What Is a Transit Management System?


In your job as a planner, we know you're often fielding basic questions about public transit. We hope this Remix Primer blog series offers another resource as you educate your constituents.

The positive impact of public transportation is undeniable. When it comes to streamlining public transportation to make the most of that positive impact, a high-quality transit management system (TMS) is the key. A TMS can help communities boost the efficiency of transportation, cut costs, and gain valuable insights into the way transit affects each unique city.

Shippers, carriers, distributors, and public transportation entities are common parties that utilize various TMS to serve the public.

However, when used correctly, transportation planners can use TMS to optimize their public transit capabilities and improve their city design from the inside out. When paired with the right tools, a TMS can help public transportation create a positive impact on more communities.

What Exactly Is a Transit Management System?

A transit or transportation management system — usually abbreviated as TMS — is software that is tailored to the planning, execution, and optimization of the shipping or transportation process. Typically, a TMS is used to:

  • Communicate schedules and updates to commuters
  • Schedule transit routes
  • Track transit routes and ridership

For shipping, a TMS may help track inventory, prepare shipments, track shipments, and optimize shipping routes. In a public transit setting, however, a TMS is designed to create the most powerful transportation solution for commuters.

What Do Transit Management Systems Work With?

A TMS utilizes multiple data sources and powerful integration processes to function. To support the mammoth task of providing transit information, planning, and tracking routes — and acting as a transactional platform — a TMS often integrates multiple management systems.

By partnering with other systems, a TMS can make the transit process more efficient, accessible, and safe. Some of the common systems that a TMS works with include the ones below.

Passenger Information System

A passenger information system acts as a commuter-facing display system. It broadcasts information about scheduled service, disruptions of service, and more. Passenger information systems include:

  • Screen displays at transit stations
  • Screen displays on busses or other modes of transportation
  • Voice announcements over loudspeakers and PA systems
  • Web portals, SMS notifications, and social media updates

GPS System

A GPS system provides real-time data about each vehicle in a fleet as it moves about the city, including:

  • Destination
  • Location
  • Ridership data
  • Speed

This data can help populate passenger information systems with estimated times of arrival, updates on traffic delays, and wait times.

Scheduling and Dispatch System

Various TMS are responsible for optimizing transportation fleets in real-time. This includes communication with drivers, rerouting, rescheduling, and emergency reporting when needed.

Depot Management System

Fleets need constant maintenance, refueling, traffic control, and more. Systems management often includes depot management as a way of keeping rapid transit running smoothly.

How Do Transit Planners Leverage a TMS?

Some of the most powerful elements of a TMS include the capability to automate and optimize. For transit planners, this means that a great TMS can be used to foster efficiency, help reach more commuters, and create a more sustainable future. For the environmentally-conscious planner, a TMS can be leveraged to do the following:

Relieve Traffic Congestion

An essential function of transit management systems is route planning.

Transit planners can utilize the data insight they gain from a geographic information system (GIS) to understand which routes would be the most efficient for major transit. Once they have data on the way commuters move through the city, planners can use their transit management system to plan and schedule transit accordingly.

When they pair the capabilities of GIS and TMS to select the most expeditious transit routes, planners can help relieve traffic in more congested areas. By providing commuters access to the routes they need most, planners can help lighten the load on their city’s infrastructure, reduce traffic, and lessen pollution caused by excessive congestion.

Optimize City Streets

Another important feature of transit management is the optimization of city streets.

One of a transportation planner’s ultimate goals is to optimize their city design through effective public transportation. When planners can see how transit impacts their city, they can reimagine their infrastructure to better support their commuters. Using tools like street design software can help planners envision the ways they can optimize the city streets and walkways in their area.

For example: If a planner was able to improve access to bus routes and design wider streets that support more rapid bus transit, they can reduce emissions by removing personal vehicles on streets and easing congestion with more efficient street design.

Reduce Carbon Emissions

As more and more cities move towards creating full fleets of electric buses, transit planners have an opportunity to plan for a smaller carbon footprint.

When paired with a TMS, public transportation planning software can provide planners with a comprehensive view of their city’s current infrastructure — and how it can be shaped for a greener future.

Why Is a Transit Management System Important?

A TMS is important due to its direct control over rapid transit in a given area. Transit systems and city infrastructures are complex entities with an immense amount of evolving data points. TMS software can help manage these complexities and enhance transportation for the modern commuter.

As cities grow, the automation of TMS becomes more essential to providing cities with the best chance at uninterrupted public service. A quality transit management system helps maintain consistency of service for all commuters by maintaining the city’s fleet and keeping riders in the know about important updates.

Once a city planner has designed the optimal city, a TMS is just one of the systems they will need to enact their plan and keep commuters moving through the city without interruption.

Need Help Planning a TMS Implementation?

As a city planner, you have the opportunity to keep improving your city at the infrastructural level. When you pair your transit management system with the right tools, you open up new ways to refresh your city’s public transportation.

Whether you’re reimagining your city’s public transit system from the ground up or building improvements into your current infrastructure, Remix can help you envision, evaluate, and collaborate on transit projects from their inception to implementation. To learn more about how Remix can help you elevate transportation and drive better outcomes, request a demo.