New Accountability for Public Transit

This week I’ve looked at Twitter searches on “transit” revealing a rich cross-section of tweets ranging from rider rants, to stories of riders pushing back against agencies, to cases of agencies opening up to their ridership. I think riders holding transit agencies accountable for their service delivery promises could be the start of a transformational culture shift within the transit community. Here are some examples:

Rants

@RatedRHackstar wrote: Nj transit has to have to worse buses, timewise eva, them sits neva stick to schedule they come when they want

@merlynn wrote: the bus in front of me averaged a whopping 40 mph on the freeway. Way to go, Sound Transit.

@BlackMaria wrote: They’re checking fare on transit. Like half the people on the bus got fined and kicked off. Mean!!

@BookGeekGal wrote: Indianapolis: Why does your public transit website SUCK & repeatedly crash my internet? I’m trying to study feasibility of Indy trip. #sigh

@mermaidmask wrote: I f***ing hate public transit!

Tech Driving Accountability

@MicheleNW wrote: Lol bus went past me then stopped. I got on and he says “I know you would’ve emailed NJ transit…” I said “before you hit the corner!”

@coffee_makers wrote: TTC driver suspended following YouTube video of coffee break: A Toronto transit driver has been suspended pending … http://bit.ly/dChgsS

Agencies Opening Up for Feedback

@gctransit wrote: Welcome to the Gwinnett County Transit Facebook page. In our efforts to provide better service to our customers we… http://bit.ly/9KqOl0

@HillsboroughMPO wrote: How could improved mass transit in Tampa Bay affect you? Video contest going on now http://tinyurl.com/y9g4k7g

Open Data Gets Moving

Transit agencies are on the move — opening up their GTFS transit feeds at a record pace. Through January, 107 transit agencies now provide open data — up 41% since the December launch of City-Go-Round, a nifty little site that promotes the virtues of open transit data and highlights the cool apps that civic-minded software developers have built using those data feeds.

While we love up-and-right pointing graphs, more than 650 other transit agencies are lacking open data, and we hope to see that change in 2010.

City-Go-Round contains a list, (lovingly called The Wall of Shame here at the office), of the 10 largest transit agencies without open data.

Amazingly, just since our launch, 4 of the original Top 10 agencies have gone Open Data, and of the 4 new ones that took their place, half of those opened up too. This leaves us with a new top 10 as we head into February:

Marketing the Front Seat Mission

 

It’s always nice to head into a new year with a clear plan. That start of year clarity — before reality impinges and forces change — is so refreshing. At Front Seat, one of our top goals in 2010 is to build our marketing and community outreach capabilities into a full-time effort. And so I’m happy to announce our first ever search for a world-class Marketing Manager. The full job description is here, but the essence of the job is a wide open mandate to use skills in online, offline, and social media to expand the distribution of our web sites and to promote our mission.

We hope that you’ll apply or mention it to your superstar marketing friends.

Walk Score Update Adds NY Transit

Walk Score is live with the subway transit feed MTA released yesterday! Check out nearby subway stops for any New York City address. (Bus stops coming soon.)

We think this is the first app actually using the new data (get it here or here), so please shout out if you see any problems.

Open Data Milestone as MTA Relents

For the first time, a majority of all transit passenger-miles in the U.S. are now covered by transit agencies with open data. This follows the release of open GTFS feeds from New York’s MTA and represents the first “local jurisdiction” vertical within the burgeoning open data / civic software / Gov 2.0  movement that has made Open the “new normal” way of doing business.

With New York off the list, the new #1 transit agency with no open data is New Jersey Transit, followed by NE Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad, and Metro Atlanta RTA.

City-Go-Round lists 102 transit agencies with open data — a 50% increase since November, when Walk Score first added its public transit support with an open-only policy.

What do citizens get from this new data? Well, app searching on City-Go-Round is now fully functional for New York, and reveals 28 apps available to local riders. Check ‘em out!

A big congratulations to MTA and the NY Open Transit Data group, who have worked hard to overcome the political, legal, and technical hurdles to opening up this civic resource for New Yorkers.