Transit Tech

“Mobility Lab’s Transit Tech Initiative explores new technology developments allowing the public to better navigate transit. The initiative includes both in-house developments through our Fellowship Program and collaborative developments through programs like our Transit Hack Days and Transportation Camp DC.

All code created by the initiative is open source and can be found at:

Join us.  Let’s share ideas.  Together we can build better solutions.

Public Input = Public Transportation!”

Idea for Smarter Transit Fares Wins George Mason Competition

Transit would be better served if the pay-per-ride and unlimited fare schemes that currently dominate were expanded to include more fine-tuned pricing structures similar to those offered by cell phone companies. That was the idea that won the recent second annual Outside the Box transportation conference and competition at George Mason University’s (GMU’s) School of Public Policy. Winner […]

Hitchhiking Goes High Tech: The Story Behind CarmaHop’s Upcoming Launch

In 2010, my husband and I moved out to rural Northeast Kansas in order to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Our dream had one major flaw – a complete lack of public transportation. So these two save-the-planet sustainability groupies became just two more single-occupant vehicle drivers with big ugly carbon footprints. And we’re not alone. Forty-five […]

U.S. Government Should Improve Its Trip Data

This article was originally published by the Alliance for Biking & Walking. There are two major surveys that are a tremendous help to bicycle and pedestrian advocates in better understanding the progress for our cause. They are great, yet they still could be much improved. The American Community Survey (ACS), which is performed every year […]

5 Ways DC’s Metro Beats NY’s Subway

New York City’s Subway system, run by the city’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), is the largest rapid transit system in the United States. With service 24 hours per day and an extensive network of 421 stations, virtually all of Manhattan and most of the outer boroughs are within a quick walk of the system – which, despite its name, […]

What Does Behavioral Science Have to Do With Transportation?

Arlingtonian Ben Foster dropped by Mobility Lab this week and shared his perspective with a few dozen transportation experts on how behavioral science can help us better understand how we make decisions and how different types of information can affect the ways in which we might change our routines. And as part of my company […]

Take a Bikeshare Ride This Fourth of July, Let Freedom Ring

(This article was originally published by Pop Culture Lunch Box.) I took a bikeshare ride in Boston on Sunday and, with Americans feeling less free these days, it makes me sad to know that one solution that is so obvious and simple is sitting right in front of our eyes. The one thing that struck me […]

Why Buy a Car When You’ve Got Mobile Apps?

(This article was originally published at Architect This City.) One of the things that many city planners, transportation experts, and municipalities are trying to figure out is how to successfully shift people away from driving towards alternative modes of transportation, such as biking and transit. Now, this is no easy task. There are a myriad […]

Gamification, Technology, and Improving Transit Rider Satisfaction

What’s the current state of the rider experience? Are transportation systems meeting the demands and expectations of the general public? These questions were posed to a panel of speakers at a plenary session of the Mobility Lab-sponsored Innovation in Public Policy Summit. Technology – in particular the power of information – was shown to be a […]

Carma Takes Swipe at Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, But Do They Care?

The first day of the two-day Innovation in Mobility Public Policy Summit in Washington D.C. was “bike heavy,” according to one participant. With the conversation clearly revolving around bikesharing systems, participants and speakers had to dance around the subject on many people’s minds: Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar – the transportation network companies (TNCs) everyone either loves or […]

Bikesharing, Carsharing Lead the Way on Local Transportation Sharing-Economy Initiatives

Congressman Earl Blumenauer began the two-day Innovation in Mobility Public Policy Summit in Washington D.C. calling for multimodal transportation systems. The Oregon Democrat described how transit, walking, and cycling are all necessary in order to “coax more capacity” out of our current transportation systems. And it seems, by the focus of speakers on a panel called “How […]

“Rock-Star Panel” Illuminates Future of Transportation Sharing Economy

Last year, 270 transportation experts attended the first-ever Innovation in Mobility Public Policy Summit in San Francisco, and Susan Shaheen was one of the key visionaries of that event. Shaheen’s idea was to “bring the silos of shared use together,” with the philosophy that the sum of all the carpool and ridesharing companies, government transportation […]

Podcars On Frontier of Enhancing Transit-Oriented Development

With decades of use at airports, hospitals, casinos and leisure districts, automated people movers (APMs) offer a way to extend the reach of a transit station’s zone of influence beyond the walkable quarter-mile radius traditionally assumed by planners and real-estate agents. Nearly 200 APMs are in operation around the world. However, a more interesting new […]

Transportation Techies Show What Can Be Done With Bike Data

How can you use data to explore biking? The Transportation Techies Meetup group recently examined the possibilities. Five presentations at our first Bike Hack Night showed the range of what can be done with bike data. Ironman Tim Kelley (also a Mobility Lab contributor) showed us how he uses Strava to visualize his bike trips. You’ve probably seen […]

What Are Cities Trying to Tell People?

