Commuting Made Easier
If commuting is unlikely to get faster, can it be easier? TransLoc is working on just that.
Many thought that the advent of computers and the internet would mean that people would work from home more. However, according to the census bureau, almost 91% of us are still commuting, while only 3% work from home at least one day a week. For many cities and municipalities, getting people out of their cars and into public transit is an important step to cleaner air, and less congestion for necessary vehicles such as safety and fire, as well the trucks moving goods into the city and recycling the waste out. For riders, the hope is a way to get to work that is faster and much less stressful.
But public transportation infrastructure has fallen behind, leaving many riders uncertain that it is a better route to one person in one car. Making that trip a better one is a matter of data: who is commuting, where are they commuting to, when do they plan to go and how regularly do they go? For those of commuting by public transportation, the trip is often beset by frustrating waits, poor connections and other uncertainties.
TransLoc, founded in 2014 by Josh Whiton, provides information so that riders can plan based on real transit schedules, considering alterations in their route as needed. They get advanced notice of delays in routes, as well as access points for bike and car shares, or to schedule Uber to meet unexpectedly late arrivals.
As Joel Bush, Director of Growth at TransLoc said, "If you need a connector on the other end, it [TransLoc's Mobile App] will book that Uber for about 1 min after you get off the bus. Book a trip once and then you're done. You can even plan on bike sharing, or car sharing."
As riders gain information, so does the transit authority. They get real time information that aids in data analysis and safety, which is a powerful planning and communication tool. For many transit systems, such data is too expensive to install and too complex to maintain. By providing a something that can be tailored to the size and scope of local towns and cities, TransLoc removes a large barrier for those that provide excellent equipment and trained personnel, but do not have onsite computer technicians to install and upgrade such systems.
Travel on Demand
The ultimate solution for riders is traveling on demand. Imagine being able to tell a bus route when you would like to go, and for that bus driver to be able to select a route that efficiently only stops for actual riders. That is the system that TransLoc has developed for higher education, and is planning on delivering to some local transit authorities soon. Such a service would allow towns to plan effectively, seeing patterns that help plan for the most efficient use of their resources.
Demand response is a safe ride for senior citizens, or for students. An agency can save a lot of money while at the same time being more responsive to the needs of the community.
The company is already providing some educational institutions with better transportation for students. For many, who aren't likely to bring a car to school, such convenience makes a difference. One partner is Princeton University.
"I'm in the dining hall, and I'll pull my phone out and see when the bus is coming. If ten minutes, I can get some work done or relax a bit more. If they [Princeton University] didn't have it, I wouldn't use the buses." Baxter Ingram, Princeton 2017. TGEink strategy intern.
Anticipating the Transportation of the Future
As municipalities adopt solutions like TransLoc, they are also gathering information on how riders use their transit infrastructure. This is important for over 132 million people commuting every day, but it is an essential piece for the long term vision of mass transit that will meet our future demands. For many, such as Richard Arena, President of the US High Speed Rail Association, (USHSR) that vision encompasses high speed transit, or trains that travel over 200 miles per hour. Such trains put Washington DC in range of Wilmington, Delaware for a commuter, or lets someone in San Francisco arrive in Los Angeles before lunch. However, as those routes are being built, one of the biggest barriers is the walk shed, or the time it takes to get from home to a transit stop.
According to Mr. Bush, "Each community is slightly different, but it's [walking distance to public transit] generally about 1/4 mile. More than that, there's a very low chance that a regular transit user would use public transit. However, with a service like Uber, the walk shed is extended because you can time the arrival and drop off with the actual bus arrival"
This becomes important in the race to get a truly competitive transit system. Rapid Transit trains are likely to have few stops, so the need for public transit that can cover that gap is a vital step for the proliferation of a modern rail system. TransLoc's system holds important answers both for the commuters along existing and new rail lines, but also for towns and even small cities that would like to take advantage of better trains to attract highly paid workers.
For municipalities, getting real time data on what their riders are doing and what they need provides the opportunity to maximize the way routes are used, and how they manage customers throughout the day. Such information means savings for local transit systems, as they model a more efficient system.