RT29 – Kari Watkins – Advances in transit customer information

RT29 – Kari Watkins – Advances in transit customer information

Researching Transit – Episode 29

Published: July 2021

Keywords: public transport, transit, customer information, GTFS, real-time, gps, reliability

This is the seventh episode in Researching Transit’s Handbook of Public Transport Research Series. Links to the book can be found at the end of the notes.

In this episode, Professor Graham Currie speaks to Kari E. Watkins, Frederick Law Olmsted Associate Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). She is also the lead author of Chapter 21 of the Handbook of Public Transport Research: Advances in transit customer information.

Associate Professor Watkins is the director of the T-SCORE (Transit-Serving Communities Optimally, Responsible, and Efficiently) Center, a US DOT-funded program that brings together several universities to conduct research into the future of transit. T-SCORE’s mission is to understand ridership trends and the underlying drivers of change, and identify ways to position transit as a robust part of any future transportation system. An early contribution of the program is the development of future transportation scenarios, based on expert interviews.

Prior to her current role at Georgia Tech, Watkins completed a PhD at the University of Washington in Seattle. During her PhD she co-developed the real-time transit app OneBusAway. The app was among the first to harness smartphones and real-time transit information technologies, in an app format capable of providing users with up-to-date transit vehicle location data.

Watkins continues to undertake research in transit customer information. Such information is critical, she says, for facilitating transit use by giving potential users the information they need to plan their journeys on transit when other alternatives are available.  As its title suggests, Chapter 21 of the Handbook reviews the technologies, standards and apps making data about transit more readily available for both customers and planners. Three advances are focal points: the opening up of GTFS, the widespread adoption of smartphones, and data standardisation. Together, this has led to the emergence of reusable smart-phone integrated applications that can be readily adapted for new agencies/systems. Data standardisation has been key to disseminating information for agencies that might not have in-house resources to provide their information otherwise.

The Chapter concludes with a look to the future and potentials of open and standardised transit data, including efficient microtransit and adaptation to other modes of transportation such as bikeshare, that often interface with public transport.

Find out more about Kari E. Watkins and her work:

Find out more about the Handbook of Public Transport Research and Kari’s chapter here:



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Music from this episode is from https://www.purple-planet.com

  • Date July 25, 2021
  • Tags Podcast