NJ Transit leverages data for bus and rail transformation

NJ Transit CTO Faisal Jameel has launched a data-driven overhaul to transform how the third-largest public transit agency in the US serves its passengers.

NJ Transit leverages data for bus and rail transformation
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Nearly two years ago, Faisal Jameel left the world of pharmaceuticals to take the mantle of CTO for NJ Transit, the third-largest public transit system in the US. Reporting to CIO Lookman Fazal, Jameel’s mission was to transform NJ Transit’s data operations to overhaul processes throughout the organization.

“When I joined, there was essentially no concept of a data architecture group in our IT department,” Jameel says. “We were a little behind the times with regards to that. Even at this point, I would consider us ‘dataphobes’ because most of our business has not seen the value in data as an asset.”

Dataphobes, Jameel says, rarely use data for decision-making, though NJ Transit has already made big strides during Jameel’s tenure. Within the next two to three years, his goal is to transform NJ Transit into what he calls a “datavore,” an organization that makes heavy use of data analysis to make decisions.

Proving the value of data

NJ Transit is a statewide transit agency, responsible for a fleet of about 1,200 rail cars, 2,200 buses, and 93 light-rail vehicles that serves the state of New Jersey, along with connections to New York City and Philadelphia. In past years, it served about 270 million passengers a year, though that number has fallen during the pandemic. As CTO, Jameel manages a portfolio of about 150 applications that support the business. His first order of business in guiding the organization’s transformation was to start collecting and delivering data the agency could use.

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