Half a week in San Diego: CalACT review

Last week, I attended and presented at the conference of the California Association for Coordinated Transportation.

CalACT is California’s association of small and mid-sized rural and community transportation providers.  Even though these agencies don’t have information technology departments (they’re lucky to have one person dedicated part-time to IT) or the large budgets of metropolitain-scale transportation agencies, CalACT Spring 2009 showed that there is an abundance of need and interest for information technology and innovative marketing to make community transportation more efficient to operate and more appealing and easy-to-use for passengers.

Here were some highlights.

Mobility management

Mobility management has become a bit of a catch-all term for strategies to offer more, and better coordinated and more efficient transportation choices.  This can include better coordinating transportation service offerings internally in an agency for greater efficiency, providing integrated traveler information across multiple agencies, and advocating for transportation services (recognizing that it isn’t always most efficient for a transportation agency to directly provide service).

Transportation agencies, state and local governments, and advocates recognize that software and online systems can provide a lot to help coordinate transportation across multiple agencies and make choosing and accessing services easier for end users.

  • LIFT/Southwest Wisconsin Transit is a one stop/one call center for connecting with transportation options in an 8 county area of southwest Wisconsin.  Phillip Anderson from LIFT described, among other things, their website www.jointhemobilization.com, which notably includes links to several ridematching websites and services.  Phillip highlighted his organization’s interest in seeing aggregation for carpool and ride opportunties and coordination among ridematching services (maybe another word for this could be grassroots mobility management?)
  • Himanshu Bhatnagar presented on the Calnections and its spin-off projects.


California is deploying 211 human service information and 511 transportation information telephone services accross the state.  Since access to transportation and basic human services goes hand-in-hand, the most successful of these efforts are coordinating 511 and 211 information service efforts.

  • Kathryn Heatley of Outreach in San Jose, CA described the software and coordinating effort to integrate hundreds of human service and transportation providers to into one transportation brokering system, and its applications for everyday and emergency situations.

Google Transit

Along with Kimberly Gayle, Chief of Caltrans DMT, Sue Crowe of Shasta County RTPA, and Linda Rhine of NelsonNygaard, I presented on Google Transit and a project in Northeastern California to pilot using Google Transit for a collection of rural transit providers.  The were many great questions and a very high level of interest in Google Transit and the NE California project.

Here’s our slide deck.  The audience particularly liked some of the innovative uses of Google Transit and transit feed data that I included — Google Transit integration for event calendars, Walkscore.com transitshed mashups, and TimeTable Publisher.

(Note, the slide deck includes several movies that don’t play in the emedded Slideshare view.)