An Exploratory Analysis of Intercity Travel Patterns Using Backend Data from a Transit Smartphone Application

Smartphone applications (“apps”) providing transit information are commonly used in urban areas. Many of these apps are available in multiple cities and automatically detect a user’s location via the location services in the smartphone. The multi-city nature of these apps provides a unique opportunity to understand how transit riders seek information as they travel between cities. The objective of this paper is to identify intercity travelers to/from the New York metropolitan region using one month of backend data from an application called “Transit”. Intercity travelers are identified based on the number of days each user has opened the app inside and outside of the New York region. To further categorize intercity travelers, a manual classification method is implemented and distinct subgroups of intercity travelers are identified, including visitors and New York residents. Then, the manual classification method was validated by comparing the results to self-reported home locations stored in the app by a small number of users. However, the validation only confirmed a small number of visitors as having the correct home city. This may be because only one month of the Transit app data was used or because only a small number of users stored their home location in the app. In conclusion, this exploratory analysis utilized a rich new data source and has identified many areas to refine the methodology in future analyses, such as considering consecutive days in the same city, studying travelers’ pattern by day of the week, and validating the results using travel surveys.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This paper was sponsored by TRB committee ABJ10 Standing Committee on National Transportation Data Requirements and Programs.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Transportation Research Board

    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Authors:
    • Ghahramani, Niloofar
    • Brakewood, Candace
    • Peters, Jonathan
  • Conference:
  • Date: 2017


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 17p
  • Monograph Title: TRB 96th Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01622547
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 17-01212
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Jan 17 2017 9:47AM