In early 2022, Long Beach Transit was looking for solutions to the challenges they were facing in maintaining the condition of bus stops and bus stop amenities.
Long Beach Transit (LBT) is a municipal transit company that provides bus transportation in Los Angeles and Orange County. The company has a fleet of 250 buses across fourteen cities that cover 100 square miles. LBT has a ridership of more than 23 million customers.
LBT uses Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to both generate interactive and static route network maps and analyze ridership patterns across its service area. The GIS supports the transit business by enabling staff to plan, maintain, and locate transit infrastructure. GIS analysts regularly fulfill map and data requests and keep the GIS databases and web maps current as the bus timetables and routes are updated.
Check out more here: LBT GIS Data Catalog.
The project team was a coalition of three companies, Long Beach Transit (LBT), Environmental Research Institute (Esri), and Quartic Solutions. LBT uses Esri’s ArcGIS platform for their GIS and thus turned to Esri for guidance in choosing an ArcGIS based solution. ArcGIS Field Maps, along with a customizable survey template, were selected. Quartic Solutions, a woman-owned Esri business partner and premier GIS services firm, was chosen to provide GIS staffing and expertise to LBT in March 2022.
The project started.
A prototype was successfully tested.
The first stage of systemwide fieldwork is projected to begin in the summer 2023.
Public transportation in Los Angeles is essential to many people’s everyday lives. Long Beach Transit ensures everyone feels safe and can enjoy the entire bus experience, from waiting for the bus to reaching their final destination.
LBT (Long Beach Transit) has over 2,000 bus stops in its service area. While their Transit Customer Amenities (TCA) Department is responsible for maintaining the cleanliness at each bus stop, they have faced some challenges. Issues like how to maintain an up-to-date database of site conditions, ensuring ADA accessibility, and making sure amenities are maintained and available at each bus stop. The condition information about the bus stops is critical and necessary for making sound decisions, such as which bus stops need improvements.
TCA had a legacy solution in place that provided access to the bus stop data but, was looking for additional tools to help make their jobs easier.
Back in 2012, LBT developed a bus stop survey that contained basic information about bus stops. After using the old system for over ten years, the staff knew exactly what they wanted to change. They needed a solution that would help minimize data entry errors during the field data collection and that would have a new option for capturing photos. Being able to attach photos would really help staff record details of the visual conditions at specific locations. They also wanted a more streamlined user-friendly application interface. By standardizing the wording of the amenity inventory, they felt they could reduce data entry errors, such as typos and non-accurate descriptions. The plan was to develop a database that was better suited for storing the complex infrastructure relationships (1 to many relationships). Then, design an application allowing supervisors to review and approve work. Adding better tracking of data associated with bus stop amenities was also important.
The three organizations worked well together to address and resolve the complications LBT was facing with their previous legacy software.
The project team architected a cloud-based solution using AWS infrastructure and the Esri ArcGIS platform. The solution included both a mobile field map data collection application and an on-premise web mapping application.
A solid foundation for the project was built by cleaning and loading existing data into a new database. The data were organized into 14 related tables covering a wide variety of information such as passenger amenity types, amenity condition, comments, and pictures. Then, crucial data regarding ADA compliance was incorporated. The traffic condition data was added to enrich the dataset, including the site conditions, such as the stop area location and pedestrian crosswalks.
The field data collection application was created using the survey template that is included with ArcGIS Field Maps. The Field Maps App is available for download via the Apple App Store and/or Google Play Store. Once downloaded, the Field Maps App was configured for LBT staff, and tools to minimize user input errors, archive data, and easy editing were included.
Offline data collection is built into the Field Maps App. Once a field user is reconnected to the network, the local data stored in the Field App is uploaded to ArcGIS Portal.
Then, after the sync, a supervisor can view the approval screen, where all the new and/or edited records are presented in an intuitive table format, ready to approve.
More advanced functionality is available with the Service Planning Bus Stop Web Application when staff is on-premise. The Bus Stop Web App is a web map containing current LBT stops, active routes, and historical ridership data combined with the new bus stop amenity data. The progress of staff working in the field is easily visualized by viewing the color of the bus stops. Staff can quickly review a stop’s amenity data in pop-up menus by clicking on the map.
Three times a year, LBT makes service changes to its service network. To facilitate these recurring service changes, the solution also includes functionality to automatically add new stops and inactivate old stops if a new service change is initiated.
Like in every complex project, there were some obstacles to overcome. In this case, the challenge arose when incorporating the old 2012 amenity data. The data was collected as one big database table with no relationship classes. Specific amenities had multiple values and duplicate entries. In order to load the old data to the new normalized tables, Quartic designed an ETL model that appended and split data as needed for the improved schema. Data cleanup tasks, such as standardizing to coded domain values, were automated, resulting in a tidy dataset with increased data integrity.
The picture 5. is a screenshot of an example of the coded value domains - the left column is the domain name to be assigned to certain fields, and the right is the options for that domain. This prevents users from making spelling/formatting errors.
With the data being collected and turned into an easy-to-read format, LBT can provide up-to-date bus stop amenity and ADA information to the public and transit customers. LBT staff can more easily identify which bus stops have accessibility improvements and the condition of those improvements. They can collaborate with related government agencies, such as municipal public works departments, to better prioritize crosswalk and sidewalk pedestrian improvements.
The restructured data and new application architecture were tested in June 2022 by LBT staff by collecting bus stop amenities and ADA information. The test used the Metro Route 130 service transition to LBT Route 141. The first stage of systemwide fieldwork will begin in the summer of 2023.
