Creating Stronger Transit Systems

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A transit system that is efficient, intuitive, and reliable: That's typically what it takes to get people to give up their car keys.

For that reason, this article from Phys.org is especially promising! Mobile computing, big data, and other technologies could soon be coming together to create transit systems that work for people as they've never worked before.

The research is being done by Joseph Chow, a professor in Ryerson's Department of Civil Engineering and a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Transportation Engineering.

"If you think of society as a human body, then the transportation system is the circulatory system," [Chow] says. "Therefore, a strong transportation infrastructure is critical to supporting economic growth.

Chow is studying ways to make Canada's aging transportation systems "smarter." That is done in two ways. First, designing the systems to respond to people's actual behavior in terms of when, where, and how they travel, and for what reasons. Second, the systems need to be designed so they can adapt to random fluctuations in the environment.

As Chow points out, existing transportation systems are traditionally designed without any flexibility to adapt to an uncertain environment. This situation, however, can cause many problems. One example: when multiple street cars on the same route arrive bunched together on one stop due to delays along the line. This lack of adaptation puts a strain on the entire system and significantly reduces the level of service for commuters."

Since public transit is part of a modern city, it only makes sense for that transportation to receive an update and overhaul. Isn't it time that today's technology helped bring commuting into the 21st century?