ITS Delivers more Efficient Runs and Routes
The HOP, operated by the Hill Country Transit District, delivers both fixed-route transit and paratransit services throughout Central Texas.
Before using an Intelligent Transportation System (ITS), schedulers and dispatchers at The HOP manually entered information in Excel spreadsheets. And, both paratransit and fixed-route drivers kept track of information such as the number of miles travelled or rider counts on clip boards. Driver/dispatcher communication happened over the radio. Knowing that these were time-consuming, error-prone processes, The HOP wanted to automate information capture and driver scheduling in order to use their resources more effectively and improve service.
For the fixed-route fleet, Mentor StreetsÂ® Transit is integrated with Trapeze FX software which delivers Computer-Aided Dispatch/Automatic Vehicle Location (CAD/AVL) capabilities with schedule/route adherence monitoring and reporting applications. The HOP's 108-vehicle paratransit fleet is equipped with Mentor RangerÂ® mobile data terminals, which work with Trapeze PASS to enable same-day scheduling, electronic manifests, and real-time messaging.
True to its name, The HOP aims to deliver short, quick trips for its paratransit and fixed-route riders. Equipped with ITS technology from Mentor Engineering and Trapeze, they are now better able to do this than ever before.
Replacing their manual processes, Mentor StreetsÂ® Transit integrates with Trapeze FX software and allows The HOP's schedulers to create bus stops and routes, generate trips, perform blocking, run cutting, rostering, bidding and route geocoding for schedule/route adherence.
According to Luis Pino, Technology Manager at The HOP: "We've seen the greatest benefit in terms of scheduling. One scheduler used to work until 6pm everyday scheduling buses for the next day. Now he's finished by 2pm. We've also been able to increase the roles and responsibilities of our schedulers with this technology."
"Route planning for our fixed-route service is also much faster," says Luis. "We don't have to physically drive the route and manually count passengers to determine which bus stops need to be added or eliminated. All that information is instantly available to us. We have more data and more data accuracy, which gives us the ability to operate more efficient routes and runs. This increased efficiency has allowed us to add runs without increasing the number of drivers."
ITS for both fixed-route and paratransit fleets gives The HOP's dispatchers Computer-Aided Dispatch and Automatic Vehicle Location (CAD/AVL) capabilities. They can see the location of all the vehicles in their care on their onscreen map and can instantly access any vehicle's status to see if it is running early or late. Luis explains: "Before when we needed to add a trip we had to radio our drivers to see who was closest to the pickup location. Now, in an instant, dispatchers can see exactly who is closest to the customer and send that driver." AVL also lets The HOP quickly transfer riders from its paratransit service to fixed-route fleet.
Luis has found that an unexpected benefit of the technology is using the system's historical data to verify a vehicle's speed if the driver received a speeding ticket, as well as verifying accident details. In one instance, a bus was accused of a hit and run. The HOP used Streets to see where that bus was at the time of the incident and found that it was running late and was not at the accident location. After giving that record to the insurance company, it was the last The HOP heard of it. "It's a historical AVL fingerprint," says Luis.