Public transportation is critical in keeping our communities connected and is a crucial part of the solution to the economic, energy, and environmental challenges that are becoming prevalent today. Not only is public transportation convenient for riders, but it also has been proven to be safer than driving individual vehicles and areas that have accessible public transit are also shown to have better overall security and reduced crime rates. Not to mention, paratransit is especially important for people with disabilities or for aging members of our community to get around and have a better quality of life.
We know why public transportation is so important, but what sets some public transportation agencies apart from the rest to be classified as the best public transportation in the U.S.?
In most cases, what gives certain public transportation agencies an edge over others is how they manage their operations.
Let’s take a look at some of the best forms of public transportation in the U.S. and who is best managing their operations in these areas and why.
Fixed Route Public Transit
What it is: Fixed route public transit conveniently carries commuters, visitors, and other passengers throughout their communities using a set schedule and routing. Fixed route typically serves areas surrounding hospitals, shopping centers, employment centers, and other major attractions in local communities.
Who does it best:
- Arlington County Transit in Arlington, VA
- Kern County Transit in Bakersfield, CA
- Westmoreland County Transit Authority in Greensburg, PA
Why these agencies do it best: The most important thing when it comes to fixed route public transit is on time performance. Passengers depend on fixed route public transit to get them where they need to go, on time, and they rely on the pre-determined schedule to plan their routes. The agencies mentioned above have technology, tools, and processes in place that allow greater visibility into their routes, where their vehicles are, and if any routes are running behind so passengers can plan ahead and know what to expect. This increased visibility is possible because of the way their operations are managed and the technology and team that they have in place.
Paratransit and Dial-a-Ride
What it is: Paratransit and Dial-a-Ride services are on-demand, curb-to-curb, or door-to-door services where a passenger can call to make a reservation for transport to a doctor’s appointment, work, or other destinations.
Who does it best:
- Mountain Metro Mobility in Colorado Springs, CO
- Milwaukee County Transit in Milwaukee, WI
- Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in Boston, MA
Why these agencies do it best: With paratransit and dial-a-ride, it’s critical that agencies can be agile and make routing changes at a moment’s notice. If a passenger calls to cancel a ride, or schedule a same-day ride, dispatch needs to get that information to the driver as soon as possible and the driver’s itinerary and routes need to be updated in real-time and optimized for efficiency. If an agency has to go through a manual process or doesn’t have access to their drivers once they are on the road, huge operational efficiencies can develop and, ultimately, customer service and the passenger’s experience suffer. The agencies above address the above challenges and are staffed properly to handle their paratransit passengers’ needs from vehicles to drivers and everything in between.
Commuter & Express Transit
What it is: Commuter & Express transit is public transport for commuters that make a limited number of stops to make travel times as short as possible.
Who does it best:
- Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation in Greensboro, NC
Why this agency does it best: With commuter transit, the goal is ultimately to make the commute to and from work as easy as possible for riders in order to save passengers money, reduce stress, or give them a more environmentally-friendly and sustainable way to get there. Because of this, it’s important for an agency to give their commuters options. PART offers ridesharing alternatives in addition to their express transit service such as vanpooling, carpooling, bicycling (Piedmont ensures passengers have places to store their bikes on their buses), and more. To be able to offer these commuter resources, Piedmont has to have their operations running optimally and efficiently enough to ensure they have enough capital and resources internally to make this possible.
What it is: A shuttle service is a service intended primarily to shuttle passengers between two fixed points and will usually link with other hubs such as airports and hotels, government agencies, and universities and schools.
Who does it best:
- Orlando International Airport Shuttle in Orlando, FL
Why they do it best: It can be a nightmare for passengers to get from the airport to wherever they are trying to go; whether that is their hotel, their home, a local attraction, back to the airport at the end of their trip, or some other destination. It is critical that a shuttle service is dependable, convenient, and easy to use. To achieve this, the shuttle agency’s operations need to be on point and the shuttle drivers need to be impeccable at customer service, communication, and reliability. Orlando International Airport’s shuttle is definitely one of the best.
While public transportation continues to be a critical part of our infrastructure and demand continues to grow for riders, it is important for transit agencies to continue to strive for quality service and optimized operations to deliver the best possible public transportation services for passengers.
The thing that all of the agencies highlighted above have in common are their impeccable operations, processes, people, and technology. If your transit agency wants to be among the best in the U.S., a transit operations contractor can help get you there.