transit

Iceland’s Straetó Gains Process Efficiencies While Driving Public Engagement

Straetó, Iceland

Reykjavik, Iceland. Photo by Marika Bellavance on Unsplash

Population

230,000

Agency Type

Public Transport Authority (PTA) and Public Transport Operator (PTO)

Annual Budget

$57 Million

Region

Iceland

Solution

Remix Transit

About Straetó Iceland

Strætó is a municipality-owned company in the Greater Reykjavik area of Iceland. They are both a PTA (public transport authority) and PTO (public transport operator), which is quite unique in Europe. Strætó's bus network consists of 28 routes in the capital region and 20 routes outside the capital. They plan around 200 buses and operate half the fleet. About 300 people work for Strætó, and approximately 200 of them are bus drivers, responsible for driving passengers between destinations.The municipalities in the capital region and the towns around Iceland decide how the route network is put together. Strætó provides consultation and execution when routes are planned. Changes to the route network are usually implemented two to three times a year. Strætó makes changes according to suggestions from passengers, drivers, municipalities or by looking at GPS data from the buses. Each suggestion is evaluated carefully and in cooperation with stakeholders. 

Challenge

Straetó was challenged with an inefficient process for making route changes and map drawings. They needed a way to be more fluid in response to change requests from politicians and other stakeholders and arm them with data to make informed decisions.

Solution

Straetó onboarded Remix to provide the infrastructure, data, and analysis to make efficient route changes and data-driven decisions, as well as an online channel to enable public outreach.


Results

Gained efficiencies in route drawings: 12 hours down to 1 hour

Reduced time it takes to plan route changes: A project that took 10 hours before could take 10 minutes in Remix

Cost savings of $550 per map (rather than hiring an agency to produce the drawings)

Public outreach generated 600+ suggestions in Remix

Tell us about the initial challenges you faced with transit planning.

Before we had Remix, we struggled to understand the cost implications of changing specific routes and schedules, mainly because it was very time-consuming to perform those calculations. We use a timetable program called Trapeze- we would put all the schedules into that and determine the impact of any changes. It was a lot of work and complicated-- for example, a complex sequence in the route could take two days to calculate one route change-- so we chose carefully the options for which we calculated cost. 

In addition, we did not have an effective way of showing the route options on a map. We had to draw them in Google maps, which looked less professional.

Overall, before we had to limit the number of possible changes to look further into. With Remix, we can explore more options and estimate pros and cons for each change in a quicker manner. 


What were your top priorities when considering a new technology partner?

The main focus was needing the ability to calculate costs- and in a quick and simple way. It really is easy in Remix, and it only took about 10 minutes to learn.

While we didn’t prioritize customer service as a top priority, we realized after that it’s an important criteria and we have since added it to future technology partner criteria. The Remix team really sets the bar for top customer service, and that has been a very important criteria in the success of our relationship. 


With Remix, how have you been able to address your pain points?

Armed with transit planning software, we’ve been able to address our former challenges and reap many benefits including:

  • Process efficiencies: It used to take us one to two business days (equivalent of 8 to 16 hours) to look into changes for one route; now it takes us only 10 minutes to draw the line in Remix and see how the change has affected it. That’s a big time savings! We can react more quickly with changes now that it’s no longer a cumbersome, time-consuming process. In addition, we’ve gained efficiencies in route drawings- reducing that process time from 12 hours on average down to 1 hour.
  • Meeting the needs of stakeholders: Politicians often asked for changes and continue to make those requests. We are able to meet their needs faster, and they seem satisfied with the quicker turnaround. In addition, our Board is able to access more information on deciding what route changes to make. They can articulate an idea, and we can very quickly check the impact of that idea, look at various options and assess them in a more analytical way with data about each change. This allows the Board to be more involved in route planning and take accountability for their decisions, as they are now more informed with the data and insights to back them. 
  • Cost savings: Prior to Remix, we didn’t have a map function to be able to show all the routes and possible changes of routes on a map. We would draw in Google maps or draw it on paper and then take a photo of the paper drawing for presentations. Periodically, we would engage the advertisement agencies that we have contracts with to draw the map. Now with Remix, we can look at more options and leverage demographic layers to provide data to back our findings for each option that we present. As a result of no longer needing to engage an agency for map drawings, we have been able to realize a cost savings of about $550 per small map by doing everything in Remix-- that all adds up when working on maps throughout the year. We are also more self-sufficient without the need to outsource this work.
  • Better public outreach: Remix has allowed us to foster healthy public outreach, as evidenced by our recent open house and online channel which generated 600+ suggestions in Remix.


