- Transit software company Optibus is releasing a new set of route planning capabilities to its platform, which will allow transportation agencies and operators to visually plan and adjust routes. The Optibus Route Planning tools are meant to be used alongside the timetable capabilities already built into the platform.
- The platform can add or modify routes using Optibus’ algorithms, including a feature that will show possible problems. The route can also be placed on a street or satellite map, allowing operators to see how it will look from the driver’s point of view.
- "The biggest conundrum regarding mass transportation routes is that while rider demand changes daily, weekly and seasonally, routes are kept constant with some systems using the exact same routes for over thirty years”, Optibus CEO Amos Haggiag said in a statement. “Our overarching goal is to modernize mass transportation solutions so that agencies and operators can better serve passengers by adapting routes to match demand.”
A report from KPMG released last week said that, faced with a 5% drop in ridership over the past decade, transit agencies needed to do more to be nimble and respond to customer demand. With so many mobility options like ride-hailing or bike-sharing services, KPMG found that “current fixed-route bus service has not kept up with consumer preferences or been responsive to shifts in value of time perceptions.”
While some agencies like the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority have worked on revamping their routes to respond to consumer demand, it can be a challenge to be nimble with such large systems.
That’s where Optibus, which announced $40 billion in a Series B funding round in December, seeks to help (the company already has more than 300 cities as clients). Its platform already has a timetable feature that uses artificial intelligence to help agencies schedule their routes, which it says can reduce costs by up to 15%. The new route planning features will give agencies an easier way to see how adjusting bus service or adding new routes will impact their network, and whether it is worth offering new services in response to consumer demand, or how to adapt routes in response to construction or other closures.
The tools could be especially useful as agencies explore microtransit options, like shuttles that can supplement existing bus routes. Transit agencies are increasingly finding partners or building in pilots with shuttles — including autonomous shuttles — to reach new neighborhoods or test demand. Route-planning software can help agencies maximize their impact.