Transparent and competitive
Sound Transit is a public transit provider that serves the urban areas of the counties King, Pierce and Snohomish (Washington, USA). They have their own trains and buses, but also manage customer payment systems, track works and the construction of bridges and tunnels. To get every traveler from A to B as fast and as comfortable as possible, Sound Transit closely collaborates with local transit providers, that have their own vehicles and time schedules.
Being a regional transit authority, it is their job to partner with the local transit agencies to create an integrated regional high-capacity transportation system. Quite a challenge, especially when you consider the public character of the agency.
Sound Transit spends public money, meaning they need to be transparent and cost-conscious in everything they do, and the public just entrusted them with a large capital investment to build more innovative and modern transit services.
Better rider communications
Fortunately, people like Matt Clark constantly search for ways to keep Sound Transit a helpful and progressive transit provider. “Until recently, we relied on legacy systems that worked perfectly fine in the old days,” he explains. “But as the number of applications grew, we started to bump up against all sorts of problems. For example, there was a gap to integrate the legacy systems and the cloud based systems such as Human Resources.”
“Sincerity and transparent: that’s the kind of people we want to work with”
At the same time, Matt recognized the need to enable better rider communications. “We wanted to be able to collect real time information from ourselves and our partners and share that with our customers,” he says. “As the region is absolutely gridlock with traffic, it’s never been more important to let customers know where we are. A bus needs to be there when expected. If it’s late, we should tell them. It’s about building confidence, really.” Another example revolves around monitoring passenger trains that can be delayed by the presence of freight trains on the same tracks.
Getting the right people
Building an open source service-based platform to improve customer communication and partner collaboration seemed like the perfect idea. And it was, except for one thing. “My initial plan was to build the platform and hand it over to the internal development team,” Matt says. “But we struggled to hire enough quality people in Seattle’s competitive labor market. So, I changed the approach and looked to hire a partner firm instead.”
Matt wrote a request and contacted companies all around the world to ask for support. Proposals came pouring in, one of them coming from WSO2 leading partner Yenlo. Although Dutch in origin, they had an office in the USA and now these days also in Sri Lanka, next to WSO2's main development centers, making on-premise support possible. It turned out to be the perfect match with the profile of Sound Transit. “Yenlo proved to be most in-tune with what we’re trying to do,” Matt explains. “We’d had previous interactions with them, and they had shown their services were easy to work with. Moreover, they brought ideas to the table. They were sincere and transparent in the way they marketed their services. I think I instantly knew they were the kind of people we wanted to work with.”