Last Friday, it took me close to two hours to get home taking the Metro. As someone who grew up in Alexandria, VA, and has lived in various sections of Washington, DC, and Northern Virginia for most of my adult life, I certainly understand the pains of public transit. It should come as no surprise then that Transit Labs – a company hoping to improve public transit systems through data analytics – hails from no other than DC.
Transit Labs considers itself a data analytics and visualization company that hopes to foster better, informed decision making in public transportation. Using real-time analysis, the startup is able to provide decision makers with the data and performance measures that allow them to implement more strategic solutions for public transit. According to communications director Farhan Daredia, their tools offer an alternative to the current system in place, which essentially requires multiple rounds of research and consulting – a method that is both more costly and timely in practice.
Late last month, Transit Labs launched a pilot program to help public transportation officials make better use of their available data. Called the Transportation Application Platform (TAP), 24 transit systems across the country – from Atlanta, GA, to Miami-Dade County, FL – will receive the necessary tools to analyze their current data, collect more data, and analyze all of that using more than a hundred performance metrics.
While the use of data analytics is certainly a powerful tool for making public transit perform more efficiently (whether that’s through better planning of stops and routes or however else) and improving overall rider experience, at its core, Transit Labs is aiming to maximize the economic impact of public transit on their respective communities.
“We’re trying to make systems more efficient with their money, making sure that public transportation is planned and leveraged in a way that encourages economic mobility and impact. [Our tools] will hopefully enable [decision makers] to go into more and better-informed projects that have greater impact,” said Daredia.
With better planning comes increased accessibility, according to Daredia. And this, in turn, leads to an improvement in the economic landscape of a region. Transit Labs actually offers a way to measure the number of jobs created around a public transit system – a heat map that shows the jobs numbers per transportation project, giving officials information on which decisions are the most capital-efficient in terms of generating the best results for the economy. “Economic mobility is really tough without good transportation…It’s really exciting to be a part of helping address these issues.”
Transit Labs most recently competed in 1776’s Challenge Cup Smart Cities Semifinals Competition.