Office of the President

IMPROVING PUBLIC TRANSIT SCHEDULES

From a human factors standpoint, reading and deciphering transit schedules is a highly complex set of tasks involving many phases of human information processing. These steps are even more challenging if the user is elderly, has poor vision or not accustomed to reading and processing busy timetables.  New Jersey Transit Corporation operates 200 bus routes, many with complicated patterns and schedules, and frequent changes. Recognizing that reading transit schedules can be a stressful, frustrating experience for some people, and in fact may actually deter potential customers, New Jersey Transit, througn the New Jersey Department of Transportation Research Program, selected NJIT to determine how well current timetables serve both bus riders and non-bus users.

The research team, led by One-Jang Jeng, assistant professor of imdustrial and manufacturing engineering, George Fallat, deputy director of IITC, and Darius Sollohub, associate professor of architecture, also had the goal of identifying the major deficiencies in the current timetable design and developing more effective layout schemes.  Compare the old schedule with the new version developed by the research team.

The team recommended a number of changes, such as inclusion of zone information and display of time point location names together with time points, to make bus schedules more readable and user friendly. However, the researchers still found a high overall error rate on performance testing. They suggest that the amount of information on the schedules is overwhelming and that an effort to reduce this information would improve the readability of the schedules.