“Does a city speak?” This provocative question – posed by Saskia Sassen (pictured) – opened the recent Mobilities in Cities: From Visible to Invisible conference at Columbia University. It’s hard to deny that a city has life, but does it live and communicate? Sassen has explored these ideas before: the juxtaposition of technology – ephemeral, […]

Swedish Embassy, Mobility Lab Partner on Smart Living Challenge

Are you interested in developing new ideas for smart urban transport? The Embassy of Sweden/Swedish Agency for Growth Policy Analysis in Washington D.C., in cooperation with Mobility Lab and other partners, will host a creative workshop for sustainable city solutions. During four hours in the morning of May 21 we will share ideas and help […]

Modeling Bikesharing in Aspen, Colorado

Bikesharing has its roots in big cities like Paris, London, and Montreal, but the real sign of success is when it takes hold in smaller towns. Aspen, Colorado is the first mountain town to offer bikesharing, with We-Cycle. Last summer, it opened with 13 stations. Coloradans have already seen bikesharing in Denver and Boulder. To […]

Redefining Uber: Why the Term Rideshare Doesn’t Fit

Uber and its ilk are cool and disruptive technologies, and our position at Mobility Lab is that additional transportation choices are always a good thing for consumers. But Uber’s habit of calling itself a “rideshare company” is getting out of hand. Neither Uber, Sidecar, nor Lyft fit any of the criteria of a rideshare, yet […]

The Technology Behind a New Kind of Travel Planning

The Arlington Transit Tech Initiative provides an exciting opportunity to rethink individual commute options and travel planning in general. Most existing travel-planning applications are well-suited for providing detailed, step-by-step directions for a particular trip at a particular time – for instance, how to travel from your home to your office on transit, leaving at 8:30 […]

Arlington County Building High-Tech Commute-Planning Software

Does the world need another commute planning app? It may surprise you to know that we think the answer is a resounding “yes.” The Arlington Transit Tech Initiative is creating commute-planning software to provide personalized information for travelers making trips throughout the Washington D.C. region. We’re developing this as an open-source project, with the code […]

Apple Transportation Program Stuck in Past

(This article was originally published by METRO Magazine.) As an avid iPhone user, I have bought into the sense that Apple could literally peer into the future and deliver me technology that I never realized I would so desperately need. For years, Steve Jobs and company seem to have been our reliable guides to a […]

80 Percent of New York’s 150 Million Taxi Trips Could Be Shared

I’ve been a big fan of MIT’s Senseable City Lab since I was a grad student at Penn. Their work sits at the intersection of cities and technology, and so I’ve always found it incredibly fascinating. Recently, the Lab examined data from all of New York’s 13,586 registered cabs and looked for ways that technology and mobile […]

SXSW’s Top 5 Transportation Trends

Building on the car and ride sharing startups of 2013, smart transportation was a strong category at SXSW Interactive 2014 this month in Austin, Texas. The five trends worth watching for 2014 and beyond are big data, the sharing economy, smarter apps, smarter systems, and driverless cars. 1.     Big Data Big data continues to be the […]

Six Tips for Cheap Amtrak Tickets

[Editor's note: This article was originally published at Amtrak's great blog. Go there for the full article. And if you've got the time to travel in leisure, comfort, and ease, Amtrak's offerings are quite a bit more affordable for cross-country travel throughout the U.S. than airline travel.] 1. Join Amtrak Guest Rewards Every time you […]

Which Metro Line Best Connects You to Shops and Restaurants?

Metro serves an important role for people who are car-free. And in fact, those 106 miles of track make it possible for many people to be car-free in the first place. But Metro is only one half of the equation; you still need the places you visit to be physically close to the Metro station. […]

What If We Sold Transit Fares Like Cell-Phone Minutes?

How many cell-phone minutes do you pay for in a month? Or gigabytes of data? Are you on a family plan? Do you get a group discount from work? What does this even have to do with transit? If we think of a transit trip like we do a cell-phone minute (or megabyte) we start […]

An Open Data Standard Would Help Public Discover Bikesharing

Should the bikeshare industry adopt an open data standard? As bikesharing spreads to more cities, having a common method for accessing and analyzing data will become more important. We know that transit systems work best when agencies concentrate on their core mission. Transit agencies are not in the information technology business; all they should do […]

New Transportation Options on Table at Upcoming Innovation in Mobility Summit

I attended the Shared-Use Mobility Summit in San Francisco last year and came away from it with a strong sense that the conversations happening there should continue. At the time, no one knew that this inaugural event would spur such interest. Hundreds of people would be turned away due to the overwhelming response. The next […]

