“It’s 6:17. I’ve been working all day and I want to go home! Where is my shuttle?”
Fair question. And to answer it, MASCO provides one of the most innovative commuting solutions ever deployed: an interactive shuttle locator that combines GPS with Google mapping to display exactly where your bus is at any given time.
You can access the shuttle locator from any device with a Web connection, including your smartphone or other mobile device. Some MASCO members have even installed large LCD monitors at key locations that broadcast shuttle data live.
The Longwood Medical Area’s shuttle locator was the first to let you view multiple routes simultaneously. It also lets you select specific routes in order to find stops and get estimated arrival times.
MASCO worked with Harvard University and TransLoc to introduce the system in 2008. The first version was relatively simple, but it did something that no one had ever seen before: it showed the buses actually moving along the roads. This innovation was based on a psychological insight.
“Being able to ‘see’ your ride goes a long way toward making mass transit as appealing as having your own car,” says Josh Cohen, Director of Business Development at TransLoc, “It’s visible proof that you have the means to go where you want to.”
Response to the Shuttle Locator has been positive from the beginning:
“Extremely valuable and easy to use.”
- Jim Smith, Department Manager of Parking and Commuter Services, Children’s Hospital.
“This is a real timesaver!”
- Tom Graf, commuter
“It really helps when trying to catch a shuttle…”
- Mike Costello, commuter
Rider satisfaction is a moving target.
Persuading more people to use mass transit solutions is the key to alleviating congestion within the LMA. Fewer cars also mean a greener environment. Both are major priorities. So MASCO keeps improving the Shuttle Locator.
Recent upgrades include:
-- Introducing iPhone and Android apps. These have increased usage dramatically. The system now averages 27,000 inquiries per month.
-- Switching to a new platform provider with better cell phone tower coverage in the LMA. This has virtually eliminated “dead-spots”.
-- Introducing service-related text alerts and estimated arrival times.
The system has also proven to be a valuable management tool that helps MASCO and its transit partner, Paul Revere Transportation, monitor on-time performance and traffic conditions. David Clough, Director of Commuter Services and Parking Operations for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, also finds it to be useful, stating that: "TransLoc is a fantastic tool. We use it to track service challenges and help with our long range planning.”
The availability of comprehensive analytics has led to schedule adjustments that decrease passenger wait-times. To improve service quality further, managers are using the system’s new “Instant Replay” function to investigate rider complaints.
Alleviating congestion in the LMA remains an enormous challenge. 105,000 people come into the LMA every day. But 13,000 now travel by shuttle, a respectable percentage, and it’s growing.
TransLoc’s Josh Cohen sees it this way: “The better the experience, the more people will use the shuttle. Or use it more often. That’s why we’re all working so hard to make the experience the best it can be.”
To view the shuttle locator or download the shuttle tracker app, click here.