Last month, Georgia Tech's own Dr. Kari E. Watkins was interviewed live on KCBS RADIO, San Francisco, regarding her research and development of the OneBusAway program in Seattle and Tacoma, Washington.
Currently serving as an assistant professor at Georgia Tech, Dr. Wakins' work centers on the psychology of waiting and situational effects on waiting. In the interview, she noted that wait times generally appear longer than they actually are, and that the lack of knowledge as to the actual arrival time can cause anxiety or boredom in transit users. To combat this, the OneBusAway program was developed to provide commuters with real-time transit updates. In Seattle, where the application was first developed, OneBusAway works by gathering information from already-established public information sources and distributing it to transit users through phone lines, smart phone applications, and a website. In a recent survey after its installation, 90% of commuters felt more satisfied with their commute experience because the information was made available.
When asked about OneBusAway's potential applications to MARTA, Dr. Watkins noted that while commute tracking options exist in multiple locales, what differentiates OneBusAway is that through it, researchers actually analyze and study the results of ridership and associated variables. While there was some local variance, on the whole, it was found that having transit progress information available to the public greatly increased satisfaction and decreased anxiety of commuters.
NCTSPM is proud to have Dr. Watkins as a part of our research team. Read her full biography here.
The full audio interview may be found here.