TransitScreen Wins Transportation Research Board “Six Minute Pitch” Contest

My TransitScreen cofounder Matt Caywood (a Mobility Lab contributor) and I recently had the honor – along with three other transportation startups – of presenting our “Six Minute Pitch” at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) 93rd Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. on January 14. We won, and the biggest benefit is that we received recognition at an event with nearly […]

Techies Work to Merge Data From Multiple Transit Agencies

We’ve all used apps for planning trips using transit, but have you ever thought about what it takes to write one of these apps? The Transportation Techies Meetup group recently invited coders to share their stories about creating programs that consume data from multiple transit agencies and blend the results together. Because transit agencies tend to […]

Keeping Governments Relevant as the Sharing Economy Grows

Shared-use mobility is a hot topic these days. Mobility Lab is partnering with the Association for Commuter Transportation and TransitCenter on an event June 10-11 in Washington D.C. called Innovation in Mobility Public Policy Summit. And Mobility Lab Director Tom Fairchild was a panelist recently at The Brookings Institution for Mobility Innovations in the Sharing Economy sponsored by the Japan […]

Video: What Happened at TransportationCamp DC 2014

Watch the video above to find out what people said about TransportationCamp D.C. 2014. And here are some more money quotes. “Tremendous creativity.” – Dennis Leach, Arlington County (Va.) Department of Environmental Services “People … being very candid.” “Immediacy.” – Frank Hebbert, OpenPlans “There are so many good ideas.” – Arnd Batzner, Mobility Car Sharing […]

Bringing Active Transportation, Health, Open Data, and Techies Together in One Place

At the Center for Total Health (@KPTotalHealth), we are huge fans of technology, when it is used to improve community conditions to produce health. That’s why we’re a special guest – or I should say, the DC/MD/VA Transportation Techies is a special guest – at the Center for Total Health, on March 6 (RSVP here). Reason #1 […]

Fly In for a Bird’s-Eye View of Capital Bikeshare

The best views of Washington are undoubtedly from above, on flights to and from National Airport. When I saw the aerial photo taken by Dan Macy, I knew I had to use it as the background for a map. Visit the Birds-eye view of CaBi stations app and see if you enjoy the view as […]

Examining Mobility Innovations in the Sharing Economy

In an event at The Brookings Institution Wednesday hosted by the Japan International Transport Institute, Mobility Lab Director Tom Fairchild sat on an engaging panel about ridesharing, the sharing economy, and how the future of transportation needs to be shaped by both private and public enterprises. Also on the panel, entitled “Mobility Innovations in the […]

A Conversation at TransportationCamp DC: Shin-pei Tsay

TransportationCamp is growing each year and increasingly being viewed as a can’t-miss event for transportation professionals. That said, there are still people that Shin-pei Tsay of New York-based TransitCenter says “we still need to bring to the table.” “I think there’s a lot of opportunity if you can turn the industry on its head and […]

A Conversation at TransportationCamp DC: Joung Lee

In his day-to-day work as Deputy Director of Management & Program Finance at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), Joung Lee is focused upon the: ” … crisis with the Highway Trust Fund, which is projected to run about $15 billion short every single year for at least the coming decade. And […]

Want to Step Outside and Get Moving? Check Out Car-Free Near Me

Looking for nearby information about transportation systems serving any location in Arlington, Virginia or Washington D.C.? Car-Free Near Me(TM) is a new web app developed by Arlington County Commuter Services, a bureau of Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services. The app has some usefulness throughout the region but not all local transportation systems are included. Those that […]

The Future of Transportation: Key Insights From TransportationCamp DC 2014

What are the most cutting-edge transportation experts around the U.S. excited about? Find their answers in this video – the first of several we’ll be releasing – from this month’s TransportationCamp DC 2014 at George Mason University’s Arlington, Virginia campus. As Chris Hamilton of Arlington County Commuter Services says, “We’ve got the best minds in […]

Explore the Links Between Weather and Capital Bikeshare Ridership

In Washington D.C., we’re lucky to get a new chunk of Capital Bikeshare trip history data every quarter. For the end of the year, I created a new tool for examining the data from 2013. How does the weather affect ridership? How similar are CaBi ridership patterns to regular cyclists in the area? How similar […]

“Hot Zone” Commuters Taking Bikeshare to Use Metro

In Capital Bikeshare’s 2013 customer survey, the local government regional partnership that created the service asked who made trips to and from Metro. It turns out that 54 percent of our customers do. So how far do Capital Bikeshare customers ride to get to and from Metro and their home? Well, we had some interesting […]

