Waiting time perceptions at transit stops and stations: Effects of basic amenities, gender, and security

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Waiting time in transit travel is often perceived negatively and high-amenity stops and stations are becoming increasingly popular as strategies for mitigating transit riders’ aversion to waiting. However, beyond recent evidence that realtime transit arrival information reduces perceived waiting time, there is limited empirical evidence as to which other specific station and stop amenities can effectively influence user perceptions of waiting time. To address this knowledge gap, the authors conducted a passenger survey and video-recorded waiting passengers at different types of transit stops and stations to investigate differences between survey-reported waiting time and video-recorded actual waiting time. Results from the survey and video observations show that the reported wait time on average is about 1.21 times longer than the observed wait time. Regression analysis was employed to explain the variation in riders’ reported waiting time as a function of their objectively observed waiting time, as well as station and stop amenities, weather, time of the day, personal demographics, and trip characteristics. Based on the regression results, most waits at stops with no amenities are perceived at least 1.3 times as long as they actually are. Basic amenities including benches and shelters significantly reduce perceived waiting times. Women waiting for more than 10 min in perceived insecure surroundings report waits as dramatically longer than they really are, and longer than do men in the same situation. The authors recommend a focus on providing basic amenities at stations and stops as broadly as possible in transit systems, and a particular focus on stops on low-frequency routes and in less safe areas for security measures.