Transit GIS Applications in Fairfax County, Virginia

Journal of Public Transportation Article in Volume 2, Issue 4 (2000) by Wenyu Jia and Brendan Ford, Fairfax County Geographic Information Services         

Abstract

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (DOT) manages a fixed-route bus system (the Fairfax Connector) that encompasses 58 routes. To better support the planning, operation, and marketing of this bus system, the Fairfax County DOT and the Fairfax County Department of Information Technology formed a team to develop a pilot project of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) transit applications. These applications would serve as a demonstration to facilitate automation, analysis, accessing, and plotting of transit data. To be successful, the applications had to be cost effective and match users’ technical needs with their abilities. Paramount to the success of this project was having a transit database capable of supporting all the applications identified by the development team. The database had to handle problems such as bus stops serving more than one route and routing varying by time of day. To effectively model the bus routes in GIS, each path had to be uniquely identified even though the same route could travel on different paths. Dynamic segmentation of ARC/INFO v.7.1 was used to develop the route database. A bus stop database, in the format of ARC/INFO coverage, was then related to the route coverage. More than 15 applications were identified for three areas of transit management: planning, operation, and marketing. Planning applications focused on transit service improvement and route restructuring. They included routing adjustment, route demographic and land-use analysis, and reporting of statistics required by the National Transit Database. Operation applications were designed for daily service monitoring and consisted of route running times, loading at bus stops, and emergency service. Marketing applications emphasized functions for public outreach, which included creating specialized route and stop maps and publishing route information on the Internet. Most end-user applications were built in ArcView 3.0 using Avenue and Dialog Designer. Some applications were built with ESRI’s Map Objects (MO) and Map Objects Internet Map Server.