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Strategic Collaboration is the Future of Public Transportation - by Bridgette Beato

My new book, The Future of Public Transportation, features chapters from 40+ top transit leaders, futurists and CEOs. Here's an excerpt from Bridgette Beato, CEO of Lumenor Consulting Group's excellent chapter:

At a time when customers empowered by choice have rising standards about both the quality and breadth of services it takes to win their business, I believe that all players in this domain should focus on their own core assets – and outsource or collaborating on everything else.

For public transit agencies, this means focusing on trains, buses, and tracks – and making sure that these assets are performing optimally. Even here, technology will play the defining role, as more agencies begin to implement Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) that instrumentize their assets in order to collect and analyze enormous quantities of data that can lead to new operational efficiencies while preserving the value of their equipment over time.

A well-designed ITS helps public transit agencies comply with federal regulations that arise out of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, or MAP-21, including provisions that require agencies to submit a “Transit Asset Management Plan” (TAMP) and to keep their assets in a “State of Good Repair” (SGR). A fully integrated system should be able to track and monitor the health of an agency’s assets, manage work orders and the supply chain, and interface with financial and reporting systems to provide visibility into every aspect of their operations. This, in turn, can enable agencies to reduce their overall spend and prioritize maintenance instead of deferring it.

With new insights into which routes are seeing the highest levels of usage, and which equipment needs servicing, agencies can prevent breakdowns that cause delays or worse. A data-driven approach can also help agencies optimize their schedules by better understanding ridership patterns. Similarly, implementing Transit Signal Priority systems, which leverage Department of Transportation protocols to allow properly equipped buses to make red lights turn faster or hold green lights longer, can help transit operators keep to their schedules.

In the end, public transit can and should remain at the heart of the multi-modal transportation ecosystems that are starting to take shape in cities around the world. Its ability to move large numbers of people quickly, in spatially efficient fashion, is key to making increasingly congested cities more livable and environmentally sustainable. But the competition for riders will also continue to increase, as will rider expectations regarding ease of use, reliability, and efficiency.

To successfully adapt to these changing conditions, public transit agencies should move forward with a strategically collaborative mindset. Instead of trying to re-invent the wheel, they should seek out partnerships with software developers, system integrators, and other IT professionals who can help them deliver best-of-class experiences that it will take to succeed in an environment where every rider is a choice rider. Indeed, in the multi-modal transportation future, it’s all about sharing the ride.

Read her full chapter in the book - The Future of Public Transportation

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