Date of Award

6-2017

Degree Name

MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering

Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Advisor

Anurag Pande

Abstract

Public transportation offers a crucial solution to the travel demand in light of national and global economic, energy, and environmental challenges. If implemented effectively, public transit offers an affordable, convenient, and sustainable transportation mode. Implementation of new technologies for information-harvesting may lead to more effective transit operations. This study examines the potential of automated data collection technologies to analyzing and understand the origin-destination flow patterns, which is essential for transit route planning and stop location placement.

This thesis investigates the collection and analysis of data of passengers onboard San Luis Obispo Transit buses in February and March 2017 using Bluetooth (BT) and automatic passenger counter (APC) data. Five BlueMAC detectors were placed on SLO Transit buses to collect Bluetooth data. APC data was obtained from San Luis Obispo Transit. The datasets were used to establish a data processing method to exclude invalid detections, to identify and process origin and destination trips of passengers, and to make conclusions regarding passenger behavior. The filtering methods were applied to the Bluetooth data to extract counts of unique passenger information and to compare the filtered data to the ground-truth APC data. The datasets were also used to study the San Luis Obispo Downtown Farmer’s Market and its impact on transit ridership demand. The investigation revealed that after carefully employing the filters on BT data there were no consistent patterns in differences between unique passenger counts obtained from APC data and the BT data. As a result, one should be careful in employing BT data for transit OD estimation. Not every passenger enables Bluetooth or owns a Bluetooth device, so relying on the possession of Bluetooth-enabled devices may not lead to a random sample, resulting in misleading travel patterns. Based on the APC data, it was revealed that transit ridership is 40% higher during the days during which Higuera Street in Downtown San Luis Obispo is used for Farmer’s Market – a classic example of tactical urbanism. Increase in transit ridership is one of the aspects of tactical urbanism that may be further emphasized. With rapidly-evolving data collection technologies, transit data collection methods could expand beyond the traditional onboard survey. The lessons learned from this study could be expanded to provide a robust and detailed data source for transit operations and planning.

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