Don’t let business decisions be a guessing game
Technology is everywhere today, and this technology generates enormous amounts of data which can be overwhelming for many parking and transit organizations.
Because “big data” is often used more as a buzzword than a practical application, some agencies are implementing technology without clearly defined objectives and with little thought about what data to collect or how best to use the data they are capturing.
Knowing basics like how many people rode the bus or where the bus was at a certain time is no longer enough. Data must be interpreted, evaluated, and analyzed on the fly, so operators can make decisions in near real time that improve operations and save money. Using technology to optimize and maximize current resources, and to forecast demand for the type and size of new equipment is the expectation, not the wish, from today’s technology.
Making operational decisions should no longer be a guessing game. Successful organizations must take a scientific approach to making decisions because those decisions affect not only daily operations but personnel and budgets.
Here are a few questions data can help answer:
- Should stops be added or removed to a particular route?
- How can we re-route vehicles or make real time adjustments based on demand and passenger movement
- If we make one change, how does it impact the rest of the system?
- Can data from other sources such as parking, end user behavior, or demographic trends be evaluated with transit data to anticipate need and realign resources?
- Are existing routes the right length or should they be reworked?
- Is the right mix of staffing in place to achieve our goals?
- What are some of the issues that are stressing operations?
- What do riders think about existing operations and how can they be improved?
To build a framework of success, the process for measurement should begin long before any solution goes live. For any business analytics approach to be successful, it must ladder up to an organization’s business objectives.
Analytics are not an add-on or ancillary offering. They should be a central component of every program.
With all the readily available solutions today, there is no reason for transit organizations to not know how many people are on the bus at any given moment, whether the bus is on time and where passengers board and disembark. Capturing data is the first step.
Metrics must be used to tell a system’s story, serve as the justification for bigger budgets and lay the foundation of new and improved service that meets the needs of stakeholders.
Big data is powerful, but it is only as useful as an organization will allow it to be.