Tracking The Trials And Tribulations of a Traveler: Using Smartphones for better Transportation Planning

Dr. Andre Carrel
Post Doctoral Associate, MIT CTL
18 November 2015 – 5pm

Andre is a postdoctoral associate at the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics. Previously, he obtained a Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, advised by Prof. Joan Walker and Prof. Raja Sengupta. His interests lie in the use of emerging data sources, high-dimensional data sets, mobile and cloud computing for the analysis of supply chains and transportation systems. He has been the recipient of a Dwight D. Eisenhower fellowship and the Charles William Koch leadership award for exceptional academic achievement and leadership qualities.

Dr. Andre Carrel, gave the second seminar in the MISI Mobility Center of Expertise series of outreach events. The seminar was based on Andre’s most recent work.


“Tracking The Trials And Tribulations of a Traveler:
Using Smartphones for better Transportation Planning”

Mobile technology is having a profound impact on the transportation sector: On one hand, it is transforming the way that people interact, socialize and access goods and services, and on the other hand, it is enabling researchers to collect data on travel behavior with a richness that would previously have been very difficult to achieve. In his presentation, Andre Carrel discussed this in the context of understanding the behavior of public transportation riders. A specific focus was made on the San Francisco Travel Quality Study, which he conducted in 2013 with transit riders in San Francisco. The study demonstrated how smartphone location data, coupled with automatic vehicle location data and daily phone-based surveys can be leveraged to understand the dynamics of transit rider satisfaction and to identify the influence of negative experiences on riders’ willingness to abandon transit. Among other insights, the results show that the assumption that in-vehicle travel time is generally more onerous than out-of-vehicle wait time – which is a traditional paradigm of transit planning – may need to be rethought. Thanks to the high resolution of the data, it is seen that in-vehicle delays contribute significantly to dissatisfaction and ridership loss, while the experience of out-of-vehicle wait time has changed due to the availability of real-time information on smartphones.