Transit Service Reliability: Analyzing Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) Data For On-Time Performance and to Identify Conditions Leading to Service Degradation

Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) systems are computer-based vehicle tracking systems that function by measuring the real-time position of each vehicle and relaying this information back to a central location. AVL systems are most frequently used for fleet management to identify the location of vehicles for a variety of purposes including: improved dispatch, operation efficiency, and faster response times to disruptions in service, such as vehicle failure or unexpected congestion; quicker responses to threats of criminal activity; and improved data for future planning purposes.

The main objective of this scope of work is to conduct research on the use of AVL data for improving transit service reliability. This can be achieved by using better on-time performance techniques and by identifying conditions leading to service degradation that can assist transit agencies in providing higher quality of service.

This research will concentrate in two related areas for improving service reliability: 1) investigate the challenges and issues towards measuring, monitoring, and improving on-time performance and 2) identify service conditions observable in AVL data that precede service problems. Output products would include recommendations for improving on-time performance and a list of candidate factors or conditions that could lead to service degradation and how transit agencies could use this information. The results from this research may warrant the development of computerized tools as the next step.

For more information, contact Sean Barbeau at or Fabian Cevallos at

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