Transit is not the same business it was thirty years ago. Gone are the days of paper schedules, call centres and waiting for buses that never show up. Commuters today have access to an array of sophisticated transportation apps that make travelling by transit easier and more accessible than ever. But when customers have a plethora of apps to choose from, what features make a transit app rise above the competition? We’re highlighting five capabilities consumers have come to expect from their transportation tools, in order to best help agencies design winning customer experiences. These are the features you’ll want to incorporate in your own client-facing tools, no matter what kind of transit service you’re offering.
1. Interactive Mapping
An absolutely essential—but easy to fumble—component for leading transit apps is an interactive map. Apps that rely on a clunky or unintuitive maps as part of their user interface are destined to struggle. A best-in-class example of strong interactive mapping is ADEPT IQ’s imbedded map, which is available to customers, drivers and dispatchers. ADEPT IQ’s map provides live information, including delays and projected pickup times, so that customers know exactly when their transportation is due and when to adjust accordingly. Having the information available in an easy-to-understand map is the best way to share transit data.
2. Multi-Modal Connections
The modern commuter has multiple options to choose from when getting from point A to point B. From taxis, ride hailing and car shares to bike and scooter shares, buses and trains, it can often be a complex task for commuters to decide which option is the best one for their day. This is especially true when it comes to combining different modes on the same trip. The best transit apps do this work for commuters by integrating different modes into one package, and planning routes that efficiently use the most direct modes. Apps that can tell commuters when they need to transfer, and even include the cost of each trip, rise above the rest.
3. Responsive Data
Anything can happen during a daily commute. Congestion, mechanical issues, weather events and other day-of changes can cause significant and unexpected delays for travellers. Commuters need to stay ahead of these changes, and apps that can achieve this goal are the gold standard. For example, carpool app Waze crowdsources traffic conditions: the app’s users note issues that are causing delays, and these observations are shared with all members, so that commuters know what to expect and when to change their plans. Other apps like Google Maps measure the speed that a phone is moving through the transportation system, and will use this data to show where congestion is occurring.
4. Real-Time Updates
No one wants to wait on the side of the road, wondering where their bus is. Despite having a set schedule, delays can happen. That’s why travellers are increasingly looking to transportation apps to provide data in real time. Transit is an app that rises above the rest when it comes to providing vehicle location in real time. Transit uses actual GPS location data, rather than published schedules, to show you exactly where your bus is located and when it will arrive. This is a key convenience feature that travellers have come to expect.
5. Appealing Rewards
App designers should be paying attention to the latest trends, and rewards—such as cashback, for example—are perks that younger generations are increasingly demanding. Transit agencies are just beginning to understand this trend and look at rewards as a way to incentivize transit. One example is Miles, an app that tracks travel distances and gives out points to members who take more sustainable modes of travel, such as walking or transit. The points can be redeemed for gift cards and other rewards, all through the app.
Whether building a new app from scratch or looking to leverage an existing app, agencies should keep their eye on these five key features to ensure they’re rolling out apps customers actually want to use. Fleet managers can compare their existing offerings with this list: if these features are missing, it’s time to look for a replacement. DDS has a range of options that are designed specifically to meet the demands of today’s customers.
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