Washington, DC is ranked second among cities in terms of highest public transit commuters in the United States, with approximately 9% of the working population using the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Metrobuses to commute. Deducing accurate travel times of these metrobuses is an important task for transit authorities to provide reliable service to its patrons. This study, using Artificial Neural Networks (ANN), developed prediction models for transit buses to assist decision-makers to improve service quality and patronage. For this study, we used six months of Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) and Automatic Passenger Counting (APC) data for six Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) bus routes operating in Washington, DC. We developed regression models and Artificial Neural Network (ANN) models for predicting travel times of buses for different peak periods (AM, Mid-Day and PM). Our analysis included variables such as number of served bus stops, length of route between bus stops, average number of passengers in the bus, average dwell time of buses, and number of intersections between bus stops. We obtained ANN models for travel times by using approximation technique incorporating two separate algorithms: Quasi-Newton and Levenberg-Marquardt. The training strategy for neural network models involved feed forward and errorback processes that minimized the generated errors. We also evaluated the models with a Comparison of the Normalized Squared Errors (NSE). From the results, we observed that the travel times of buses and the dwell times at bus stops generally increased over time of the day. We gathered travel time equations for buses for the AM, Mid-Day and PM Peaks. The lowest NSE for the AM, Mid-Day and PM Peak periods corresponded to training processes using Quasi-Newton algorithm, which had 3, 2 and 5 perceptron layers, respectively. These prediction models could be adapted by transit agencies to provide the patrons with accurate travel time information at bus stops or online.

Publication Date


Publication Type



Transit Issues

Digital Object Identifier


MTI Project



Travel Time, Artificial Neural Network, Quasi-Newton Optimization Algorithm, Order Selection, Bus Transit


Artificial Intelligence and Robotics | Infrastructure | Transportation

1943-Arhin-RB-Predicting-Bus-Travel-Times.pdf (924 kB)
Research Brief (828 kB)