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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Using Automated Data Collection Systems to Improve Public Transport Performance: Applications at Transport for London

Dr. Nigel H.M. Wilson, civil and environmental engineering professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, presented "Using Automated Data Collection Systems to Improve Public Transport Performance: Applications at Transport for London" on March 6, 2013.

Automatic data collection systems, including automatic vehicle location systems, automatic passenger counting systems, advanced customer information systems, and electronic fare payment and ticketing systems, are becoming ubiquitous in large public transport systems and are starting to have an impact on the quality and availability of information for service and operations planning, service control, and measuring the resultant service quality delivered to transit passengers. While the impacts of these advances are already apparent in many systems, there is the potential for much deeper impact in the future.

The power and cost-effectiveness of information technology continues to advance and will offer opportunities to develop and apply more ambitious models, which should positively affect many facets of the performance of public transport systems. This presentation summarized recent applications of quantitative methods based on richer automated data collection systems in public transport developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for Transport for London and discussed the potential for further enhancement of critical public transport agency functions in the future.

About the Speaker

Nigel Wilson is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at MIT. His research and teaching areas focus on urban public transportation, including topics related to the operation, analysis, planning, and management of public transport systems, and he teaches MIT graduate subjects in public transport systems.

Professor Wilson directs a major long-term collaborative research program with urban public transport agencies. The longest active collaboration, now in its eighth year, is with Transport for London and is focused on making better use of contactless smart card data and other automatically collected data to support decision making throughout the agency. A second ongoing collaboration is with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which has a similar focus. Nigel Wilson is also a member of BRT Center of Excellence funded by the Volvo Research and Education Foundation and led by Professor Juan Carlos Munoz at the Catolica Universidad in Santiago de Chile.

Previous collaborations under the MIT Transit Research Program have included the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority focused on Tren Urbano, a new urban rail system in San Juan, and the Chicago Transit Authority, which focused on helping CTA use technology and associated data to plan and control its services more effectively.

Wilson has written more than 100 articles and reports on the results of his research.

During sabbatical leaves from MIT, Wilson worked in three large transit agencies—the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, London Transport, and Metro Transit in Minnesota—and has served as a consultant to a number of other North American transit authorities. He has been a visiting faculty member at Stanford University, University College London, Napier University in Edinburgh, Delft University of Technology, and the University of Minnesota. Wilson received a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Imperial College, University of London and master's and doctoral degrees, in civil engineering and transportation systems respectively, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Read the news story and view the video from this event.