“Previously, on-demand was kind of in its own world, siloed into special projects, and then fixed route was the purview of typical strategic planning teams,” founder and CEO of Remix Tiffany Chu told TechCrunch. “Now, we’re going to be combining those two worlds together to more holistically help cities understand the allocation of resources before implementation.”
Over the years, Remix has received hundreds product requests for this type of tool, particularly from rural agencies or second tier cities that don’t have a public transit system that’s robust enough to handle the city’s mobility needs, according to Chu. As cities try to reach their carbon emissions goals, they are on the lookout for ways to get communities with high car ownership to mode shift.
The on-demand planning tool’s smart algorithm relies on data like demographics, population density, job makeup, car ownership status, geography and land use to help cities evaluate where it makes the most sense to deploy a flexible system in the context of what public transit they already have. The goal is by no means to cannibalize public transit, but rather to enhance it, according to Chu.
An agency’s interaction with the tool is fairly simple. A city planner draws a zone on a map, which immediately populates relevant statistics based on data from existing flexible and on-demand services around the world, including Via’s over 500 global partnerships and nearly 100 million rides with Remix’s intelligent transport planning software.
“And you can say, ‘If we have the budget for 10 vehicles, what would the waiting time be?’ Or if you want to say, ‘I want to ensure a five minute wait time for an on-demand service, maybe that tells me I’m going to need 15 vehicles instead of 10,’” said Chu. “It helps you be very logical about your resources as opposed to this hand-wavy planning which was previously how a lot of these on-demand zones were planned.”
In Seattle, Remix and Via have been working with the King County Metro to plan transit that links commuters with the fairly new light rail service that runs north to south, and soon, east to west. The county wants to help people get to the train service without necessarily constructing huge parking structures next to the stations, so it’s been partnering with Via to determine the best way to deploy on-demand zones around all of the new light rail station openings.
“Overall, on-demand planning was super helpful as a starting point for understanding where to draw our service areas and how much service we can provide with our current budget,” said innovative mobility senior planner Casey Gifford in a statement. “As a non-service planner, I was able to draft proposals and have data-driven, educated conversations with my service planning colleagues.”
Miami-Dade County has been working with Remix for the past two years to redesign its whole transit network, which means there will be cuts to lower performing fixed routes that were only servicing a handful of people.
“I sat down next to the director and drew an on-demand zone to substitute a low-performing fixed route,” said Carlos Cruz-Casas, assistant director of Miami-Dade County’s Department of Transportation, in a statement. “I was able to show that with the same number of vehicles, we can offer better service and save resources that could be reallocated into increasing fixed-route frequency on higher demand routes.”