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The Quest for Accuracy in Predicting Bus Arrivals Has a New Friend

With better predictions, an app may help alleviate the urban annoyance of waiting for the bus that was supposed to arrive 10 minutes ago.
December 14, 2015, 10am PST | jwilliams | @jwillia22
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The Swyft team wants to make predictions of when your bus is actual arriving (versus the time its supposed to arrive) a bit more accurate. In an article on Medium, Swyft put San Francisco's transit information provider NextBus to the test to see how accurate its predictions for bus arrivals were at various points and times of day. What it found, as one would expect, was that during rush hour arrival times tended to be the most inaccurate. Things also get dicey when the bus arrival is scheduled 25 minutes or longer away.

NextBus accuracy plummets as it tries to predict arrivals further out in time. When a vehicle is 5 minutes away from its stop, NextBus is accurate 91% of the time. However, when we’re looking at predictions 25–30 minutes out, NextBus prediction accuracy drops to 59%.

Swyft hopes that its app, which relies on transit riders for real time data, can improve the accuracy of arrival schedules. The app, as described in the article, collects information from users about their ride that could translate into bus delays farther down the road. In tests riders have been willing to quickly report possible delays, often times before the official agency alerts go out.

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Published on Thursday, December 3, 2015 in Medium
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