Companies like Uber and Lyft have transformed how millions of people maneuver through both rural and urban areas. Ride-sharing apps offer on-demand services that public transit options do not, which has put pressure on cities to find a way to work with the private sector or offer new services themselves.

Bob James, VP of Technology and Innovation for First Transit, participated in a panel discussion titled The Critical Role of Data and Analytics in Creating Effective Mobility as a Service Solution at the Smart Cities Connect Expo in National Harbor, Maryland.

“Fixed route transit service has gone down about 9 percent since these on-demand services have started up. So transit agencies have to start adapting to these kind of services,” James told MarketScale at the event.

However, even private sector companies like Uber and Lyft might not reach their full potential without working alongside public officials across the country.

“I think the Ubers and Lyfts are starting to realize they need that public participation,” James said. “They realize to qualify for the federal subsidies they’re going to need to meet these social equity issues and so I think they’re seeing these partnerships as valuable.”

Another challenge facing dense urban areas is a rise in population that is outpacing cities’ preexisting infrastructure. This means overcrowded sidewalks, longer traffic delays, and potential safety hazards.

An emphasis on data and analytics might alleviate the stress of commuting and travel, and smart technology will be at the heart of this collection.