By Robbie Webber
Transit fans, amateur transportation planners, and advocates for multimodal transportation loved the original TransitMix, a project of Code For America. The easy online tool allowed anyone to create a new transit route, alter an existing one, or change schedules in their city, at least on their computer. Professional planners and transit agency staff took note and started using TransitMix to explain their decisions to community groups.
They also told the developers of TransitMix how much they appreciated the simple interface and ease of use. Not all transit agencies have sophisticated software and dedicated staff to test out proposed changes to their system, and the tool was flexible and free. The developers took note and decided that the tool had a future as a real business.
Now TransitMix has gone pro, and Oregon DOT is one of the first agencies to use it. Although ODOT only contracts for a small number of transit routes, they also assist communities around the state who have limited resources and staff. ODOT’s Public Transit Division coordinates the transit network across the state and helps enhance services for seniors and people with disabilities.
TransitMix Pro has helped the Oregon DOT find gaps in the statewide system. And with the help of Oregon State University, they have been able to upload demographic and economic data to answer some important questions about where improvements are needed for job access or to serve communities with high transit needs.
Because ODOT purchased a blanket license, smaller transit agencies with limited resources are able to use the tool. With OSU’s help, agencies are able to upload their route data to a central database and then use the statewide demographic information to plan their routes.
The tool has also helped transit agencies communicate with the public about proposed changes. The access and financial trade-offs of transit changes can be more easily demonstrated when staff can use the tool during a public meeting.
As ODOT continues to test out uses for TransitMix, they are also helping shape the next version. Already the tool is offering some features that ODOT developed with OSU. TransitMix as a professional tool is still very new, but one that is filling a need for planners and transit agencies.
Robbie Webber is a Senior Associate at SSTI.
By Robbie Webber