Articles

New York City Transit Uses Analytics to Improve Service to Public

To make sense of all the data the authority collects, it has deployed a powerful analytics platform.

by / July 15, 2015

The New York City Transit Authority (NYCT), the largest transportation network in North America, is leveraging analytics to manage and analyze its transit information with the goal of providing optimized service to the public. 

NYCT serves more than 7 million people weekly through 24 subway lines and 224 bus routes. The organization is tasked with understanding everything from subway movement, to diagnostic and event data, to vehicle sensor and location intelligence data directly from NYCT vehicles. This results in tens of thousands of records per minute, all of which must be recorded and distilled into useable and helpful information so the department can quickly identify and address any potential service issues. 

To make sense of all that data, NYCT needed a powerful analytics platform. 

“We had a pretty good feel as to what we needed to deliver. What we didn’t know were the different mechanisms for delivering it,” said Anthony Cramer, director of System Data Analysis in the Operations Planning section at NYCT, in a press release. “Our goal was to provide a self-service shop, to let people get customized reports when they need them. With the right tool, NYCT could become much more proactive in how it is monitoring the service and how it’s improving it.” 

The solution needed to not only support NYCT’s existing data collection technology, but also to keep up with future demands. Interested parties would need to examine data when and how they wanted, accessing more detail as needed to stay on top of performance concerns, from malfunctioning lifts to route change needs or gaps in service, in real time.

After examining several solutions, NYCT implemented OpenText Analytics, a solution that connects, manages and analyzes all of the organization’s data sources. Using OpenText, NYCT Operations Planning can now respond to performance issues much faster than before, and field employees can see and react to that same data immediately. For example, a real-time dashboard recently revealed bunching of buses over time. Using that information, operations employees were able to adjust the schedule to keep the buses on time and more evenly dispersed.

“We have a pretty lean development team that needs to support a wide and high volume of users,”  Cramer said in the release. “Now we can support twice the number of users with the same level of support staff. We’re communicating better and making more informed decisions...” 

As its use of the reporting technology progresses, NYCT plans to push information to the public via mobile devices, allowing its ridership and the general public to view and analyze transit performance, as well individual bus and subway lines.

“NYCT is committed to an open data environment,” Cramer said. “That begins with making as much data as possible available to our customers, from countdown clocks at subway stations to real-time arrival apps, all powered by an open, cloud-based system.”