Empirical Study on the Accuracy and Precision of Automatic Passenger Counting in European Bus Services

Alessandro Olivo1, Giulio Maternini2, Benedetto Barabino1, 2, 3, *
1 Department of Civil, Environment and Architecture Engineering (DICAAR), University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy
2 Department of Civil, Environment, Land and Architecture Engineering and Matematics (DICATAM), University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy
3 Department of Studies and Research, CTM SpA, Cagliari, Italy

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Creative Commons License
© 2019 Olivo et al

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Civil, Environment, Land and Architecture Engineering and Matematics (DICATAM), University of Brescia, Italy; Tel: +39 0303711306;



An Automatic Passenger Counting system represents a powerful resource for an efficient operational planning of public transport companies, but it gives rise to several challenges such as accuracy and precision, which must be addressed in order to operate successfully.


Unlike previous studies in the North American bus market, this paper evaluates the accuracy and precision of an infrared APC system in a European bus market.


The accuracy is evaluated by considering: (i) the presence/absence of the error and its direction; (ii) the magnitude of the error disregarding the direction and (iii) some tests on the nature of the error. The precision is evaluated by direct and inverse regression models and some t-test on biases.


As for accuracy, a small average magnitude of the errors is observed. In addition, the APC accurately measures alighting passengers, while it presents a slight tendency to systematically undercount boarding passengers. As for precision, the amount of measurement error due to the APC system exists and, even if it is relatively contained, it is statistically significant for boarding and alighting passengers.


Although one type of APC system is evaluated only on one bus, it seems quite accurate for recording alighting passengers, whereas a correction factor should be applied for boarding passengers.

Keywords: European buses, Infrared APC, APC’s accuracy, APC’s magnitude Error, APC’s precision, Inverse regression.