By its very nature, the mass transit industry provides an atmosphere for geographic information systems (GIS) to thrive. Transit agenciescan utilize the critically needed tracking, management, and analysis tools that these GIS-based systems provide to manage, store, and manipulate spatial data. This data is then communicated to users, like the transit customer, giving them reliable information that enables them to make wise decisions, such as their trip on mass transit. Without these advanced, now foundational GIS-based systems, an agency like Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), Georgia’s largest mass transit provider, would find it difficult to compete and survive in the evolving mass transit industry.
GIS has evolved from a desktop application targeted at GIS professionals to a suite of user-friendly GIS tools. This evolution has transformed the relationship between the geographical information system and the end-user. As a result, GIS users and consumers realize much greater ease of data gathering, monitoring, analysis, and data sharing than ever before. Facilitating this migration into an environment that can aggregate data from multiple systems into a single, real-time operational dashboard, allows users to perform analysis.
GIS transit data collected and organized by an agency such as MARTA can be transformed into informative maps and applications used to provide information to requesting parties. This information includes presentations and informational packages, as well as numerous kinds of analysis. They can be used to retrieve archival information related to previous incarnations of an agency’s transit routings, review aerial imagery of the area the bus or train accesses, or provide necessary information about the system layout. This data can be made available to users, businesses, and other agencies through an open data hub. This publicly accessible, centralized data sharing site is an easy way for an agency like MARTA to provide access to continuously updated, shareable geographic data that can then be consumed by patrons or other entities to do analysis, build applications, etc.
The departments that handle route and service planning require multiple GIS tools, such as network analysis tools, that assist in assessing current routing, schedules, and evaluate changes.There is also the need for planning and managing stop locations and tracking numerous field staff and their work.