Transportation technology: Is the proposed solution the right one?

Transportation systems need to be smarter about the technological solutions they employ.

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Philadelphia Transit system. (Image via Pixabay, CC 3.0)

ATLANTA, Jan. 31, 2017 — Last year, CNN reported that China tested a bus that straddled the highway, enabling it to glide over the traffic below.

Though at first glance the notion of a bus straddling traffic sounds like a bit of a gimmick, the concept garnered a number of headlines. In an era of increasing traffic on roads everywhere, some heralded it as a bold solution to quickly move people through gridlocked areas.

The bus, it appears, was not a success, and, according to one report, the vehicle has already been abandoned. Although the project seems to have failed, the fact that it was undertaken illustrates the ongoing need to explore innovative solutions to the transportation problems we face today.

As American Public Transportation Association (APTA) acting president and CEO Richard White noted last year,


“As public transportation has experienced tremendous growth over the last two decades, public transit systems are struggling to maintain aging and outdated infrastructure while at the same time being challenged to expand capacity.”

That means systems need to be smarter about the technological solutions they employ. Such systems need to know who is on their buses, what they think about the service provided and whether their employees are effective.

To understand whether a proposed technology solution will be effective, when Passio Technologies—a transportation technologies solution company—makes recommendations to customers, the company begins by asking:

  1.     What is the business objective? Are they clearly defined?
  2.     How will the solution improve operations?
  3.     How will it improve the passenger experience?

Following this approach, the company has worked with a pair of universities that are using technology to improve their service.

In Georgia, Georgia Southern University launched a solution to help maximize resources and allow administrators to easily prove the value of their service. The result is an operation that is complemented equally by school administrators and students.

Elsewhere, in Texas, Texas A&M University launched a platform to collect information and connect with students. Administrators now have a better understanding of how the school’s on-campus transit system is performing and know in real-time about opportunities for improvement.

There are often practical solutions to complex problems. Anyone can brainstorm extreme or even outlandish ideas. But the real trick is to devise and implement a concept that meets a situational challenge and brings the desired change that equally benefits the operator and the passenger.

Always keep in mind: Just because you can devise a solution doesn’t mean it’s the right one.

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Mitch Skyer
Mitch Skyer, has been President of Atlanta based Solstice Transportation Group since 2007 and Passio Technologies, since 2010. He has been in the transit and parking industry since 2002. Solstice and Passio work with universities, corporations, and municipalities throughout the country to provide transportation and parking operations with technology and consulting solutions. Mitch actively participates in several regional and national trade associations such as IPI, NACAS, and APTA. He graduated from Binghamton University and earned an MBA from the University at Buffalo. Mitch, his wife, and three children have lived in suburban Atlanta for more than 20 years.