Helping Quantify Transit in a Time of Tight Budgets

Feb. 18, 2016
Georgia Southern University relies on Passio’s passenger counting to prove system’s value.

With funding at a premium, Georgia Southern University’s parking and transportation department needed a solution that would not only help maximize resources, but allow administrators to easily prove the value of their service.

School officials decided on Passio Technologies’ passenger counting solution. The result is a streamlined operation and a system that is complemented equally by the school administrators who oversee its operations and the students who rely on the system to travel across campus.

Georgia Southern, a school of about 20,500 students located in Statesboro, Georgia, introduced passenger counting three years ago. Drivers use a tablet to manually count the 10,000 passengers who ride a bus on average each day; the 12-bus system transported more than 2.1 million passengers across its network last year.

“We are always looking for ways to make the best use of our resources, and passenger counting ensures we have buses deployed on the routes where they make sense and where the ridership levels are present,” said Kristi Bryant, director of parking and transportation for Georgia Southern. “The team at Passio, in many ways, is an extension of my in-house team at the university.

“We regularly pull and compile reports and adjusting service based on demands,” Bryant added. “The Passio solution provides me with the quick access to data and analytics I need to make decisions in real time that help us operate on a daily basis.”

The school has limited on-campus parking options and no-parking decks. But, as the school has expanded in recent years, there are fewer parking spaces available in surface lots. That trend is expected to continue as more lots are expected to be eliminated to make way for additional buildings to house classrooms and administrative staff.

Georgia Southern is in the process of developing specifications for its next transportation services contract and RFP. The Passio passenger count system reports and analytics will play an important role in defining transportation service levels and adjusting routes for the future.

Many students use the school’s transit system to commute from the primary parking lot to academic buildings. Plus, Statesboro has no public transportation system of its own.

In addition to passenger counting, Georgia Southern uses Passio’s SmartTraxx app, allowing students to track the bus and see precisely when their bus will arrive. The app also provides riders with service alerts and allows them to provide administrators with feedback about the system.

“The feedback has been positive all the way around,” Bryant said. “And, from an administrative standpoint, having feedback gives us another avenue to verify our approach is working.”

Before implementing the passenger counting solution, the department relied on manual counting using spreadsheets. That represented both a timely prospect and introduced the possibility of human error.

The automated system allows administrators to pull real-time usage reports by time, day and/or route to assess whether routes are effective. The chosen platform provides a single, cloud-based management solution with a single, on-board interface.

The platform produces straightforward, meaningful and easy-to-understand data reports that system managers can use to make decisions in real time. It has the added benefit of requiring little training so employees can quickly use the system to produce reports.

“Administrators today shouldn’t spend time pulling data to know whether their service is effective,” said Mitch Skyer, president of Passio. “They need a system that provides them with relevant and timely information they can use as the basis for decisions that affect students.”

Scott Reiser is co-founder and CTO of Passio.