Thought Leadership

The Future of Transit Is Positive with Technology-Enabled Solutions

Jess Blenkarn
3 min read

Dedicated to the public transit industry in the U.S. and Canada, Mass Transit Magazine produces first-hand, in-depth content that connects transit agencies and professionals with innovative and engaging ideas.

Each year, the magazine conducts a comprehensive study with public and private sector professionals to provide an overview on industry-wide changes and trends in budget, procurement, technology, and data. This year’s survey includes responses from 278 transit professionals who have shared their insights to help the industry collectively emerge from “under the umbrella of the pandemic”.

Despite the continued threats from COVID-19, the industry remains hopeful with its determined resilience, adopting innovative solutions that address these challenges, and redefining the industry in the process. These are our most important takeaways from Mass Transit Magazine’s 2022 Mobility Outlook:

Reduced Ridership Continues to Disrupt Agency Productivity and Costs


During 2021, 93% of agencies reported that ridership declined during the pandemic, causing some fixed-route buses to become too inefficient and ultimately, too costly to continue operating. With reduced ridership, these fixed routes were driving around with few people on the buses, causing passengers per vehicle hour to decrease and cost per passenger to rise.

This is likely to continue throughout 2022 unless agencies can find an alternative solution to providing mobility for their ridership without the use of inefficient and costly fixed routes, such as on-demand transit technology. On-demand transit reduces cost per passenger through ridesharing and efficient routing by picking up passengers on request and taking them directly where they need to go. Advanced routing algorithms, such as RideCo’s Solver, ensures vehicles are optimized to take the most efficient route and guarantees the drop-off time for each trip with an average 95%+ on-time performance record.

While ridesharing and dynamic, optimized routing both increases passengers per vehicle hour and decreases cost per passenger, providing a more accessible and efficient service will attract the ridership that has been lost due to the pandemic. Passengers are picked up and dropped off on-time and closer to their destinations, spending less time in transit overall.

Transit Agencies are Investing Their Increased Budgets in Technology


Currently, many agencies still rely on legacy technologies and manual processes that result in inefficiencies across their operations. Combined with the industry-wide staffing shortages, agencies are recognizing the need for modern technologies to update their processes and automate operations where possible.


In 2022, nearly 75% of agencies reported that their budgets have significantly or slightly improved, with the increase in government funding contributing significantly to the rise. The 37.5% increase from 2021’s Mobility Outlook enables agencies to invest more in technology.


While 14% of agencies already provide on-demand transit services, another 17% would like to use their new budgets to invest in innovative technology.

Partnerships with TNC Providers Improve Transit Equity and Accessibility


As agencies look to improve equity and accessibility for their customers, many are partnering with transportation network companies (TNCs) as a way to provide integrated mobility within their transit systems. Of those that were surveyed, 28% of agencies already have existing partnerships with TNCs or micromobility providers and an additional 38% are exploring their options.


Through these partnerships, agencies are able to provide reliable service that is accessible regardless of means, ability, or location. For some agencies, that could mean increasing mobility in low-density neighborhoods, providing residents with a first/last mile gap access to the nearest transit hub, or empowering paratransit customers with a reliable and flexible demand-responsive service. Technology-enabled mobility options such as on-demand transit allows agencies to address those challenges with equity using an innovative solution.
 

Despite the ongoing challenges that the industry continues to face, the future of transit is positive. Together, we have the common mission to provide equitable, accessible, and efficient service to our communities, and we will continue to adapt to the challenges ahead of us.


If you want to help power the next generation of transit together, get in touch today!

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