Transportation@100%: Innovation 1
Tracking Supply and Demand
The projects presented in the ten innovations areas are all designed to address barriers to vital services. Action teams should review all projects and prioritize those that have the best chance of addressing the barriers identified in the 100% New Mexico countywide survey. Your collaborative and result-focused local work is nothing less than heroic.
Project 1: The “all-important ridership analysis” project
Every time somebody gets on a bus, their presence is recorded either by some computer reading a scanned pass, or the low-tech method of a driver punching a digital or manual counter button. Generally, transit agencies aggregate this information and break it down by route and by riders per service hour, which is just the total ridership divided by the number of hours the bus was in service. Transit agencies should be able to get this down to the month or maybe even the time of day, though there may be a lag in data availability. Ideally, this ridership information should all be published on the transit agency’s website. The same website should display the supply of transit in the form of bus schedules or information on point-to-point options for parents with baby carriers, the elderly and those with physical and emotional challenges.
Imagine a future where all residents have a transit pass (a plastic card or mobile app with barcode) that would be used for all forms of transit: bus, taxi, Uber-like services, trams, etc. Now imagine an artificial intelligence (AI) program with friendly staffers analyze all this data from all county residents to identify high and low use and where gaps in services exist, offering recommendations for fixing gaps and enriching lives. In this project, you will be gathering as much data as you can to paint a picture of local transport. This is the first step in identifying challenges.
Project 2: The “can you get there from here” project
Good transit planners will figure out where people are concentrated and then plan service accordingly, but a lot of transit systems are pretty haphazard affairs that never really do this kind of self-assessment. Luckily, using census data, your own eyes and Google Maps, you can do it for them. First, learn how to do custom drawings on Google Maps (an internet search will lead to some simple tutorials). Then take a look at the American Community Survey (search it), Google Earth satellite images and the results from your Resilient Community Experience Survey. This should give you enough to get started.
Project 3: The “does it go where it should” project
Your transit system should serve your community’s most critical areas: educational institutions, government services, job centers and medical facilities. Most systems think this is a no-brainer and act accordingly, but check yours to be sure. Some systems are run by total pros with practical field experience, and others have never taken a bus. Find or make a map of the transit in your town, then make a map of all schools, major government service outlets (Social Security, unemployment office, etc.) major medical facilities and job centers. Then see how well those two maps overlap. Also take a look at service frequency: if you have a 10 a.m. doctor’s appointment, is the next bus at 11 a.m. or 4:30 p.m.? Whether transit “serves” the most critical areas depends on more than what the map looks like. One other critical service area may well be the next town over. Can you get there from your town? Often the answer is no. That leads to situations where getting around a county is easy and getting to the next county is hard, even if it’s a major population center.
County/state transit planning problems: https://aae.how/26