November 26, 2018
If you work in transit, you understand there are a hundred and one reasons for the bus to arrive late to a stop.
But if you don’t work in transit — i.e. like 99.9% of transit riders — there’s no such thing as a reasonable delay, just WHAT?? ANOTHER DELAY?? THAT’S IT, I HATE THE BUS.
According to a study at UC Berkeley, riders cite “unreliability” or “bus arriving late” as the primary reason for cutting back on transit travel. And most of these riders tend to switch to other modes of transportation to fill in the gap, creating a vicious cycle of declining ridership, slashed operational budgets, degrading transit service, and — you guessed it — further ridership declines.
So what’s the answer? Essentially, don’t let your riders get burned. And mountains of data support this: in Los Angeles, for example, analysts have found a connection between higher schedule adherence and higher ridership. After all, your transit schedule is your contract with your riders.
The moral of the story: Stick to your schedule!
When it comes to schedule adherence, though, it’s often easier said than done. Run-times analysis is notoriously time-consuming, even prohibitively so. It requires heaps of historical arrival and departure data, painstakingly parsed to find trends for each trip. As a result, run-times analyses may only happen a couple times and are often limited to only a handful of routes.
Thankfully Swiftly is in the business of making transit data more accessible, so we recognized this and updated our Run-Times module accordingly. Our Run-Times module has already helped dozens of agencies to analyze their run-times and build more reliable schedules. Now we’re taking it a step farther with two new features in the module: Run-Times Suggestion and Comparison Views.
The first of our new features is called Run-Times Suggestion View. It uses millions of data points — from the trips your vehicles actually make — to instantly point out where your schedules have too much or too little slack, showing you ideal stop-to-stop and timepoint-to-timepoint run-times, down to the second.
Swiftly looks at actual travel times, along with dwell time, at each stop over a selected date range for all trips on a given route; then, according to your definition of “on time,” Swiftly suggests run-times that would result in a higher percentage of trips to fall into your on-time thresholds.
With Suggestion View, it’s possible to quickly redistribute slack from segments with too much slack to those with too little, so you can tweak your schedule to more closely match reality, all without additional operational costs. In short, Suggestion View makes it easy to incrementally improve your schedule on a much shorter timeline.
Suggestion View also offers an intuitive and visual explanation of specific schedule improvements, which makes it much easier to build consensus across departments and with external stakeholders about where schedule changes should be focused.
In case that wasn’t enough, we’ve also added Comparison View to the Run-Times module, which makes it simple to compare the run-times of a route over two different date ranges, time periods, or service classes, in one intuitive view.
Until now, agencies had no easy way to compare run-times from one day to the next, or during two specific time periods. With Comparison View, now it’s simple to conduct before-and-after studies to understand how transit projects affect the run-times of your routes. Whether it’s a TSP pilot, a new devoted bus lane, or even just some construction along a corridor, now you can see the impact on run-times in just a few seconds.
The best part? It’s hyper-visual, so you can just drop a picture of the Swiftly report into a presentation for higher-ups or a report for the board and call it a day!
So whether you’re in the transit know or not, these two new reports will increase the reliability of transit service in your city, creating long-term delight, not permanent alight(ings). With the new additions to the Run-Times module, you can keep to your schedule — and keep your riders.
Run-Times Suggestion and Comparison Views are now available to all Run-Times customers at no additional cost. For more information, or for a demo, contact your customer success manager or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See how Swiftly can improve service reliability at your agency with an in-depth demo.