Ten Things I Learned at TransportationCamp

TransportationCamp DC ‘14, organized by Mobility Lab, Open Plans, Conveyal, Young Professionals in Transportation, the Transportation Research Board, and the George Mason University School of Public Policy, took place Saturday. With more than 400 registered attendees (totally sold out), the third-annual conference in D.C. (it happens in other places like Atlanta and San Francisco as well) contained more information than one […]

Techies Tackle WMATA Data at Metro Hack Night

You can’t talk about transit in the D.C. region without talking about WMATA. The new Transportation Techies group dedicated our latest meetup to sharing projects that explore data from and about Metrorail and Metrobus. Here’s what we learned at Metro Hack Night. Before getting started, we settled in with a game of Metro Hangman, in which […]

From mHealth to Sustainable Mobility: DC Transportation Techies Meetup

My colleague Connie Chen, MD (@ConnieEChen) recently asked me while walking in Washington, DC, what kinds of conferences I go to these days, if not mhealth ones. I replied, “mobile health, but not as in cell phones, as in transportation.” Last evening I attended a new meetup in the metropolitan Washington, DC area, “Transportation Techies” […]

Top 10 Mobility Lab Stories of 2013

We go in a lot of directions at Mobility Lab. But – in a world with a booming population, ever-dirtier air from traffic pollution, and idealists who simply want to spend their time any other way but in traffic jams – we always bring it back to the concept of “moving people – not cars.” Within that […]

Smart Cities Put People First, and People Want Technology

The Brookings Institution held a forum this week for urban planners, techies, and politicians on a topic that’s gained traction in recent years: “smart cities.” Cohosted by Barcelona’s ESADE Business School, Getting Smarter About Smart Cities included panelists from Barcelona, Amsterdam, Edmonton, and Arlington. A smart city is a term coined by IBM to describe […]

“Be There:” Mobility Lab Director’s Advice on TransportationCamp

This interview with Mobility Lab Director Tom Fairchild was originally published at the TransportationCamp blog. As TransportationCamp DC approaches, we’re reaching out to leaders and thinkers in the transportation and technology field, and asking them about what is interesting and important in the field right now. Today Ellen McDermott spoke with Tom Fairchild, Director of […]

Capital Bikeshare Hackers Pedal Their Wares at Mobility Lab

The Washington region has a new home for programmers who love playing with transportation data. The Transportation Techies meetup group welcomes technologists and the “code curious” to our meetings, which will mostly be show & tell demos of cool apps and visualizations. Our debut meetup explored cool programs built around Capital Bikeshare’s open data. The […]

Steps Needed for Integrating D.C. Patchwork of Transit Information and Technology

What’s next in the Washington D.C. region for OneBusAway — an open-source platform that consolidates transit data from multiple transit agencies? For starters, Mobility Lab will continue to work with transit agencies to improve the quality and quantity of open transit data in the region. For example, the WMATA API that we use to feed […]

This Video Tells You Why You Should Attend TransportationCamp

Chris Hamilton, bureau chief of Arlington County Commuter Services, says TransportationCamp is “so exciting because it’s this convergence of urbanists, people interested in transportation, and people who do technology for a living all coming together to make cities more livable by providing new tools for people to get around.” OpenPlan’s Frank Hebbert, the event’s moderator, […]

Calling All Nerds! Our Transportation Techies Group is Launching

Calling all nerds! Are you a programmer who loves open data, data visualizations, and mapping? Can you use your skills to help people find healthy, efficient, and sustainable transportation options? Mobility Lab has launched a Meetup group to nurture innovations in transportation. The Transportation Techies group is building a community of technology experts who love […]

The Search for the Perfect, Magical Transportation App

I’m constantly on the look-out for the perfect, magical app that will help me get from place to place. Biking to work from Maryland to Virginia, as I do almost every day, I used to utilize, which helped me find the least-painful routes up the monster hills out of Takoma Park . But now […]

How OneBusAway Aims to Improve All Transit Apps

How can we help people navigate the dozens of transit agencies that serve the Washington region? Riders aren’t always aware of their options, and for app developers, getting data from multiple agencies is a challenge. One solution is OneBusAway, an open-source platform that consolidates transit data from multiple transit agencies. Mobility Lab invites interested people to join us this Saturday […]

Lunch At the Lab Offers View into Our Jetsons-like Transportation Future

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OneBusAway Demo App Offers Best Transit Info Yet for DC Users

I recently wrote here about our plans for regional transit data integration for the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan area. Today, Mobility Lab’s able to share some of our initial progress with you. There are still many details to be worked out and hurdles to overcome, but we have set up a demonstration instance of OneBusAway (take a […]

Without Open Data, It’s Like Transit Agencies “Don’t Exist”

