Exponentially growing their base of editors, Moovit is speeding up their delivery of real-time updates, cutting frustration over closures or station changes
While public transit authorities are increasingly using social media to respond to service disruptions and commuter complaints, the information they post is often specific to their agency and slow to report changes in service access as station sites.
The Israel-based transportation app Moovit, which aggregates public transit data for and from its users, helping them to plan the fastest routes to get where they are going, works with commuters to overcome these customer service gaps. The latest update to it, for Android as version 4.13, will allow users to make “edits to many attributes of a station.”
This means that users can add entrance-exit specifics (useful for pickup and drop off plans) and upload photos that can be useful for identifying the right stop. It also marks a significant expansion of the reporting base from an existing 65,000 editors and ambassadors to that of all Moovit users, which includes some 40 million commuters across 65 countries.
Yovav Meydad, Moovit VP of Products, said in a statement marking the update that “We’re now empowering all of our millions of users to make changes and improvements within the app.”
The company has said that these new user generated edits to will be reviewed by their existing team, with the goal of approving the changes within a 48 hour period.
So far, there is no word on when a similar update for iOS will be released, but they have told Geektime that it is on its way.
More information equals less frustration
These extra layers of information can be very useful for commuters in places where official notification systems fall short. I have experienced this several times as a rail commuter in the NYC metro area. Station staff are only present at the most heavily trafficked stops during the morning weekday commute. This is done to save money, since some stops only see a few dozen passengers daily. But commuters at these less trafficked stops, or even heavily trafficked ones on weekends and holidays, can be overlooked with only official (and often automated) systems to rely on. In such cases, calling customer service or the transit police is not much help.
Moovit provides updates on escalator and elevator outages, or if departure and arrival areas have been changed. Such notice would be important at several stops on the line I use where there is no handicap access except via elevator. Parking and street access are also good to know, since official notifications about parking rarely come forth unless it is a major emergency or planned disruption. Also, after the morning rush hour ends, there is no one to buy a ticket from if the ticketing machines stop working, except on the train for a cash surcharge or with an e-ticketing app. These are the sort of smaller details that Moovit’s expanded user base could provide updates for.
Recognizing this disconnect between commuters and the transit authorities, over the past few years, Moovit has been compiling user data to paint a broader picture of cities’ transportation networks, with the goal of finding areas for improvement in travel times.
Some city governments are also aware of the potential for this kind of relationship, interested in putting that data to use, with Rio de Janerio reaching deals with Strava, Google’s Waze, and Moovit to access user data – and in turn, city governments like Rio’s provide Moovit with GPS updates on their transit vehicles.
A 2014 study by NYU on co-monitoring between transit authorities and commuters has found that this approach can “save time and lower the costs of field monitoring [by transit authorities] while raising the trust between transit agencies and their customers,” though this approach is still in its infancy.