The Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation (PART) provides intercity and regional public transportation for the Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point, NC combined statistical area, known as the Piedmont Triad. Working with their partners, they strive to enhance mobility, address congestion, and reduce transportation related impacts on air quality. PART is governed by the PART Board of Trustees with representatives from 10 member counties, four Metropolitan Planning Organizations, the Triad’s four largest cities (Burlington, High Point, Greensboro, Winston-Salem), two regional airports, and the NCDOT Board of Transportation.
After funding cuts reduced service routes for several years, the time came to refresh routes and ensure that service was being optimized. PART needed a data-driven way to determine which routes should be cut, created, or adjusted.
PART leveraged Remix software to automatically calculate ridership and route impacts, allowing planners to visualize the impact of proposed changes -- all based on data.
We’ve been using Remix for about four years now. Before that, the planning department didn’t really do much route planning-- most of it was done by the operations department. The planning that was done was based on intuition, requests by a few people, and ridership numbers. Way back in 2004 or so, the first routes got sketched out on napkins, and there was this legacy of relying on assumptions more than data. By 2015 to 2016, we needed to be able to access data to drive decisions. That’s when Remix came into the picture.
When we were under pressure and needed to trim and refine service, we wanted to do it with data and Remix was the answer. It helped us be confident that we were picking the right routes to cut back or boost, and it gave us quick access to potential ridership demographics. This really increased our confidence, and our first changes based on Remix data resulted in an increase in ridership.
For us, the most useful thing about Remix is being able to improve efficiency and see the costs and impact while running through multiple options/scenarios. It has really helped us be able to summarize and show where investments should be made. When comparing the scenarios, the instant results churned out by Remix keep us from going down the wrong rabbit hole. We don’t waste time with the ideas we cannot afford to offer the public.
We always want to enhance the transit services we offer. Cutting back is a very difficult thing for a transit planner to stomach. Before Remix, it was far too simple to cut too much—to overreact to challenges. With Remix, we can be more “surgical” in our approach. But this works both ways. We can also judge the effects of small enhancements that can have big benefits for a route and use Remix outputs to easily campaign for their implementation.
We’ve used Remix’s “Jane” feature to help educate our board, which makes it more visual and easier for people to connect with the impact of route changes. When presenting options to the Operations and Planning Committee of the PART board, the Jane tool drives home the importance of better frequency and how it relates to increased access for our customers. The Jane tool has made explaining access to non-transit planners and users a breeze. It speaks to how visual so many of us are in making comparisons and analyzing the challenges we face.
We also use Jane in conjunction with route information for the urban systems we connect with (available through Remix). This enhances our understanding of what many of our riders are doing every workday—starting on one urban system, using our routes, and then completing their journey on another urban system. This kind of travel pattern is old hat for large urban centers in the US, but for our region it is something new for policy makers to wrap their heads around. Remix’s Jane tool is incredibly useful illustrating this concept.
For us, the most useful thing about Remix is being able to improve efficiency and see the costs and impact while running through multiple options and scenarios. It has really helped us to summarize and show where investments should be made.
We’ve been able to do Title VI* quickly and easily. The very first time we were cutting back routes was pre-Remix, and we did a Title VI report in several weeks. Now with Remix it only takes us one day. Title VI reports are not required for all the types of changes we’re doing, but we like to complete them to have the assurance that we are making good decisions.
*Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects people from discrimination based on race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.
We’re doing a refresh on four routes, and our proposed changes are out to the public for comment. We’re evaluating where, when, and how we can improve the public’s access to services. We use other tools, but generally they inform what we do in Remix. Remix can then confirm or counter assumptions we have made and the hypotheses we input—we rely on Remix to carry the bulk of the route planning workload.
Remix acts more like a strategic partner than a vendor. Over the years, we have felt like we are just next door or down the road from Remix offices. Their staff is that accessible and ready to help, and it feels like Remix has a real stake in transit here in NC.
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