At Mobility Lab’s event with Ray LaHood yesterday, the former U.S. Transportation Secretary said that transit agencies “should be required” to open their data to developers. For some agencies, this could be a major undertaking. But for agencies participating in Google Transit, it’s easy. They are already preparing their route and schedule information in the industry-standard GTFS format. You […]

Mobility Lab’s Ray LaHood Event Set to Inspire Transportation Options for Americans

Bicycle advocates love Ray LaHood. And no wonder. The former Republican Congressman from Illinois and Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation doesn’t do quiet, uninspiring speeches. He’s been to five straight League of American Bicyclists’ National Bike Summits and, in 2010, he was “made famous” by jumping onto a table (see the video above) to […]

Transportation Tech Bubble Makes D.C. “Ripe for Disruption”

The word “innovative” isn’t usually used in the same sentence as Washington D.C., but that adjective is surprisingly apt today. The nation’s capital has flown under the radar to become one of the leaders in transportation innovation. Recently launched services such as Uber, Hailo, Capital Bikeshare, Hitch, and RidePost are changing the way Washingtonians get […]

D.C. Options Highlighted at “Transportation in the City”

At Wednesday night’s exciting Smart Growth America event at 1776, Mobility Lab Director Tom Fairchild joined a distinguished panel to discuss how the Washington D.C. is getting easier and easier to navigate with a host of options that don’t have to include drive-alone car trips.

New Map Tool Shows Range of Capital Bikeshare Trips

A new map – called the CaBi Range – should interest users of the Washington D.C. bikeshare system, Capital Bikeshare. The map shows all the stations you can bike to in 30 minutes or less, highlighting those stations in green, as well as the routes you would take to get there. Stations beyond the time […]

Transit Agencies Must Improve Service Through Technology

Transit in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. metropolitan area is complex. More than a dozen agencies serve the region, with overlapping service areas, conflicting stop numbering schemes, and uncoordinated schedules. For transit riders, it can be difficult to piece together intermodal journeys across the region because the information simply isn’t readily available. You can board an OmniLink bus in […]

Are Humans Still Needed In a World of Smartphone Apps?

Recently I had my first Apple Store app scan-and-pay experience. Apparently it is now possible to walk into an Apple store, find the product you want, scan the barcode with your iPhone and Apple Store app, charge the item to your iTunes account, and walk out with your receipt being emailed to you – all […]

Use Only What You Need – The Lesson of Apple Maps, Detroit, and 27-Year-Olds

There were two huge announcements in the news a few days ago that I think are more connected than they seem at first glance: Apple Maps announced that it was buying Hopstop and Detroit filed for bankruptcy. They are connected because of what both announcements represent – we are moving more quickly than ever from a car-centric […]

Market Mapper Shows Farmers Markets Near You

Want a fun way to combine exercise and healthy eating? The Market Mapper application helps you find nearby farmers markets, and makes it easy to get biking directions. I created the program after discovering the U.S. Department of Agriculture had released an API that lets anyone browse its database of the thousands of farmers markets […]

Pop-Up Buses, Cell-Phone Data are Big Winners at Transit Tech Competition

One might expect the future of transportation to involve teleportation machines, but, at the recent “Outside the Box” competition, presenters were less “Back to the Future”-style flying skateboards than real-world innovations that could be actually implemented to solve transportation problems. The George Mason School of Public Policy hosted the event for students and young professionals […]

San Francisco Works to Calculate the Market Price of Parking

Parking is far from glamorous, as public issues go. It is the kind of service that is rarely appreciated when it works, only garnering attention when it fails to live up to expectations. But several cities across the United States – including Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle – have begun to understand […]

Connecting Data to Our Health Receives Boost at Recent Code-a-Thon

Mobility Lab’s Director Tom Fairchild served as a guest judge in Kaiser Permanente’s recent Code-a-Thon, a competition in which software developers from across the country traveled to the company’s state-of-the-art Center for Total Health in Washington D.C. The developers worked on different apps envisioned under Kaiser Permanente’s just-launched application programming interface (API) program called Interchange℠. […]

Active Transportation Information Needed at Event-Planning Websites

I was recently organizing an event in downtown Austin, Texas. The event space was partially chosen because it offered ease of access, with many public-transportation options. I built the event page where guests would register online. But soon after the event was posted to this event-planning web service, I received a message to add the […]

Comparing Driving to Transit in the Next Version of Google Maps

Google is beginning to unveil its new version of Google Maps. The functionality for directions will let you quickly compare driving a car to taking transit. I tried it out by asking for directions in Washington D.C. from Nationals Park to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. It defaulted to showing the best route for driving […]

Mobility Lab Express #15

Mobility Lab Express #15 – June 1, 2013 (PDF) We recently exhibited our Capital Bikeshare Crowdsourcing Map at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Data Palooza event in Washington D.C. Real-time data was a common thread in discussions at the event, and USDOT’s willingness to be creative and collaborate with the private sector and challenge traditional ways of thinking bodes […]

New Capital Bikeshare Studies Generate Social-Media Buzz

Capital Bikeshare Releases Two New Survey Reports: Surveys Provide Detailed Data on Bikeshare Usage and Regional Impact. Here are the original Tweets from this morning’s presentation and press conference.

