Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Transit + Technology = Algorithm of Multiple Possibilities

If you are perturbed that the $230 transit benefit was not extended (the monthly benefit went back to $125 and the New York Times opinion page is not happy either), here are tools for transit and transit boosters.

According to 'I Hate the Blue Line' and Other Things Transit Systems Can Learn From Twitter, an article that appeared on the Atlantic's Cities page, transit systems should employ the free customer service data that twitter provides. What are the riders praising or complaining about? The answers are easier to find on twitter than via conventional tools, such as carefully-worded customer surveys, the author argues. I would agree that is the case in places where ridership is well connected - to apps and smartphones.

[Cute animal sculptures in Portland.]

What do people want in terms of public transportation? View this video from Kansas City. Lots of transit love and energy even from people accustomed to using their cars.

Penguins: Better than Mad Men?

And if you have 30 seconds of work time to waste, I mean be productive, view a transit ad from Belgium. Cute, has penguins; need I say more?

American Public Transportation Association
APTA's public transit ridership numbers are out and the numbers are up. What is causing the momentum in favor of transit? Thrift, environmental consciousness, quality improvements, free wifi, desire for a vacation from doing traffic battle before and after work?
This is a 2.0 percent increase over the same quarter last year, representing an increase of nearly 52 million trips. Ridership in all public transportation modes increased, led by light rail which increased by 5.8 percent.

This is also the first time in three years that ridership has increased for all three quarters. The ridership increase is attributed to a number of factors including high gas prices, improved real time passenger information, and a recovering economy.
The full ridership report is available. I usually read the whole thing, but this time I relied on the summary. If you have an extra 10 minutes or so, there are always thought-provoking details in the report as well as interesting statistics by mode and locations. APTA also posted an explanation about the transit benefit reduction and the increase in the parking benefit.

Can Technology Boost Ridership?

The answer is yes if the technology provides real-time information regionally. The Daily Iowan reports that ridership is up five percent in the one month since real-time information monitors were installed around the University of Iowa's campus - even in dorms. The article, Officials: Bus monitors help to increase ridership, goes into more detail, but implies that the transit system is the same otherwise, so that the jump in business is attributable to the one significant change. Thank you to the TransitWire for the link.

Interesting blog post from Planetizen about mapping health, commuting, income and educational patterns across the United States.

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