Detroit to Make Real-Time Transportation Decisions with Data Visualization

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Following the momentum of the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress in Detroit and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx’s visit promoting the TIGER M-1 rail grant, Transit Labs CEO and Founder Dag Gogue has announced a partnership with the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) to make the city’s public transportation more efficient.

The partnership will bring data visualization and analytics, as well as cloud computing, to turn the public transportation system in Detroit into a truly integrated and modernized 21st century regional transportation network. Transit Labs is a cutting-edge transportation analytics startup that uses software to gather a transit system’s data about ridership, personnel, assets, safety and funding in one place. It then crunches those numbers to help agencies operate their systems more efficiently and report necessary information to regulators.

Strong data analytics and visualizations will assist us in our efforts to increase accessibility to public transportation options, reignite economic activity throughout the city and offer an improved quality of service our customers deserve,” said Paul Toliver, Deputy Director of the Detroit Department of Transportation.

Transit Labs will integrate data already collected by the city, including automated passenger counters, automated vehicle locators, next bus arrival data and more, and overlay it with census, GIS and economic activity data. Operators, planners and executive leadership will now have a better picture of their transit system and be able to evaluate historical performance, make real-time decisions and model future service and growth.

The analytics will be powered by Microsoft Azure Government (currently in Preview), which will serve as the infrastructure platform housing the city’s transportation data. “We are looking forward to working closely with Detroit DOT as they take advantage of Microsoft’s cloud and data platform to help transform the city’s transportation information system,” said Kim Nelson, Executive Director, State and Local Government Solutions at Microsoft and the U.S. lead for Microsoft’s CityNext initiative.

Transit Labs’ preliminary analysis shows that:

  • Operating cost per service hour for fixed bus service increased by almost 20% between 2007 and 2012.
  • Service and labor hours were cut by 25% and 35% respectively.
  • Paratransit service has experienced a 96% decline in ridership. Those affected include the most vulnerable residents, the elderly and disabled.
  • Roughly one third of Detroit’s buses are consistently out of service for maintenance, scheduling has been highly volatile and wait times are longer and uncertain.

The number one obstacle to increasing ridership in any city is the uncertainty of not knowing when the bus you need will actually arrive, followed by long wait times,” said Gogue. “Bringing Detroit’s data onto the cloud will enable the city to address this with real-time fleet and schedule management and stimulate economic activity throughout the city.”


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