In the mid-2000s a small revolution took place within the transportation agencies that serve the students of Humboldt State University. Seemingly overnight, users had more control of their options than ever before: Rides could be planned from a desktop computer; routes, stops, and transit times could all be accessed from Google Maps; and the new Jack Pass gave students free unlimited rides anywhere that the Eureka, Arcata or Humboldt County bus systems traveled.
These changes were all part of the work the transportation advocacy group Green Wheels, which among many other students included Aaron Antrim (‘06, English & Practivistas appropriate technology student). Today, he is the president for Trillium Solutions, Inc., a Portland, Ore.,-based transportation consulting firm. Aaron leads a team that makes transportation options easy to understand and use online and increase ridership on existing transit systems, with ongoing work for 250 transit agencies.
Aaron’s start with Green Wheels soon had him working with Greg Pratt, a manager at Humboldt Transit Authority who was eager to work with someone who could bring fresh ideas. “Most transit agencies would not have been open to an impetuous kid spinning out ideas,” Aaron says. “But Greg and HTA has vision and courage and it paid off. It was lucky that they were open to suggestions and willing to have an adventure.”
That adventure included developing the business plan that led to the Jack Pass and the implementation of data standards so information from the local transit authorities could be shared with Google Maps. Data standards are something Aaron spends quite a bit of time thinking about. With the emergence of bikeshare, carshare (like Zipcar on the HSU campus), ridehail (such as Lyft and Uber), a wealth of travel options are becoming available, but the abundance of options makes for a more complicated transportation network.
Currently, Aaron is working with the Rocky Mountain Institute on a project that could lead to data standards to integrate and aggregate service information from public transit, Lyft and Uber, taxi services, and even car-share companies like ZipCar. Making sure transportation providers and transportation apps are speaking the same language is a big hurdle. “A lot of transportation agencies are interested in providing a more seamless and integrated single gateway to the transportation network so you can use one app to compare all your options like cost and travel time, etc,” Aaron explains. “Data standards could open the door to more multi-modal apps and solve that.”
To learn more about Aaron and his work at Trillium Solutions, Inc., visit http://trilliumtransit.com/.