An Analysis of Real-Time Commuter Rail Information in Boston

Many prior studies have assessed the impacts of real-time vehicle location and arrival information provided via web-enabled and/or mobile devices to bus and heavy rail riders in urban areas, but prior research has not been conducted on a commuter rail system. Therefore, the objective of this research is to fill this gap in the literature by investigating the impacts of real-time information (RTI) on commuter rail passengers. The method is a three part statistical analysis that evaluates data collected from an on-board survey on two commuter rail lines in the Boston region one year after the release of RTI. The first analysis assesses overarching trends of RTI adoption, and the results show that one third of riders use real-time commuter rail information. This group of commuter rail riders also tends to use bus and subway RTI. The second part conducts difference of mean tests and regression analysis on passenger wait times, and the results reveal that riders’ use of commuter rail RTI is correlated with a decrease in self-reported “usual” wait times. The third part is an analysis of twelve quality of service indicators, which show limited relationship with RTI utilization. The results suggest that benefits of commuter rail RTI are modest, possibly due to the relative predictability of rail service. Despite this, many commuter rail riders choose to use this new information source.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This paper was sponsored by TRB committee AP070 Commuter Rail Transportation.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Transportation Research Board

    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Authors:
    • Brakewood, Candace
    • Rojas, Francisca
    • Zegras, P Christopher
    • Watkins, Kari
    • Robin, Joshua K
    • Sion, Jake
    • Jordan, Sam
  • Conference:
  • Date: 2014


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 17p
  • Monograph Title: TRB 93rd Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01516555
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 14-1268
  • Files: PRP, TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Jan 27 2014 2:29PM