In the last decade, significant research efforts and technology have been dedicated to the development of microsimulation tools for a better representation of traffic systems. As a result, several commercial packages appeared and they are used nowadays in the detailed modelling of different transportation systems and operations for specific project evaluations and local designs, mostly within the urban context. After reviewing the specialized literature, we realized that most of these microsimulation tools are oriented to the movement of cars, leaving the public transportation systems as a complement, just for a realistic representation of the transportation system as a whole, but always oriented to simulate cars. In this paper, the objective is to provide guidelines on how to incorporate the necessary entities and components for a proper simulation of public transport systems in a microsimulation environment. Thus, the different approaches to simulate transit systems at a microlevel are discussed, highlighting the necessity of including stops, passengers and transit vehicles explicitly as entities within the microsimulation environment, for modelling transfer operations, control strategies, etc. Several examples are then provided to quantify the impact of such representations, for different cases and potential simulation platforms. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.