • But, no mobile apps* *One 3rd party Windows Phone app exists
  27. 27. 27 PSTA Benefits • By joining OneBusAway Tampa, PSTA gets: – mobile apps for iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone – regional transit info in a single system, with HART and any other agencies that join – enhanced customer feedback via the app
  28. 28. 28 CONCLUSIONS The takeaways
  29. 29. 29 Conclusions • Mobile apps (e.g., OneBusAway) and real-time data can create a revolution in transit customer service • Tampa research indicates significant improvements in the waiting experience: – Decreases in self-reported usual wait times – Decreases in negative feelings, particularly frustration – Increases in satisfaction with wait times • Real-world benefits to HART and Tampa transit riders
  30. 30. 30 Resources • OneBusAway - • Transit Agencies - • Developers - • Webinar on OneBusAway Multi-region - • APTA presentation on Tampa experiment -
  31. 31. 31 Past studies • Real-time transit information has many benefits – Shorter perceived wait time [1] – Shorter actual wait time[1] – Lowers learning curve for new riders [2] – Increased ridership (maybe?) [3] – Increased feeling of safety (e.g., at night) [5][6] • Riders prefer accessing real-time transit info via mobile apps[1] [1] Kari Edison Watkins, Brian Ferris, Alan Borning, G. Scott Rutherford, and David Layton (2011), "Where Is My Bus? Impact of mobile real-time information on the perceived and actual wait time of transit riders," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Vol. 45 pp. 839-848. [2] C. Cluett, S. Bregman, and J. Richman (2003). "Customer Preferences for Transit ATIS," Federal Transit Administration. Available at [3] Lei Tang and Piyushimita Thakuriah (2012), "Ridership effects of real-time bus information system: A case study in the City of Chicago," Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies, Vol. 22 pp. 146-161. [4] Aaron Steinfeld and John Zimmerman, "Interviews with transit riders in San Francisco and Seattle," ed, 2010. [5] Brian Ferris, Kari Watkins, and Alan Borning (2010), "OneBusAway: results from providing real-time arrival information for public transit," in Proceedings of the 28th International CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, pp. 1807-181 [6] A. Gooze, K. Watkins, and A. Borning (2013), "Benefits of Real-Time Information and the Impacts of Data Accuracy on the Rider Experience," in Transportation Research Board 92nd Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., January 13, 2013. Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger
  32. 32. 32 Thanks! Sean J. Barbeau, Ph.D. 813.974.7208 Shannon Haney 813.384.6602 Walt Lenz 727.540.1878 Thanks to Candace Brakewood and Kari Watkins for survey slides!
  33. 33. 33
  34. 34. 34 Challenge • Custom mobile apps are expensive – Some estimates > $150,000k for a single platform [7] – Doesn’t include maintenance cost • Implementing and maintaining custom apps on all popular smartphone platforms is cost-prohibitive • Open data is good, but doesn’t always result in apps by 3rd party developers • How can we cost-effectively launch mobile transit apps in new cities? [7] Larry Lauvray "iPad App Development Cost - A Breakdown." Propelics Blog, Vol. Accessed at:
  35. 35. 35 New OneBusAway Region Checklist  Transit Data in GTFS format  AVL system that provides arrival estimates  Implement a GTFS-realtime (or SIRI) feed  Set up a OneBusAway Server  Do some quality-control testing  Launch OneBusAway apps in new city! • Via request to onebusway-developers group!
  36. 36. 36 Tampa Study Limitations • Length of Study – June 2013 BRT opening in Tampa • Representativeness of sample to all HART riders – More Caucasian respondents – Higher household income levels – Higher levels of car ownership (but fewer licenses) • Applicability beyond Tampa – Limited to transit-dependent populations BRT Stop 36
  37. 37. 37 OneBusAway – Desktop Website
  38. 38. 38 OneBusAway – Desktop Website