Based on the successful conclusion of the prototype project, LBT will consider planning a larger system-wide implementation and rollout, incorporating the updated bus stop data into LBT's GIS databases alongside GTFS (General Transit Feed System) network, land use, ridership, and demographic information.
This is an example of how GIS technology can support transit operations and ultimately make public transit safer and more enjoyable for everyone.
"Quartic has extensive experience with a highly qualified GIS technical service team.”- Long Beach Transit, Service Development Manager.
Geographic Information System (GIS) technology can be used in various industries to enhance efficient data usage and, through that, better decision-making. Long Beach Transit (LBT) has realized the importance of good-quality data and the benefits of GIS. LBT is a municipal transit company that provides bus transportation in Los Angeles and Orange County. LBT has a fleet of 250 buses across fourteen cities. LBT has a ridership of 23 million customers.
LBT uses GIS technology to generate both interactive and static route network maps and analyze ridership patterns across its service area. The GIS supports the transit business by enabling staff to plan, maintain, and locate transit infrastructure. GIS analysts regularly fulfill map and data requests and keep the GIS databases and web maps current as the bus timetables and routes are updated.
In early 2022 LBT turned to Esri (Environmental Systems Research Institute) for guidance and support for their GIS operations. As an Esri Advantage program member, LBT uses Esri’s ArcGIS platform for their GIS. As a forward from Esri, Quartic Solutions, a woman-owned Esri business partner and premier GIS services firm was chosen to provide GIS staffing and expertise to LBT in March 2022.
LBT goes through 3 service changes a year. The service changes involve a change of bus routes, stops, and schedules. Preparation for the service changes takes months and the collaboration of multiple departments. Quartic support these transitions by adding new bus stops to their geospatial bus stop bank, editing or adding route lines for static and interactive maps, updating the systemwide web map, and maintaining their GIS Data Catalog that is available to the public.
When the service planners at LBT consider limiting or expanding the hours of transit in an area, Quartic has assisted by visualizing the spatial component of ridership data for the area. This allows LBT to have an easy-to-read document that supports their decision-making. Ridership data is collected in various ways across the transit network. One example is TAP (Transit Access Pass), which is a contactless smart card used for automatic fare collection. The TAP data that is recorded includes the longitude and latitude of the bus stop where the card was used. This data is used to visualize the amount of boardings and/or alightings (departures) in the Long Beach area. The maps are helpful when service changes are proposed or when micro transit (small-scale on-demand transit) opportunities are being considered. Quartic has also implemented a monthly dashboard that provides average daily boardings at bus stops with the option to filter by route, time period, amount of boardings, weekday, and stop number.
Quartic has been a part of various projects at LBT. One major project was a collaboration with Quartic and ESRI to develop a prototype of field surveying that would streamline the collection of bus stop amenities, such as seating, shelters, lighting, and ADA accessibility. The three organizations used Field Maps and Enterprise to create a customized survey template in Field Maps that standardizes the amenity data collection, allows for picture attachments, and syncs to the LBT Portal, where a supervisor can approve the records. After a successful test of a prototype, LBT is planning on conducting the field surveying soon.
Another request was an improvement to the current Comfort Zones Application. Comfort zones are rest stops for bus drivers and can change when routes or bus stops are added or removed. The original map application consisted of individual maps for each route and did not allow for any feedback from the drivers or filtering.
Quartic combined Survey123 with ArcGIS Dashboards to create a dashboard with one map that the driver can filter by their duty number, weekday, and/or route. When a driver clicks on a comfort zone, they see a picture of the rest stop, the building address, and a link to Google Streetview. A right-side panel on the dashboard opens a Survey123 form where the driver can add or view comments concerning the comfort zone.
City of San Diego Integrates GIS with Accela ROW Management and Uses a Custom ArcGIS Online Web App for Citizen Access
A Street Preservation Ordinance Mandated Utilities Coordination
In 2013, the City of San Diego added the Street Preservation Ordinance (SPO) to the San Diego Municipal Code. The City’s Transportation and Stormwater Department (TSW) manages the policies and procedures to minimize damage to public infrastructure and to recover costs to the City resulting from excavations in the public right-of-way (ROW). The SPO requires that utilities coordinate their infrastructure projects and sets excavation moratoriums where pavement work has been done. From 2001 to 2017, TSW relied on a custom Interactive Mapping Coordination Action Tool (IMCAT) to coordinate projects in the ROW.
In September 2015, the City began a migration to the Accela Civic Platform and the Accela ROW Management Module was selected as the replacement for IMCAT. Quartic Solutions was brought in to lead the creation, integration, and management of GIS data and processes into the new system. We also created a public-facing custom Web App in ArcGIS Online.
GIS was Integrated with the Accela ROW Management Module
The Accela ROW Management Module consolidates GIS and project information from multiple departments and systems, including utility data from Public Works, Capital Improvement Projects (CIP), Primavera project management, Development Services Department (DSD) permits, special events, and excavation moratorium locations. This information is analyzed by time and location to identify and highlight areas of potential conflict in the ROW.
Quartic developed a series of scripts to feed the Accela API with data from the City’s Enterprise GIS and Primavera CIP management system. Through this development effort, Quartic worked with the City to identify authoritative sources for the data and to enforce standards for maintenance and content.
An ArcGIS Online Web App was created for Use by Citizens
The Project Finder Web App uses much of the same data as the Accela ROW Management module. Python scripts were created to access the source data and refresh the map services every 2 weeks. The app allows a citizen to see City CIP projects, permits, special events, and moratorium locations. Searches can be done by address and filtered by project type. Project details and contact information are easily viewed by clicking on the map.