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The term headway has been figured out not to be the correct term for this content.
The "interval" tag proposal was accepted and can be found here: key:interval.
Proposal status: Obsoleted (inactive)
Proposed by: Vicuna
Tagging: headway=10
Applies to: route
Definition: Proposal to define the service quality of public transport routes

Draft started: 2013-08-01

Why headway?

One of my aims is to get better information about public transport in OSM. With the growing numbers of bus routes included in the database it is getting difficult to extract important and "usable" routes. Some routes are only served once or twice a day, others hourly or every 20 minutes. Several proposals were discussed in various OSM Wiki pages (e.g. to classify whether it is a school bus or weekend line).

The headway tag is a very accurate information about the service quality of a public transport route. With this it is also possible to see differences between subway or tram systems and calculate operational data (together with route lengths etc.).

What is needed at least?

My proposal is to have at least the "headway"-tag for every route. If possible also other time slices could be added, e.g. "headway:evening" or "headway:sunday".

Isn't the headway changing too often?

I don't think so. My experience of the last years is that bus routes change their served streets and stops more often than their basic headway. The headway tag is very simple to understand and not that complex as a complete timetable.

Which value should be used?

There are already a lot of headway-tags in OSM and it seems to be the best to use minutes. Some users introduced an hour info "2:00", but for calculation reasons I propose to use only minutes (120). A problem occurs e.g. in Maperitive if you want to classify all routes going every 2 hours or more often (e.g. headway<121).


Value Description
headway=10 The route departs every 10 minutes. For the "basic" headway tag the best value should be taken, unless the peak hour service lasts only 2-3 hours (see headway:peak). But if the service is offered from 6-10 and 13-18 o'clock it should be used.
headway=120 The route departs every 2 hours.
headway=720 The route departs twice daily. Usually this is not every 12 hours, but a school bus line departing at 7 and 13 o'clock.
headway=1440 The route departs daily.
headway:evening=15 The route departs every 15 minutes in the evening. I think it should not be defined what "evening" exactly means. This depends on the local appreciation.
headway:peak=5 The route departs every 5 minutes during rush hour. This should only be used if the peak hour is very short (e.g. 7-9 and 16-18 o'clock). If it covers most of the daylight time, the headway base tag should be filled with peak hour headway.
headway:midday=15 The route departs during noon every 15 minutes. This should only be used, if the midday operation is less time than the peak hour operation.
headway:sunday=30 The route departs every 30 minutes on Sunday.

More Info

Interesting public transport statistics on my user page: User:Vicuna


Using Maperitive the following map was created showing the headways of bus (magenta) and tram (red) lines in and around Braunschweig (Germany):

PublicTransportHeadways RuralBus BraunschweigArea.png