Data Palooza Helps USDOT Plan for Our Transportation Future

Imagine the following scenario: Your daily commute in Washington D.C. requires taking metro’s green line to Gallery Place, then transferring onto a metrobus to your final destination. Unfortunately, the Washington Capitals hockey team is playing at Gallery Place’s Verizon Center. The game has just completed, and the street is teaming with Caps fans. Traffic is […]

Transportation and Health: A Tour of the Future

In the world of “total health,” transportation and food are part of the health system. These industries combined make up a large chunk of the workforce and produce a large chunk of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. (The GHG numbers need to be interpreted with great care because there’s probably overlap between the industries. If you […]

The Fine Line Between Ridesharing and Taxi Cabs

This morning, Facebook, ever knowledgeable about users interests and preferences, recommended an app to me called SideCar. Clicking the SideCar link resulted in an application page soliciting users to join its fleet of drivers with the pitch, “You drive every day. Why not get paid for it?” SideCar is a smartphone-enabled, instant-match ridesharing service, and […]

Ideas Aplenty Flow as a Result of Latest Hack Day

Local technologists shared ideas and worked together at Mobility Lab’s recent Data Visualization Hack Day. It’s great to take an online community and bring folks together. One of the participants, Ted Eytan, has already shared his experience of how he learned about new available data sets – see Walking on Mondays Looks Like a Healthy, Smart Business […]

Technologies at SXSW Evolving How We Get Around

With sessions like “Making Accessible Transportation Modern and Cool,” “Sexy, Safe & Smart Highways,” and “Transportation Apps & the Sharing Economy,” transportation was re-imagined in new and exciting ways at this year’s South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas. Many of these ideas were discussed at local meetups like “Hacking Transportation” and “Bike Culture.” […]

Walking on Mondays Looks Like a Healthy, Smart Business Strategy

I learned so many things at this past weekend’s Mobility Hack Day, which was held at Mobility Lab, a unique organization in our region and nation. “Mobility” refers to transportation, rather than “mobile technology,” although the two are commingled in this world. I have been following all of the amazing analysis and visualizations of Capital Bikeshare, the […]

Maps in Motion: Telling Stories from Transit Data

Mobility Lab’s Data Visualization Hack Day (tomorrow, Saturday, March 23) will bring together programmers with agency representatives and community stakeholders. Our goal is to share both the data we have about regional mobility systems and the tools we use to visualize them. There’s something about visual information that manages to engage people and fire the imagination. As […]

Top Commuter Trends at SXSW Interactive 2013

The South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive 2013 Conference in Austin, Texas took a turn this year away from being the startup launching pad to something more substantial. It became a marketing festival – a place for the estimated 27,000 young, affluent, digital decision makers to connect with one another offline and to preview the art of our […]

Heavy Use of Montreal Bixi Bikesharing System Displayed with New Open-Data Map

The public now has access to bikesharing data from a new city. Bixi Montreal has released a chunk of data from a day of bikesharing, which I’ve incorporated into my Trip Visualizer. Montreal’s bikesharing system is the largest in North America, with 410 stations. Among the other systems I’ve studied – Washington D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare, […]

Technology Will Fuel Transportation Needs of the Future

TransportationCamp DC is all about providing technology tools to people so they can make the critical choices of getting from Point A to Point B and beyond. The convergence this year of hundreds of urbanists, transportation aficionados, and people who work with technology for a living all joined together on the Saturday last month before the […]

Keeping Transportation Personal in a Digital Age

Do you remember telephone operators? Have you ever heard of telephone operators, or switchboard operators? If the only thing that comes to mind are black and white photos of Victorian women seated in rows in front of large panels of cords, then you are correct. Telephone operators, once tasked with connecting phone lines before the […]

Boston and Minneapolis-Saint Paul Maps Show Bikeshare’s Transportation Impact

After building the CaBi Trip Visualizer for the Capital Bikeshare system in Washington D.C. and Virginia, I looked for other cities I could do similar analyses with. I found two other systems that posted the open data that would allow me to create maps showing where their riders are coming and going. I got the […]

