Development of Spatial Functions and Databases for the Design and Evaluation of Transit Routes and Stops
The design and evaluation of transit routes and stops are an ongoing effort of every transit agency. They are needed to provide both the agencies and the public a better understanding of where resources are being applied, how well services are being delivered and used, and how service changes can be made and justified. A Geographic Information System (GIS) is an ideal tool for performing the related analysis. In practice, however, most transit agencies have continued to rely on the "eyeballing" method with the help of their local knowledge and experience for service planning and evaluation. This is the case even for large and progressive transit agencies such as Broward County Transit (BCT). The Department can help change such practice by providing the agencies with the tools, data, and training needed to apply GIS technology in their route and stop design and evaluation. Such leadership of the Department will also help to avoid duplicated effort by transit agencies and set a standard practice for route and stop design and evaluation for Florida.
The good news is that the Department does not have to provide such leadership from ground zero. The Department has already developed a relatively comprehensive version of GIS system, called the Florida Transit Geographic Information System (FTGIS). This system is currently a major component in the Florida Transit Information System (FTIS). It provides an excellent building block for developing a comprehensive set of tools for transit service design and evaluation. FTGIS is a stand-alone, user-friendly program developed using the MapObjects developer's library from ESRI. The current version of FTGIS supports most of the essential GIS functions and is readily to be expanded for additional functionality. FTGIS is more than just a GIS shell program. It comes with the network data, socio-economic and demographic data, and aerial photographs for Florida's transit systems.
It is envisioned that the Department will continue to develop FTGIS and for good reasons. FTGIS has served an important need by providing Florida's transit agencies with multiple copies of desktop GIS access at no cost to the agencies. Although the Department is in the process of developing an enterprise GIS, it will be difficult to expect this agency-wide system to be able to perform such specialized functionality as walk buffer, time point, and route scenario analysis, to name but a few. In addition, there is a concern about whether the departmental Enterprise GIS will be able to meet the transit needs in a timely manner, given the many competing needs. There is also a concern about how the needs of transit agencies and customers for GIS services can be delivered. In short, the development of the Enterprise GIS should serve the Department's general need for an agency-wide system, but it will not replace the need for a transit-oriented system like FTGIS.
Building on the transit GIS features of FTGIS, Census 2000 data, APTS and operations data from transit agencies, and other data sources, this project will develop a comprehensive set of tools and supporting databases for the design and evaluation of transit routes and stops. In addition to enabling the display of transit information by stop and route segment, this project will allow FTGIS to perform ridership impact analysis of different route and stop configurations. This project will transform FTGIS into a more dynamic tool for evaluating transit performance at the route and stop level.