Detroit Tapping Analytics To Improve Transit

Detroit is working with an analytics startup to identify areas of weakness in its transit networks and create efficient solutions to improve services

What Happened?

Detroit is working with an analytics startup to identify areas of weakness in its transit networks and create efficient solutions to improve services.


The Detroit Department of Transportation has teamed up with an analytics startup to prepare a series of reports and measurable changes through analysis of advanced metrics. The bus agency hopes to leverage data optimization technologies to pinpoint the cause of inefficient bus routes and implement immediate changes to ensure transit network performance improves, Crain’s Detroit Business reported.

Currently, the Detroit Department of Transportation is struggling to fix several issues including:

  • Late buses
  • Inefficient routes
  • Lack of appropriately located stations
  • One-third of city buses in need of maintenance
  • Poor financial record-keeping

Because the Detroit bus system is facing so many problems, the department has reported a decline in ridership by 11 million trips over the last four years. The department hopes taking an analytics approach to problem-solving will help reduce unnecessary costs while boosting overall performance and service satisfaction, Crain’s Detroit Business reported.

The Details

The analytics startup working with Detroit is offering to perform the analysis and make recommendations pro bono, allowing the city to have its data analyzed for free. Once census, economic, DOT and other data has been collected, the startup with use mapping, predictive modeling and game theory to create analytics reports and guide decision making, Crain’s Detroit Business reported.

The analytics experts will peruse the data sets to identify patterns surrounding areas of inefficiency. Using data-driven analytics, transit planners will be better equipped to solve critical problems that are holding back economic growth and residential quality of life.


Similar to Detroit, Toronto is interested in solving its transit concerns through data analytics. The city’s transit commission is partnering with an analytics provider to collect information for a five-year initiative to improve Toronto’s public transportation network which includes the subway, streetcars, buses and paratransit services.

Toronto will use a data analytics tools to evaluate daily service deliver across all modes of transportation. Once the data has been collected and analyzed, the transit commission will be able to:

  • Identify inefficiencies
  • Develop operational improvement strategies
  • Improve performance
  • Deliver better service to residents

Toronto aims to standardize and study all available transportation data to ensure any operational changes will result in long-term, sustainable improvements in navigation and quality of life.

Internet of Things

Many cities have plans to go beyond analytics reports when improving the efficiency of transportation and other public services. A recent report from Verizon predicts the Internet of Things market will grow more than 10 percent in the next decade. The Internet of Things platform model are helping communities aggregate and understand key community data sets faster and more efficiently to enable real time decision making, CIO reported.

For example, the Internet of Things is already improving many aspects of transportation efficiency such as:

  • Smart LED street lighting
  • Smart meters collecting granular data on energy usage
  • Fleet devices tracking usage and efficiency

To ensure the Internet of Things platform is operating at full efficiency, the report highlighted three critical components:

  • Aware: Assets must be able to sense surroundings
  • Autonomous: Data processed must be automatically transferred for processing
  • Actionable: The insights acquired from the data must help guide decision making

As the Internet of Things continues to grow in popularity, researchers expect more cities to adopt the platforms to increase access to information for residents, improve delivery of services and reduce unnecessary spending.

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