How long to wait? Predicting bus arrival time with mobile phone based participatory sensing

Pengfei Zhou, Yuanqing Zheng, Mo Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

134 Citations (Scopus)


The bus arrival time is primary information to most city transport travelers. Excessively long waiting time at bus stops often discourages the travelers and makes them reluctant to take buses. In this paper, we present a bus arrival time prediction system based on bus passengers' participatory sensing. With commodity mobile phones, the bus passengers' surrounding environmental context is effectively collected and utilized to estimate the bus traveling routes and predict bus arrival time at various bus stops. The proposed system solely relies on the collaborative effort of the participating users and is independent from the bus operating companies, so it can be easily adopted to support universal bus service systems without requesting support from particular bus operating companies. Instead of referring to GPS-enabled location information, we resort to more generally available and energy efficient sensing resources, including cell tower signals, movement statuses, audio recordings, etc., which bring less burden to the participatory party and encourage their participation. We develop a prototype system with different types of Android-based mobile phones and comprehensively experiment with the NTU campus shuttle buses as well as Singapore public buses over a 7-week period. The evaluation results suggest that the proposed system achieves outstanding prediction accuracy compared with those bus operator initiated and GPS supported solutions. We further adopt our system and conduct quick trial experiments with London bus system for 4 days, which suggests the easy deployment of our system and promising system performance across cities. At the same time, the proposed solution is more generally available and energy friendly.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6636304
Pages (from-to)1228-1241
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Bus arrival time prediction
  • cellular-based tracking
  • mobile phones
  • participatory sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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