Data visualization for on-demand transit planning – GCN

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Data visualization for on-demand transport planning

A new cloud-based tool allows transport agencies to visualize data to see where on-demand transport can complement their existing fixed-route public transport network.

The tool, called On-demand Planning, is the first joint product offered by startup Remix since Via, a transit technology company, acquired it in March. It combines data from Via’s over 500 global partnerships and nearly 100 million trips with Remix’s intelligent transportation planning software to reveal service gaps, assess demographics and determine how on-demand programs can grow. fixed route services.

“A lot of our customers were asking for different ways to schedule on-demand services,” but they didn’t want to make decisions in a vacuum, said Tiffany Chu, senior vice president of Remix at Via. Agencies wanted to make sure on-demand services were relevant and complemented existing transit services, she said.

Fixed route transport services use vehicles such as buses and trains that run on regular routes at set times. In contrast, on-demand services are carpooling services provided by the city or county that could replace poorly performing fixed routes. According to the company, on-demand planning allows users to model on-demand transit operating costs, service area demographics, and service quality scenarios before implementation.

Using on-demand planning, customers can draw polygons around an area to obtain data on population density, demographics, and types of establishments, such as grocery stores, schools, and restaurants. hospitals. Customers enter data such as budget or the number of fixed-route or on-demand vehicles, and the tool automatically calculates the costs.

“As you drag and drop the area, visually on the map, the numbers will change to calculate in real time based on actual data from Via services,” Chu said.

In King County, Wash., Casey Gifford uses on-demand scheduling to determine access to Link Transit light rail stations in the area.

“Whenever we plan to define new services, our goal is to have as much information as possible in our service planning process,” said Gifford, Senior Innovative Mobility Planner at King County Metro. “Using Remix allows us to see many layers of data, such as our fixed-route transit network, priority census tracts, community demographics, and so on. Then when we design flexible services, we can take that data into account. “

On-demand scheduling also allows it to adjust parameters, such as hours of service, expected ridership, hourly costs, desired wait times, projected demand at hub locations so that it can match. focus on a design that meets the county’s objectives while respecting its constraints.

Previously, she and other county planners used multiple tools to achieve the same goals. For example, service planners rely heavily on geographic information systems, while Gifford said she often works with Google Maps. On-demand scheduling puts everything in one place and handles calculations, which planners had to do separately.

“It allows us to have all these layers of data and the ability to draw polygons and add – we call them hubs, I think Remix calls them points of interest – all on one platform. rather than having to look at the data layers on one platform and then have to develop the polygons on another platform, ”Gifford said, adding that the new service she is working on will likely launch in spring 2023. .

Another benefit of the technology, she added, is the ability to integrate data layers so planners can see priority census tracts and the fixed route system in one place. This is essential for delivering services to equity priority areas and places with less local bus services while getting people to high-capacity transport hubs, Gifford said.

Miami-Dade County is also using on-demand planning to determine where to replace poorly performing bus routes with flexible services, Chu said.

“What this leaves behind are many gaps – transit deserts, if you will. The people there who could have relied on that once-an-hour bus might not take it anymore, and it’s just a very hard call to make, ”Chu said. With the tool, planners can sketch the areas and manipulate them to see how the changes affect the areas in question.

Government-provided on-demand services are not new. Paratransit, for example, has been around for decades. The challenge for agencies, however, has been planning for these tech-free modes to collect and visualize data, according to a Nov. 2 report. blog post by the company.

“The goal is really to help agencies plan both flexible transit services and fixed route transit services in one place,” Chu said.

About the Author

Stephanie Kanowitz is a freelance writer based in Northern Virginia.

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