Straetó open house for public outreach in Fjörður shopping center


Remix sets the standard for us as a technology partner when we evaluate technology providers for other needs. We recently signed a new data vendor, and one of the main reasons we selected them was because they gave us a similar feeling to what we have experienced with Remix from a customer experience standpoint. Remix really sets the bar.

Ragnheiður Einarsdóttir

Transport Planning Specialist, Strætó

Tell us about the public outreach you did regarding designing a new road network and the feedback you received.

In May 2019, we started a new project designing a new bus network. A top priority for us was engaging the public at an earlier stage in the project. We saw a Remix workshop that demonstrated how others had done this, and we wanted to do something similar. We first created a website to display our initial ideas. We wanted people to realize the plan was not finalized yet, and they could have an impact with their feedback. We opened it up online and people started commenting there. 

We also held six open houses located in high-trafficked areas. Approximately 400 people showed up. Those that stopped by received an explanation when they looked at the map. They could then search online if they wanted to dive deeper into where the stops were located. In particular, the new system has an important transfer knot, and people were able to see the transfers more clearly in Remix maps. The maps also contained demographic information on population and points of interest. 



The public weighs in with feedback at a Straetó open house in Smáralind shopping mall.

The public response was overwhelming. We received 860 comments through the open houses with 600 of those comments in Remix. The comments in Remix were very on-point. We guided them in the comments box by explicitly asking them to comment on the route or stops. This made it easier for us to categorize the comments for analysis.

Overall, the public outreach was very successful, and we are excited to hold another one soon. Giving the public a channel to engage them early in the process and allow them to influence the decision-making process is valuable in ensuring the best possible outcomes for our public.



Explaining the new road network in Remix at a Straetó open house in Mjódd shopping and service center.


Please share another example of a project done in Remix.

The past two years, we had to work on a bus reduction and determine the best options for making these cuts. We used Remix to see the effect of different reductions. For example, if we cut service here, you can save this amount of money. We made a table with options and cost savings figures, and presented it to the Board to make those important decisions. They were impressed that we had the ability to calculate all of those scenarios, and they were happy with our work.  


Sample Remix Transit screenshot- not representative of Straetó



Sample Remix Transit screenshot- not representative of Straetó


Do you feel you’re a strategic partner helping to shape and build the Remix product?

Yes. We feel like our opinion matters and that the Remix team genuinely cares about us. They want to make sure we’re getting the most out of their product. Our Remix partners listen to our feedback and strive to continuously improve. We’ve already seen many improvements that have been made since we started using Remix, and we see that they’re always progressing and making things better. That’s a really positive experience to have. 

As a result, Remix sets the standard for us as a technology partner when we evaluate technology providers for other needs. For example, we recently signed a new data vendor and one of the main reasons we selected them was because they gave us a similar feeling to what we have experienced with Remix from a customer experience standpoint. Remix really sets the bar.  


What’s next for Straetó?

Due to our current Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, we’ll be looking at the whole route network. We’re in the second phase of this project, and it’s a continuous process. We’ll have the map in Remix perpetually available on our website so people can see what the ideas are at each stage. For planning departments at municipalities, they can see the map as the master plan for the bus network system. People are already asking us things like “I’m planning for this area- what do you expect the bus network to look like?” We simply direct them to a Remix map. We plan to use Remix to figure out the cost of running the new BRT route system. For future projects, we want to show people before and after scenarios with demographic analysis. We have a lot of exciting work ahead, and we’re armed with the tools to be able to execute.


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