On Designing Day Ahead and Same Day Ridership Level Prediction Models for City-Scale Transit Networks Using Noisy APC Data


The ability to accurately predict public transit ridership demand benefits passengers and transit agencies. Agencies will be able to reallocate buses to handle under or over-utilized bus routes, improving resource utilization, and passengers will be able to adjust and plan their schedules to avoid overcrowded buses and maintain a certain level of comfort. However, accurately predicting occupancy is a non-trivial task. Various reasons such as heterogeneity, evolving ridership patterns, exogenous events like weather, and other stochastic variables, make the task much more challenging. With the progress of big data, transit authorities now have access to real-time passenger occupancy information for their vehicles. The amount of data generated is staggering. While there is no shortage in data, it must still be cleaned, processed, augmented, and merged before any useful information can be generated. In this paper, we propose the use and fusion of data from multiple sources, cleaned, processed, and merged together, for use in training machine learning models to predict transit ridership. We use data that spans a 2-year period (2020-2022) incorporating transit, weather, traffic, and calendar data. The resulting data, which equates to 17 million observations, is used to train separate models for the trip and stop level prediction. We evaluate our approach on real-world transit data provided by the public transit agency of Nashville, TN. We demonstrate that the trip level model based on Xgboost and the stop level model based on LSTM outperform the baseline statistical model across the entire transit service day.

2022 IEEE International Conference on Big Data (Big Data)