It doesn’t have to be as difficult as it is to navigate public transportation options and find places to park, the owner of Sandy Springs business Passio Technologies said at a Buckhead Business Association June 22.
Mitch Skyer, the founder and president of the company, told the BBA at its weekly breakfast that data and information on public transportation use and options needs to be combined to a single platform and presented in a way that’s easier to understand. If public transportation options are made easier to understand, more people will use them, and the demand will cause Atlanta and MARTA to make options better.
The topic is especially relevant now, Skyer said, because the recent I-85 collapse showed that people are willing to adopt transit, but can be easily overwhelmed by the amount of options. The collapse introduced people to public transportation and showed people are willing to ride it as long as they have the information they need, he said.
“If the capacity is there and the experience is a positive one, people are willing to adopt it,” he said. “It shows that the potential is there and it’s worth it to make those investments,” said Skyer, who recently joined the board of the Georgia Transit Association, a nonprofit dedicated to improving public transportation.
To make the idea to centralize data work, Passio, which counts bus passengers and provides real-time vehicle tracking, and other data sources will need popular apps, especially social media apps like Facebook or Snapchat, to integrate the information into their apps.
“We can’t do it alone,” Skyer, who started the company in 2010, said.
One of the main problems is people don’t know what to look for, Skyer said. Between MARTA, CobbLinc, Relay Bike Share, Lyft, and many others, people don’t know where to begin. Combining all that data in one source would solve that problem, he said.
“Every day you get up you make a decision, and for most, that decision is the car,” Skyer said, but other options are out there, and they need to be easier to find, he said.
Skyer noted the recent announcement MARTA will take over operation of the Atlanta Streetcar is one combination of services that will not only combine data, but make the service easier for users.
Surveys show people like being on rail services more than buses, so the service is valuable, Skyer said, but it has to go to more practical locations and MARTA may eventually be able to help with that.
He also thinks the recent city parking vendor change will make parking easier for Atlanta visitors and residents. A new vendor, SP Plus, launched ATLPlus June 14, and it will replace the previous provider, ParkAtlanta.
“We’re definitely a fan of SP Plus,” he said. “I think they are looking to make changes with what they learned from what ParkAtlanta did.”
And all this will improve business, Skyer said, because customers will be able to get to businesses easier and will know where to park.
There is also the concern other cities will “leapfrog” Atlanta by providing better transportation and parking options, causing businesses and corporations to leave Atlanta, but combining data could help with that, he said.