MBTA Bus Performance Project

Data Capture and Analysis


Work collaboratively with MBTA staff to:

Specifically, you will


Use MBTA-provided data to generate a comparison of on-time bus performance before and after the implementation of significant MBTA service changes that went into effect over the course of spring and summer 2013 (specific dates, by route, are available).

Project Tiers

The project will use a combination of SmartBusMart and other tools to read the data set, extract information relevant to the performance metrics used by the MBTA, and to compute the metrics for the time periods surrounding the service change. (MBTA’s reporting database, SmartBusMart, has the ability to ingest and analyze time-series data.)


Detailed Historical Bus Vehicle Positioning Information: Four years worth’s of historical bus location information from the MBTA’s SmartBusMart system.

The data sets are stored at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC). Information on how to access them will be available at the beginning of the project.

Project logistics

Preferred past experience


Several years ago, the MBTA started a project to install the now-familiar signs that tell travelers when the next bus, or train will be arriving. During the early stages of the project, the MBTA also made the real-time vehicle information available to smartphone app developers, posting a set of public data feeds and running an app development contest. As a result, Boston became the first city in the nation with a set of smartphone apps providing an instant look at real time bus and train arrival updates.

From this project, the MBTA has accumulated several years of data showing the minute-by-minute position of dozens of buses and trains, along with traffic congestion measures, service alerts, weather data, and other pertinent information. Project participants are confident that the data holds the answers to some important questions about how to make mass transit in Greater Boston more efficient and convenient. This project is your chance to help the MBTA find out.

During the course of the project, you will work with mentors from the MBTA and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to identify questions to answer using the data, assemble the information and tools needed to come up with answers, and perform the analysis.