On-Time Arrival App Wins Contest, and You Will Never Miss Another Flight

The creators of a nifty, high-tech airport-arrival app in development won this year’s first-ever “Six-Minute Pitch” competition at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) 92nd Annual Meeting. I recently had the opportunity, while they were basking in their victorious glory, to ask co-developers Robert Rodden and Susan Paulus a few questions. Tell me about your app. It’s called […]

Neighborhood Clusters Added to Updated Capital Bikeshare Trip Visualizer

Capital Bikeshare’s trip history data for the 4th quarter of 2012 has been posted, and with it I’ve made a new version of the CaBi Trip Visualizer. (See last quarter’s version at A Closer Look at Bikeshare Data.) For this version, I’ve strengthened the features that let you examine clusters of stations. When you select […]

Transit Riders Need to Demand Better Real-Time Departure Information

Kurt Raschke, a frequent collaborator on Mobility Lab technology programs, and Chris Barnes of (on the right) were leaving a session at TransportationCamp DC on how to improve real-time transit information when Mobility Lab TV‘s cameras caught up with them. Kurt was concerned about transit agencies losing faithful customers when their real-time bus and train […]

Side-by-Side Router Compares Driving, Walking, Biking, and Transit

Online mapping applications have become an essential tool for route planning. The route planner from Google Maps originally assumed everyone wanted driving directions for cars, but has grown to include options for biking, walking, and transit. Availability depends on the location, but I’ve been impressed with Google Maps’ coverage. Using Google’s “application programming interface” (API), I […]

Mobility Lab Express #6

Mobility Lab Express #6 – January 15, 2013 (PDF) This issue features the 2nd Annual TransportationCamp DC, held this past Saturday. With just about every one of the 300-plus people in attendance agreeing that the event was phenomenal, there is little reason to cover much else this issue.

Disney Trains, Google Transit, Flying Cars, and Metro Pac-Man at TransportationCamp

Hundreds of “transit nerds” shared ideas last weekend, as TransportationCamp made a welcome return to the Washington D.C. region. I rode my bike from D.C. to Arlington on this foggy January morning to participate in the unconference. Last year’s event introduced me to the concept of an “unconference,” and this one followed the same format. Attendees themselves generate […]

Mixing and Mingling With Like-Minded Geeks

I attended my first “unconference” last January at Transportation Camp, which came for the first time to Washington D.C. The conference was for anyone interested in urban transportation and technology. The “unconference” aspect meant that the attendees themselves created the presentations. Anyone interested in leading a session wrote their proposal on a large fluorescent sticky note. […]

What Goes On at TransportationCamp: The Videos

A taste of last year’s TransportationCamp Washington DC. Be sure and check out all the details about this year’s event here. First up, Lilly Shoup from the U.S. Department of Transportation organized a session called Transportation Policy 101, which consisted mostly of the very “unconference” format of chatting with like-minded people without the formalities of […]

Transit Tech Ready for Center Stage at TransportationCamp DC This Saturday

Commuters in Washington D.C., Virginia, and Maryland are lucky to have so many options to get around the area. But it doesn’t happen without hard work behind the scenes. That’s where events like this Saturday’s 2nd Annual TransportationCamp Washington DC 2013 step in. There will be hundreds of really smart people joining together to generate […]

A Closer Look at Bikeshare Data

Every quarter, a new set of data gets added to Capital Bikeshare’s repository of trip-history data. And as the Washington D.C. region’s bikesharing system grows more popular, the data sets grow in size (from 15 megabytes and 117,972 trips in the 4th quarter of 2010 to 68 megabytes and 637,531 trips in the 3rd quarter […]

Just a Day In the Life of Metro

Are you like me and usually find yourself randomly pondering life, like why clouds end up resembling animals, how much wood could a woodchuck chuck or where do the roughly 1.2 million people who ride Metrorail and bus everyday go? Well, luckily for us pondering daydreamers and number crunchers alike, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority records […]

Virginia’s Transportation Officials Bring Intelligent Tech Ideas to Mobility Lab

“The success of tomorrow’s transportation system depends heavily on our ability to harness new technology today,” said Jeffrey Spencer, Intelligent Transportation Program Leader from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). He spoke at Mobility Lab as part of Tuesday’s Tech Session for the Intelligent Transportation Society of Virginia (ITSVA). Spencer added that, around the U.S., transit […]

Mobility Lab Express #3

Mobility Lab Express #3 – December 1, 2012 (PDF) Highlighting some of the great stories from Hack Day, this month’s Mobility Lab Express is focused on key connections between transportation options and technological choice.

