In scheduled transportation, a layover (also stopover, way station, or connection) is a point where a vehicle stops, with passengers possibly changing vehicle. In public transit, this typically takes a few minutes at a trip terminal. For air travel, where layovers are longer, passengers will exit the vehicle and wait in the terminal.
A layover for public transit is a short period of recovery time built into the schedule. Layovers are generally used for one or more of the following reasons : recover from delays, provide breaks for the drivers and/or allow enough time for a driver relief. Delays may be caused by earlier traffic congestion or excess boarding times.
In addition to being used at the end of vehicle trip, they can be scheduled at timing points during the trip, in which case they are often referred to as loading/unloading time. In this case, they serve as extra time provided for the loading and unloading of passengers, which is most often scheduled at busy stops.
Rail and long-distance bus
A layover in long-distance travel by train or inter-city bus is a break that a passenger must take between vehicles in a multi-vehicle trip. It is the time spent at a terminal after leaving one vehicle and waiting to board the next. Many inter-city and international trips include layovers.
As in mass transit, a layover in long-distance travel may provide for a break taken by the operator. A vehicle is said to be laying over after it finishes its route and is waiting prior to a return trip, or else it is taking a break to change crews or for the crew to rest.
In air travel, a stop or transfer (from one airplane to another) is considered to be a layover or connection up to a certain maximum allowed connecting time, and a stopover or break of journey otherwise. The maximum time depends on many variables, but for most U.S. and Canadian itineraries, it is 4 hours, and for most international itineraries (including any domestic stops), it is 24 hours. In general, layovers are cheaper than stopovers, because notionally layovers are incidental to traveling between two other points, whereas stopovers are among the traveler's destinations.
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- Transit Glossary - Sacramento Regional Transit
- Nicholas Kralev, Decoding Air Travel: A Guide to Saving on Airfare and Flying in Luxury, ISBN 146101543X, p. 23
- International Air Transport Association, "Passenger Glossary of Terms", Excel spreadsheet
- Airline Tariff Publishing Company, "Glossary" Connection Stopover