Shaping the future of public transportation with AI, impact and care

Anna Mohn

Anna Mohn

April 30, 2024

10 Y interview series  LI  FB  (1500 x 875 px)As Optibus celebrates its 10th anniversary, we delve into the company’s innovations, challenges, and future with CTO and Co-founder, Eitan Yanovsky. Reflecting on the transformative journey and looking ahead, Eitan shares insights into what has made Optibus a leader in making public transportation better. Together.

Can you share a story from the early days that highlights your innovative approach?

Eitan Yanovsky: In the beginning, our focus was on creating vehicle schedules efficiently and capturing real-time operations while quickly generating scenarios. This emphasis on speed and efficiency set the stage for our approach to optimization, distinguishing us from the competition. Our unique solution was to set a very strict goal for how quickly our system should work to make it flexible and responsive. This enables operators to easily try out different scheduling options and quickly adjust to changes. Pursuing this goal led us to develop algorithms capable of scheduling hundreds of vehicles in minutes, even before we officially formed the company.

Over the past decade, which Optibus project do you believe had the most transformative impact on communities or the environment?

Eitan Yanovsky: Our approach to electric vehicle (EV) scheduling and planning has been particularly impactful. By developing realistic and actionable plans that consider numerous operational factors, we've made the transition to electric fleets smoother for operators. This initiative not only supports sustainability but significantly eases operational transitions to EVs, marking a pivotal point in our efforts to make public transportation more environmentally friendly.

Our sustainability efforts are also evident in our work to encourage a shift from cars to public transportation. By optimizing routes and schedules, we help operators offer more efficient and appealing services that convince passengers to use public transportation instead of personal vehicles. This significantly contributes to environmental sustainability.

Optibus places a strong emphasis on its value of caring. How has this shaped our internal culture and relationships with customers and partners?

Eitan Yanovsky: Our culture of caring has been instrumental from day one. It's manifested in our readiness to assist, whether regarding platform use or solving a problem. This culture extends to our interactions with customers, fostering a supportive and collaborative environment. Our commitment to caring has helped us develop strong relationships, underpinned by a sense of partnership and mutual support that is highly valued by both our team and our customers.

Reflecting on the challenges, what has been one of the toughest Optibus has faced, and how did you overcome it?

Eitan Yanovsky: The COVID-19 pandemic posed a significant challenge, particularly as it impacted public transportation dramatically. Our response included offering our platform to any agency or operator at no charge for a limited period to help them navigate the crisis. This was not a blanket policy for everyone but a targeted effort to assist where we could make the most impact. This initiative helped operators adjust to rapidly changing conditions and demonstrated the value of our platform, leading to new opportunities and growth for us.

As we look forward, how do you see Optibus' vision and mission evolving over the next decade?

Eitan Yanovsky: Our mission to optimize public transportation is expanding to cover more aspects of the mobility ecosystem. We aim to extend our impact and address more forms of how passengers move from A to B.

In the near future, I would like us to serve 20 times the number of passengers we do today. This expansion would not only represent a significant achievement for us but would also mean a broader impact on public transportation globally by improving access, efficiency, and sustainability for communities around the world.

Technological advancements have been pivotal in Optibus' success. What do you see on the horizon that could shape the future of Optibus?

Eitan Yanovsky: Innovation is one of our core values and that includes always keeping an eye on things: How can we use the latest technology to solve our customers' challenges? The adoption of cloud technology has been a game-changer, enabling us to deploy solutions globally with unprecedented speed and flexibility. As we look to the future, AI continues to play a critical role in our success. Currently, AI enhances our platform's capabilities, but the emergence of Generative AI (GenAI) promises a transformative leap forward. GenAI will take our AI capabilities to the next level by enabling more natural, intuitive interactions with our system. Users will be able to communicate with the platform using natural language. This advancement will make our platform even more accessible and user-friendly, democratizing advanced optimization capabilities and further enhancing the efficiency of public transportation planning. In addition, quantum computing also presents exciting opportunities for enhancing our platform, promising to revolutionize the user experience and expand our capabilities.

Lastly, as Optibus celebrates this milestone, what are your aspirations for the company?

Eitan Yanovsky: Looking ahead, I envision Optibus not just expanding its reach but fundamentally transforming public transportation. We aspire to be at the heart of a global movement where public transportation systems are seamlessly integrated, highly efficient, and universally accessible, powered by AI and sustainable technologies. Our goal is to create a world where public transportation is not only the most logical choice for urban mobility but also a cornerstone of global efforts to combat climate change and promote inclusivity. By achieving this, we can profoundly impact the quality of urban life, environmental sustainability, and social equity worldwide.

Reflecting on a decade of achievements, Optibus looks to the future with a continued commitment to innovation, sustainability, and making public transportation better. Together.


Topics: Algorithms, Solutions, Technology, Company, People