The Stories Data Can Tell

  • Date: June 11, 2020

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Data collection provides an opportunity for transit agencies, even small-urban and rural departments, to gain significant insights into how riders use their systems. In this factsheet, we highlight some reports that demonstrate the value that can be gleaned from data collected from all types of transportation.

Technology Enhancements for Volunteer Driver Programs

A report from Mass Mobility titled Innovations in Volunteer Transportation demonstrates progress that transit technology has provided, even in relatively low-tech, personalized service of volunteer driver programs. Technology used for scheduling and dispatching, data management and analysis, cross-program collaboration and coordination, and meeting passenger needs and preferences are a few topics that this report touches on, with excellent examples of how data and transit technology can positively impact each of these elements.

Senior Transportation Data

Massachussetts’ statewide Council on Aging database has collected data about many aspects of services aimed at seniors. A report analyzing this data shows what modes of transportation are available and used by seniors. This report explains how communities of different sizes provide transportation, as well as providing a case study of how data can provide a description of services, collaboration with other programs, and make comparisons across communities and adjustments to services.

Performance Measurement and Evaluation

Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation is a TCRP report that looks at case studies of large transit systems and gives examples of processes to identify performance measures and frameworks for their use. Words of wisdom in this report include suggested data sources (p. 20), advice about employing data and analysis from partner agencies and organizations (p. 14-15), and insightful questions to ask to determine the quality of performance measures (p. 38 and A 10-11). A concise takeaway is that it may be better to avoid setting targets and instead institute directional goals (p. 13)


Mass Mobility Source: Massachussets COA Source: TCRP Source: N-CATT Source:

Content originally published in Mobility Management News, Aug. 2019, and updated in N-CATT Tech News February 2020.