Now in its seventh year, the Innovative Solutions Awards honors bus operations and their supplier partners who have implemented initiatives that helped them save money, run more efficiently, streamline operations, increase safety, improve customer satisfaction, increase ridership, and more.
METRO’s staff would like to thank everyone who applied, and congratulations again goes to all our winners.
GIRO and L.A. Metro collaborated to develop the Customer Impact Simulator (CIS) — a software tool for transit planners that calculates an expanded range of customer-benefit metrics and is integrated into the NetPlan module of GIRO’s HASTUS public transit optimization software. The CIS uses the transit agency’s origin-destination matrix to enable planners to evaluate the impacts of different network scenarios on travel time and service quality, based on customers’ travel patterns and behavior. By estimating expected ridership, the CIS also allows planners to scale service levels more precisely and forecast potential crowding issues when planning network adjustments.
Through its integration with the HASTUS software used to optimize public transit scheduling and operations, the CIS uses actual routes and timetables, which saves time and generates more accurate results. Through the CIS, planners can quickly model various scenarios, and easy-to-understand dashboards can be shared quickly with external stakeholders and decision makers to give them an overview of the key CIS results, while also facilitating the process for input on proposed changes. Planners can also easily transfer the selected scenario to schedulers for it to be put in operation.
“NetPlan has enabled our planners to create accurate scenarios very efficiently,” says Wayne Wassell, sr. manager, transportation planning, for L.A. Metro. “It has also saved us a lot of time; it frees schedulers from being involved in creating scenarios, and they only need to optimize the scenarios that planners have identified.”
Partnering on the NextGen strategic project came about quite naturally. L.A. Metro has been a GIRO client since 1982, and during these nearly four decades the operator and supplier have built a relationship of close collaboration, proactivity, and responsiveness, according to GIRO officials.
“As a result of this close collaboration we knew that L.A. Metro was looking for a way to quantify the impact of different scenarios on current and potential riders as a key component of its ambitious NextGen Bus Plan,” company officials explain. “Our team had already started developing the CIS to assess such impacts directly in the NetPlan planning module of our HASTUS software, which L.A. Metro uses to manage and optimize its bus network. Having an actual use case and client to collaborate with to test and refine the tool allowed our team to speed up its development and make L.A. Metro’s need a priority.”
L.A. Metro used the CIS to consider travel quality and the customer perspective in evaluating different scenarios generated with NetPlan for their NextGen project, which was the first major overhaul of L.A. Metro’s bus system in more than 25 years. Since transit equity is always a key consideration when proposing changes, GIRO officials also point to the importance of L.A. Metro being able to analyze changes in transit accessibility caused by the proposed scenario by displaying them visually on a map, as well as making extensive use of the Title VI analysis provided with NetPlan.
The NextGen Bus Plan reinvented and improved the bus network in Los Angeles County to make it more relevant and attractive to existing and new customers, without increasing operating costs.
The agency used the CIS in every stage of the network redesign: analyzing ridership on the current network; evaluating new scenarios in relation to available resources as well as to their impacts on riders; developing optimized timetables; and public outreach. Implementation of the NextGen Bus Plan on Metro’s network commenced in December 2020.
“In developing the NextGen Bus Plan, it was important for us to identify cost-neutral solutions and to understand the impacts on customers,” says Dan Nguyen, deputy executive officer, operations, for L.A. Metro. “NetPlan was of great help in achieving these goals.”