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This article is about the transport term. For other uses, see Layover (disambiguation).
Buses layover at LACMTA’s Warner Center Transit Hub

In scheduled transportation, a layover (also 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.

Public transit[edit]

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. [1][2] They also serve to allow time to pass by if a service is running early, to prevent an arrival at a timing point before the scheduled arrival time.

Rail and long-distance bus[edit]

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, while a so-called stopover is a substantially longer break in the flight itinerary. 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.[3][4][5]

See also[edit]