Closing the Loop: Improving Transit through Crowdsourced Information


Sean J. Barbeau

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, technology - intelligent transport systems, technology - passenger information, ridership - behaviour, ridership - perceptions, planning - signage/information, planning - service improvement


real-time information, ridership, customer feedback


Offering real-time arrival information to riders via mobile applications has been shown to improve the rider’s perception of transit, and even increase ridership. This direct connection to riders also offers the transit agency an opportunity to collect feedback on how transit service and infrastructure can be improved, including pedestrian and bike access to transit. These improvements will lead to an enhanced customer experience and can potentially help address Title VI access equity concerns. However, managing the sheer volume of this rider feedback can be very challenging, especially when various departments and agencies (e.g., city/county government) are involved (e.g., who owns the bench by the bus stop?). This paper discusses the design and deployment of a pilot project in Tampa, Florida, which focused on the improvement of the feedback loop from riders back to transit agencies, local government, and departments of transportation. This project made enhancements to the open-source OneBusAway mobile app, originally deployed in Tampa in 2013, to include support for the Open311 standard for issue reporting. Open311 support gives agencies the option of selecting a hosted issue management solution such as and, or the option to utilize existing open-source Open311-compliant software. Lessons learned from regional collaboration surrounding issue reporting and infrastructure improvements are discussed, as are the technical design and challenges behind implementing such a system. The results of the first 6 months of system deployment covering 677 issue reports are presented, including specific examples of cross-jurisdictional and multimodal issues reported by the public.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by SAGE, copyright remains with them.