Translating Data Generated by the Transit App into Insights on Transportation Use in Greater Boston

In 2016, the MBTA undertook a partnership with the makers of the smart phone app Transit. The MBTA endorsed Transit as its preferred app for riders to identify routes and schedules, updated in real time. As part of the agreement, Transit provides the MBTA with the data generated by users, including user locations, trip searches (including origin and destination), the use of alerts for departure times, and “favorite” routes. These data are very rich and hold much information about how constituents make use of the public transit system, going far beyond the information provided by Charlie cards, but little has been done with them to date, in large part because of their size and complexity. The objectives of the work will be to develop a deeper understanding of the content and potential of the Transit data, leading to methodologies that can process for use in both research and day-to-day policy and practice. The products will include: 1) a thoroughly-documented set of steps for processing Transit data that can be implemented both on historical data and, moving forward, on new data coming in; 2) a thoroughly-documented process for matching it with other data sources describing the places, events, and conditions of greater Boston; and 3) demonstrations of the substantive value of the Transit data through a series of initial studies that address questions of mobility, public transit experiences, and resiliency in the Boston area. A full understanding of customers' journeys can lead to improved bus networks, improved real time information provision, and a more holistic planning process.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $300000
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    Massachusetts Division
    55 Broadway, 10th Floor
    Cambridge, Massachusetts  United States  02142
  • Managing Organizations:

    Massachusetts Department of Transportation

    10 Park Plaza
    Boston, MA  United States  02116
  • Project Managers:

    Sperling, Elliot

  • Performing Organizations:

    Northeastern University

    Division of Research Management
    360 Huntington Avenue
    Boston, MA  United States  02115
  • Principal Investigators:

    O'Brien , Daniel

    Wang, Ryan

    Benedictis-Kessner, Justin de

  • Start Date: 20181121
  • Expected Completion Date: 20200930
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: Research and Development

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01688450
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Massachusetts Department of Transportation
  • Contract Numbers: 105962
  • Files: RIP, STATEDOT
  • Created Date: Dec 14 2018 9:37AM