Hack Day Resulting in Transit-Screen Excitement

Local transit lovers created their own transit screens at Mobility Lab’s Hack Day this past Saturday. You might have noticed these screens if you’ve been to Java Shack in Arlington or the Red Palace bar in D.C. The real-time displays show custom web pages on Mobility Lab’s website. In order to encourage more places to […]

“Transit Nerd” Presents Award-Winning DC Trip-Planner Tech at Hack Day

I’ve always been a huge transit nerd – partly evidenced by going to the Transit Tech Hack Day in 2011, and trudging to the TransportationCamp unconference in the snow last winter. I’ve also been a software developer in a wide number of programming languages and frameworks for the past six years. And I’ve developed a […]

Commuters Use Online Carpooling to Comply With Post-Sandy Road Rules – Mashable

It’s unfortunate that it takes a disaster the scale of Superstorm Sandy to get people to consider ridesharing. It’s also unfortunate that when they need to get somewhere after a tragedy, they don’t have quick options at their fingertips. An article in Mashable details how drivers needing to get into Manhattan are now scrambling to find […]

Create Your Own Personal Transit Screen at Hack Day

Earlier this year, Eric Fidler created an open source transit information screen that shows real-time Metro and bus arrivals, and bike availability at Capital Bikeshare stations. Now, you can make your own. Recently, I designed my own screen using the code Eric created, and mounted a tablet computer on the wall of my apartment to […]

Take Me Out to the Ballgame … On Bikeshare

The Washington Nationals October playoff run sure was exciting. Almost as exciting was the volume of bike activity around Nationals Stadium. Clearly, lots of Nats fans are realizing that getting to and from the game by bike is the way to go! The bike parking at the stadium was full, every rack and lamppost in […]

BikePlanner.Org – A New Community-Based Trip Routing Tool

Finding your way around the Washington region by bike just got a whole lot easier. BikePlanner.Org is a new bike routing website from OpenPlans that uses the impressive crowdsourced OpenStreetMap. You can instantly set your personal preferences for “fastest,” “safest,” or “flattest” route using the handy triangle selector and you can also choose personal bike […]

Planning Your Bike Trip Around Nation’s Capital is About to Get Even Easier

Do you want to know which bike routes through the city are the most simple, have the best surface, have the fewest hills to climb, and are the safest? These are among the final touches being added to an online DC bicycle trip planner crowdsourced by a group of bike and open-source data hackers. They […]

Build software or community with the Mobility Lab Transit Tech Initiative

Are you fascinated by transportation and passionate about using technology to help people? The Mobility Lab, part of Arlington County Commuter Services, is looking for Software Development Fellows and an Open Source Community Manager to further its Transit Tech Initiative, which creates technology to help people understand their transportation choices and fosters open source collaboration. […]

Experimental real-time transit screens come to Arlington and DC

If you go into the Java Shack coffee shop near Court House in Arlington, or walk past the Red Palace bar on H Street in DC, you will see a new experimental project from the Mobility Lab: Digital screens showing real-time transit arrivals and Capital Bikeshare availability. Real-time transit screen at Java Shack. At Java […]

New app hailed on Regional News outlets!

Transit Near Me has been receiving lots of attention since a beta launch last week. Michelle Basch introduced listeners on WTOP radio to the new app saying, “if you drive because you don’t think public transportation can get you where you need to go, you might want to check out a new app created in […]

Crowdsourcing New Bikeshare Stations: Public Input = Public Transportation

Learn more about creating your own crowdsourcing effort with our open-source utility. Click here for more.

How to set up your own Geo-Crowdsourcing project

This summer Mobility Lab was recruited by BikeArlington to devise an online tool that would aid in providing feedback on proposed Capital Bikeshare station locations from Rosslyn to Ballston Common.  What we devised was new and can be harnessed almost anywhere.  The Crowdsourcing tool as we called it ties Google Maps with the database of […]

Mobility Lab Transit Tech Fellowships

The Mobility Lab is looking for 2 software development fellows and 1 visual design fellow for the development of transit applications as part of the Transit Tech Initiative (link Transit Hack Day article). Coordination of this fellowship program is with and Software development fellows should be multi-talented engineers with an interest in both […]

Lab Project #2: Hosting Transit Techs – collaborating for better applications

Open data seems to be all the rage these days with sources ranging from WMATA to the Federal Government’s  But honestly, who wants to sit down and read data tables?  Clearly the true power of open data comes with strategic applications that showcase the information in useful ways. Mobility Lab’s first projects are developed […]

Lab Project #1: Growing Capital Bikeshare – seeking input from the crowd

Capital Bikeshare’s phenomenal success demands fast growth.  In less than a year, CaBi ridership has increased to nearly 5000 trips per day.  To accommodate future growth, the system will expand its network of stations over the next few months. An immediate goal for CaBi expansion in Arlington is to create a dense network of stations […]