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Remix is web-hosted application for planning public transit systems. It automates the process of route and schedule scenario testing, letting planners draw routes onto a map and immediately see a potential schedule and fleet requirements. This can exponentially decrease the time costs of experimenting with different scenarios. As of October 2016, 36 transit agencies in California and over 150 across the world are using Remix. These agencies range in size from just a couple fleet vehicles to well over a thousand.
How it Works
The process of route planning has typically required paper maps and work in Excel or other software packages. Remix consolidates data and analytical tools for route planning into a web interface. When an agency signs up with Remix, the company will work with them to integrate the system into the agency’s workflow. Remix employees import route info into the software using GTFS and provide employee training.
After onboarding is complete, the agency can start using Remix. Some or all routes appear on a map alongside tables showing route information like headways, speed, cost, and people served. As a planner draws or adjusts a route, this information changes in real time.
In order to better understand the impact of a route, various information layers such as population density and poverty rate can be overlaid onto the map. This helps ensure that the system is reaching the people and places it needs to, and any changes are compliant with Title 6 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In addition, the Remix staff can create custom layers using GIS data provided by the agency. For example, one agency in Australia created a shapefile for projected population growth to better plan for their future service area.
Transit systems aren’t lines on maps; they are ways for people to get around a city. Remix includes a rider surrogate isochrone tool called Jane. You can put Jane anywhere on the map, select a time of day, and see how far she could travel in 15, 30, 45, or 60 minutes. This is helpful both for intra-agency planning and public outreach.
Title VI Engine
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prevents against discrimination in the provision of government services, including public transportation. A transit agency must do a Title VI analysis of any route changes to ensure that they do not disproportionately impact minority populations. This is incredibly important, but it does make it difficult for agencies to engage in major system change. Remix takes the complicated process of Title Vi analysis and simplifies it to a one-click automated function.
The most obvious application for Remix is in the internal planning process. Planners can use the tool to quickly model scenarios and plan anything from a simple detour on a single route to an entirely new transit system.
Remix can be used as a powerful outreach tool. In public meetings, it can allow a presenter to give a live demonstration of possible changes to a system. The real-time cost adjustments give a clear representation of how feasible a plan is. Most people have trouble visualizing how the average citizen can interact with a transit system, so Jane has a large potential to clarify the utility of a system.
- Scenario Planning in Torrance, CA - With a very small team, Torrance Transit was unable to make significant changes to its service. Scenario planning could be a months-long process. Remix cut this down to just a few days. Using the platform, the agency was able to model the effects of consolidating service on one of its bus lines and figured out it could do so without harming the community. Once implemented, the change will save Torrance Transit over half a million dollars per year.
- Collaboration in Greater Seattle, WA - Planning doesn’t just involve one agency; any project is going to have multiple stakeholders. When King County Metro was working on a 25-year plan to add 2.5 million service hours to the network, it was looking at two years of consensus-building. Using Jane to clearly demonstrate the way routes interact, the planning team cut the feedback time on iterations in half and finalized the plan in just 9 months, with 2 or 3 fewer staff than would have been necessary otherwise.
- Planning for a Transit Tax in Indianapolis, IN - In November 2016, residents in central Indiana voted on a quarter-cent income tax hike to let the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization increase bus service in two counties. Remix has let the MPO clearly demonstrate where the money would go. Working entirely in-house, the organization planned 7 scenarios for 7 funding levels that they could take to public meetings. The referendum passed.
- Federal Transit Administration. "Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964." 2016.
- Remix. "Taking the Heartache Out of Planning in Torrance, CA." 2016.
- Remix. "King County Metro Builds Consensus in Record Time During Long-Range Plan." 2016.
- Remix. "Preparing for a Transit Tax Increase in Indianapolis, Indiana." 2016.
- Remix maintains a blog with additional case studies, webinars, and information about product updates. The blog also has videos from Remix's annual conferences, where planners talk about the way they use the tool at their agencies.