How APIs Streamline Transit
Public transport has a problem. In an increasingly interconnected world, many aspects of transit remain analogue and outdated. This failure to modernize is actively harming transit agencies across the United States and the country. A study found that transportation inefficiencies account for billions in lost productivity. Aging public transportation comes with several problems: increased costs from constant repairs and asset failures, reduced profits from delays and lost ridership. In many places, transit is so slow and unreliable that bicycle riders can reach more jobs than transit riders in trips of 50 minutes or less.
A variety of factors are responsible for this. Lack of funding for transportation is a major issue, as are labor shortages that exacerbate delays. But obsolete technology and processes are another major contributor. Transit agencies have access to new hardware and software solutions to automate and streamline key aspects of transportation, but many transit agencies have failed to invest.
Some are unaware of the depth and variety of technology available to transit agencies. While everyone agrees interoperability and improvements are necessary, there is a significant portion of the field that doesn’t understand how they can achieve it. There’s a simple solution: Application Programming Interfaces. Often called APIs, they are one of the simplest ways to create a cohesive software system. But many within transportation don’t know about or cannot take advantage of API integrations due to antiquated software and hardware.
This is indicative of a major issue, but luckily, is easily remedied. Here’s what APIs are and what they can do for the public transportation industry.
What is an API?
Two programs may exist on the same system but are typically unable to share data or communicate on their own. To get anything done, you must switch back and forth between the two. Data entered in one program will not be reflected in the other, even if they share similar functions. They exist as islands separate from one another; they might as well not be on the same system for all the good it does the user.
An API is a bridge. It is a software intermediary that allows two disparate programs to communicate with each other. These connections, called integrations, are used throughout our everyday life. Everyone who has ever checked a baby monitor from their phone or used a rideshare app has been the beneficiary of an API integration.
Over the years, APIs have become a staple in the developer world. They’re typically designed to be accessible and easy to work so that the API can connect with a wide array of programs and platforms. Through integration, APIs turn ten to twelve separate pieces of software into a singular unified solution that does everything an organization requires it to, all while synced to the same data.
API Benefits for Transit Operations
For these reasons, APIs are an invaluable tool for transportation organizations. Capable of integrating with several pieces of software and aggregating a wide array of data from several sources, an agency could feasibly create a singular interoperable system capable of almost anything: maintenance and inventory alerts, an app for passengers with real-time updates, contactless faire collection, and more—all pulling from the same live, precise data.
To build truly interconnected transportation operations, API-enabled software is a necessity. Mobility data provides valuable insights into every aspect of transit by connectin: asset efficiency, route traffic, number of passengers, average fuel consumption, vehicle maintenance, on-demand ride requests, and much, much more. Mobility data must flow freely and securely between systems to create efficiency and visibility, and this is not possible with a comprehensive API integration. The possibilities are quite literally endless; from COVID contract tracing to fleet management, APIs allow agencies to make the most of all the data available and provide optimal service.
The benefits of upgrading your agency’s tech suite speak for themselves: lowered costs, increased ridership and usage, reduced delays. Interoperable systems and greater passenger accessibility result in dramatic increases in usage and customer satisfaction, with the latter increasing as much as 87%. Integrated data can give unique insights that empowers agencies to make impactful decisions.
For example, if a specific route gets significantly more traffic than other areas, integrated mobility data will make it clear and allow for an increase in service. In contrast, if certain routes always have low ridership, the organization can implement on-demand mobility via ride requests or decrease the number of assets on that route. Knowledge is power and mobility data is the best tool transit agencies have at their disposal for increasing profits, enhancing service, and lowering their organizational costs.
The only drawback to API upgrades is the initial upfront cost of procuring and installing new software and hardware. But the benefits far outweigh the expenses caused by failing, obsolete systems and assets.
Driving Transit Forward
APIs are a simple tool that can impact an agency’s productivity in a big way. Strategic integrations grant increased visibility over all operations and have marked benefits for operators, passengers, and an agency’s bottom line. It’s time to move public transportation to receive a major upgrade—and Application Programming Interfaces provide the framework necessary to build a comprehensive, unified operations platform.
Innovating with Passio Technologies
All of Passio’s solutions are capable of complex API integrations. Our modular solutions make implementation simple and tailored to each client, catering to each agency’s unique needs. Increase productivity and lower costs with Passio Technologies. Learn more.