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How We Used Data to Design an Equitable Bus Network

Updated on September 7, 2022

Riders enter and exit a bus in Harvard Station's Upper Busway

The Bus Network Redesign team recently released a proposed map of our new bus system. To create the map, the team used a variety of data to help understand travel patterns in our service area and rider needs for bus service.

Tracking Where Riders Travel

One of the primary sources the team used was Location Based Services (LBS) data and metrics from StreetLight Data.

LBS is anonymous cellphone location data that helped us understand where people were traveling on all modes (including driving, walking, and biking).

Since seniors are less likely to own smartphones, we did targeted outreach with the help of the Mass Senior Action Council to confirm that the data we were using was representative of their travel too.

View travel demand data

Benefits of understanding where riders travel

Collecting this data gave us three important insights:

  • We saw where riders wanted to travel but were unable to using transit because the bus doesn't currently service that area
  • Helped us look at all trips, not just work trips to or from residential areas
  • Helped us understand where people with low incomes and people of color were traveling

We Learned from Riders, Transit Advocates, the Census, and More 

In addition to LBS data, we looked at census data, rider surveys, and land-use and roadway data. We also used expertise from transit advocates, municipal staff, and elected officials.

Our Data-informed Metrics for Designing an Equitable Bus Network

The Bus Network Redesign team analyzed the data it collected, then designed a set of metrics (listed below) to measure how our proposed bus network would serve riders.

The team built equity checks into our "type of service provided" and "network competitiveness" metrics to make sure we were providing equal or better bus access to people of color and people with low incomes in our service area.

Contact Information

If you need help using any of the resources linked here or want to request more specific data, email us at

For other questions and comments related to the Bus Network Redesign, contact us at

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