Paris metro, France. (Photo by Hristo Rusev/NurPhoto via Getty Images) NurPhoto via Getty Images Urban mobility app Moovit—which describes itself
Urban mobility app Moovit—which describes itself as the “Wikipedia of Transit”—has lifted the lid on how some of its 680 million users traveled on public transit last year. The company’s 2019 Global Public Transport Report also contains data on usage of micromobility services such as e-scooters and city bike share.
Israel-headquartered Moovit provides a journey planning service in 3,000 cities across the world. As well as teasing out data from millions of actual transit journeys, Moovit also asked some users to provide qualitative information, seeking to find out why transit is used and why it’s often shunned.
One of the key findings, said Moovit’s chief marketing officer Yovav Meydad, is that the number of transfers in a transit journey can be a deal-breaker.
“Our data revealed that Parisians have to make three or more transfers to [complete their journeys,” revealed Meydad.
“Public transportation in Paris is very advanced—you have the standard Metro, you have the RER [Réseau Express Régional] quicker metro, you have light rail, and there’s a large network of buses, but because of that journeys across the city can be complex.”
Paris, reveals the data, had the highest rate of people across the 99 global cities that made three or more transfers.
“When we asked [our users] what would encourage them to use public transportation more they said they wanted accurate arrival times, but also a higher frequency of services so, [when transferring] they don’t have to wait [too long] at different stops.”
Moovit’s app—and associated desktop version—provides users with real-time information as well as “get off now” notifications at stops. The app also has information on micromobility providers such as bike share bikes and e-scooters, and for journeys that can’t be completed by transit, there’s integration with Uber.
Distance is a crucial deal-breaker, said Meydad. For instance, using his company’s interactive report it can be seen that, in 2019, the average transit trip distance in London was 10.7 kilometers and for the larger and more spread out Los Angeles it was only a smidgen different at 10.6 kilometers: this suggests that people in Los Angeles, who often have to travel long distances for even the most mundane of journeys, feel they have to drive (which, of course, is an outcome baked into the city’s current design.)
“Someone that needs to travel 20 kilometers or more is probably going to choose a car,” stated Meydad.
“And it’s not just trip distance,” he added.
“Again, it’s also the number of transfers that will probably need to be made. If somebody has to transfer between two and sometimes three lines, rather than take a direct line, it may appear to make more sense to get in a private car even though that creates congestion and pollution.”
Moovit’s report can show policymakers that “one of the ways to encourage people to shift from private cars to public transportation is to reduce the number of times, and the distance, that people need to walk to [transit] stops,” said Meydad.
“By comparing cities that are similar in sizes, policymakers will be better able to understand how they can improve transit in their cities,” he added.
KEY FINDINGS FROM 2019 Global Public Transport Report
- London and South East England have the most two hours or more journeys in Europe. The average commute time in the Roma-Lazio region is 52 minutes. In Paris, it’s 49 minutes.
- 21% of Manchester and Liverpool transit users wait 20 minutes or more at stops during their journeys, the highest in the U.K.
- In Barcelona 36% of riders wait less than 5 minutes, and in London, it’s 28%.
- More than a third of transit users in the West Midlands walk more than 1 kilometer during a transit trip — the highest in Europe. Londoners have the shortest average walking distance in the U.K., with 646 meters, which is 33 meters more than Madrid, which is first in Europe for the shortest average walking distance per journey.
- Residents of Rome cite poor road conditions—all those cobbles!—as the main reason why they don’t use micro-mobility. 90% of Scots have never used micro-mobility, they reveal in questionnaires, although the option exists in their cities, compared to the worldwide average of 52%. Just 3% of Brits use micro-mobility daily, reveals the Moovit report.
Moovit’s 2019 Global Public Transport Report is free to explore. The company makes money by selling its anonymized transit data to cities.
“We leverage our deep understanding of data and the people usage to create products that we then license to cities and transport authorities,” reported Meydad.
The fact that Moovit is an Israeli company has not stunted growth—it has client cities in the Middle East—and its location is partly a reason for its rapid uptake around the world.
“Israel is a small country,” said Meybad, “so when you start a tech company here, you immediately know that you want to build some things that are not just for Israel. Many tech Israeli startups think from day one ‘How do I create a global company?’”
Moovit claims to collect 5 billion data points a day, anonymous data which is added to what the company says is the “world’s largest repository of transport and urban mobility data.”