STM and Transit test new AI-based tool to monitor bus detours

Posted: 6 March 2023 | | No comments yet

STM and Transit’s new artificial intelligence based tool will help streamline bus detours and temporary stops for Montreal’s public transit users, enhancing the overall customer experience.

STM and Transit test new AI-based tool for bus detours

Credit: Société de transport de Montréal

In collaboration with the Transit app, the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) has announced that it is rolling out a new tool for viewing current detours in the bus network. The new artificial intelligence (AI) based feature is now available on the home page of the mobile and desktop versions of the STM website, as well as in the Transit app.

Customers can use the new tool to better plan their trips by viewing alternate routes, as well as temporary and re-located stops. 

The project has been developed with $200,000 in financial support received through the Quebec government’s call for projects as part of the innovation programme, which is managed by Investissement Québec.

“We are developing this solution to meet a real need among our customers as we seek to leverage technology to improve the customer experience,” said Marie-Claude Léonard, Chief Executive Officer of STM. “We know that it can be difficult to keep track of detours in our extensive 500-square-kilometre network. Thanks to support from the Quebec government, we have taken the opportunity to work with Transit to develop an innovative, functional solution.”

“Detours have long been a major annoyance for our users,” said Sam Vermette, President and Chief Executive Officer of Transit. “The new feature automatically detects, analyses and displays detours and temporary stops within an hour after they begin. This is a significant step forward for all Montréal public transit users, and we cannot wait to start working with our other partner transit agencies to integrate this technology into their networks as well.”

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The new tool allows customers to locate out-of-service stops and their corresponding temporary stops. To use it via the website, STM customers can simply type their bus line number into the schedule search bar. The bus route will then be displayed in blue, with detours marked by a dotted line and out-of-service sections in red. If there are no red sections, the bus is running on its regular route.

In the Transit app, users can simply select their bus line and, if any detours or temporary stops are detected, they will be shown on the map.

Transit’s detour and temporary stop locator uses a statistical model trained on thousands of STM bus trips. This data comes from two sources – open location data from STM and real-time location data from people using the Transit app’s GO crowd sourcing function.

As soon as three vehicles in a row deviate from their regular route, Transit records the new route and begins showing it in the app. Using data on vehicle acceleration and deceleration, as well as the locations of existing stops in the area, the app detects and displays likely temporary stop locations.

On average, updated routes and stop locations are displayed in the app and on the STM website within an hour of the first vehicle’s deviation from its route.

After the trial period, STM and Transit will analyse the feedback and assess the tool’s performance, as well as the accuracy of the information presented. The results will provide insight to help STM consider how to proceed with a potential launch of a finalised version of the feature.