A new approach to improving urban mobility
Moovit’s University Program began two years ago as part of a comprehensive strategy to expand into new regions and grow the Mooviter Community. Many cities do not have digital information about their public transportation network. In order to help some of these cities, Moovit got creative.
Transforming challenges into opportunities
Anette Mitrani, a Moovit Operations Manager since 2014, wanted to find a way to improve mobility in her home country of Mexico. Much of Mexico’s transportation system is not controlled by official transportation agencies, but instead by independent bus owners who request permission from the government to operate in urban and rural areas. Many buses do not run on a schedule that can be found online, or have defined bus stops. To access this localized data, and make it available on Moovit for other users, Moovit empowers community members who will benefit most from its addition. Universities in Mexico became the focus of Anette’s work. She developed a program that teaches students to map transportation systems in the Moovit Editor, Moovit’s proprietary tool for Mooviters to map their cities, and integrated it into university courses. Anette manages the programs remotely, while receiving educational and logistical support from the universities .
Recognizing the potential value, universities have welcomed Moovit’s curriculum into their own. The first program was in Puebla, México in 2015, and it has expanded to other universities within Mexico, and to other countries, including Greece.
Developing a successful program
The first course in Mexico in 2017 was “Seminario de Tópicos de Ingeniería en Transporte” (Seminar of Engineering Topics in Transportation,) at the University UPIICSA (IPN). The second was “Modelos de Reemplazo y Mantenimiento” (Replacement and Maintenance Models.) Approximately 60 students participated in the two. Students often physically traveled the routes to acquire the most accurate information–a clear sign of commitment to the mission.
Each program had unique elements. For example, the development of the Mobile Mapping feature for the Editor significantly improved the students’ ability to map routes on-the-go. This increased the accuracy and ease of mapping.
Through the program, students have mapped over 550 new trips in the Editor in 2017 alone. This highly-specified data exists nowhere else, not even with the government. Estimations show that 20 million people in the Metropolitan Zone of the Valley of Mexico (ZMVM,) including tourists, can expect to benefit from this collaboration.
Community growth and engagement are other indicators of a successful program. Some graduates have continued on to help improve the quality of official data for local transit agencies.
Beyond the quantifiable, there are intangible byproducts that are crucial to ensuring that the program has an effect that outlives its duration: encouraging civic engagement, instilling a sense of community pride, and developing a consciousness of urban sustainability. As one department member put it, “what you have experienced is what it means to be a citizen of the world…The issue of mobility is involved with quality of life, is linked to civil rights and also with environmental and sustainability issues. What you have done is a ‘glocal’ exercise, undertaken locally to have an international impact,”( Silvia Figueroa, Department Head at Tecnológico de Monterrey, Guadalajara Campus.)
Plans for the future
These first programs provide a model that can be replicated in other countries. Anette and the Moovit team plan to expand these programs into other countries where access to transit data presents similar challenges. In addition, she hopes to develop the quality of the data collected. The university program demonstrates Moovit’s commitment to improve mobility beyond the scope of any other transit application.