Open Knowledge International

Late Night T

  • Andy Monat
  • Andrew Collier
  • Ari Ofsevit
Michael Kvrivishvili

##The problem Ride-sharing services, like Uber and Lyft are those services in which passengers ride in a private vehicle driven by the owner, for a fee or for free. The widespread adoption of ride-sharing services drastically changes how people get from place to place and as a result creates new policy challenges. Ride-sharing and transportation policy is made doubly difficult because private enterprises who own ride-sharing services inherently evade regulation. The extent to which ride-sharing enterprises are obligated to share their data for the scrutiny and well-being of the public sphere is doubtful. Additionally, there is increased need to provide environmentally friendly, and economically efficient transportation services on the part of governments, as they have historically regulated transportation for safety and environmental reasons. As technologies evolve and redefine services that were once primarily within government purview there will need to be data that can triangulated in order to make sound policy decisions. Thus, there is greater necessity for governments and society at large to creatively use data to assess the impact of transportation services both old and new in ways impossible during the pre-digital and pre-mobile era.

##The Solution While getting data from private enterprises, will be difficult for the foreseeable future, mobile and public transit data can shed light on transportation services, public and private alike.

Increasingly state and municipal governments are releasing data that show with granularity how transportations services are affecting our everyday lives. Open datasets that tell us the why, when, what, where of how people use public and private transport can make for more informed policy debates and decisions.

Data scientists Andy Monat, Andrew Collier, and Ari Ofsevit used datasets from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to examine the cost and impact of the late night T service in order to compare it to alternatives such as the (now defunct) Night Owl Bus Service or cab rides. The study found that the cost per ride of using the metro late at night was not only significantly cheaper than cab fare, but that also late night metro rides increased the overall demand and use of public transit. In short, the implementation of late night public transit, not only is economically more efficient for citizens, but also encouraged greater overall use of public transit.

Credit: MBTA

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