Thursday, May 06, 2010

wonkodreaming: transit edition

NYTimes has a story on the wealth of transit data the MTA there puts online. Locally we are about as far the opposite as is feasible for a large transit agency to be.  I would normally temper that type of criticism by pointing out that the MTA in NY is a monstrous agency that by sheer scale has more resources available for things like that.  Yet we are supposedly the center of the universe when it comes to information technology.  It's just that we are not even a fraction of the way toward where the MTA and some agencies are... not even a small percentage. 

Don't get me wrong... Routeshout is great.. but due to limitations in what data the Port Authority really has out there it's far more conceptual than operational.  So it's not just what that data means to me, but imagine what Nathan and Co. could come up with if even some of it were available here. 


Blogger Grimace said...

Maybe the Port Authority doesn't release information because it really has no clue what is going on most of the time.

Thursday, May 06, 2010 6:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The DC Metro system posts a daily report on their site that lets you know how many people rode rail and bus that day, what special events were going on that would have caused a spike in ridership (sporting events, etc.) and any problems that came up that day (such as vehicle malfunctions) and the overall effect they had on service.

I'm sure something like that could be done here, but we'd have to pay consultants and study it for 15 years before it can happen.

Thursday, May 06, 2010 8:10:00 PM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

PAT doesn't even have an online PDF map of its current system (it has something for the planned post-TDP system, but not the current one).

I'm not sure that is relevant, since that isn't really about sophisticated uses of data. I just find it shocking, and indicative of how little attention PAT has paid to providing people with usable information.

Friday, May 07, 2010 11:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

My take on PAT is this: They don't measure because it doesn't matter.

Expanded: I rode the bus almost every day for 7 years, from Squirrel Hill to Oakland. Not once did I ever see an indication that someone was noting where people got onto the bus and where they got off. The only measurement they were making is the number and type of fares - and that was done by the driver, and it often seemed that the driver was hitting the button 5x for every rider by the end of the route.

But, it makes sense not to collect any data - if you don't have any data to base your routes on, there's no impetus to ever change any of them. And also, there will be throngs of people complaining if you do try to cut underperforming routes.

Its a hopeless agency. As an example, the 61c was typically near empty as it left Homestead for Greenfield. It would often stop picking up passengers well before it reached Forbes Ave because it was at capacity. It was near empty by the time it reached Atwood Street in Oakland. Ergo, most of the riders were boarding on Murray Ave and stepping out at or before Fifth and Atwood.
(I've heard the 61c is the most heavily used bus line in all of PA.) And 75% of the passengers were using it just for a 3 mile stretch. But, the bus leaves from McKeesport and turns around in Downtown, which is about a 12 mile trip. And to top it all off, the drivers are forbidden from opening the rear doors anywhere except downtown - not fun if you're in the back of a packed bus and you're at your stop, which is a very common circumstance.

I've got little bad to say about the drivers, but its obvious the management there, at least before TDP, was completely incompetent.

Saturday, May 08, 2010 12:41:00 AM  

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