We are pleased to announce that Mentor Engineering has been acquired by the Trapeze Group and AssetWorks.
Mentor’s fixed route, paratransit & taxi solutions are a strong complement to Trapeze’s public transit solution set. While already currently working together in over 70 transit properties across North America, this acquisition will help further strengthen our integrated product offering to the public transit market.
Trapeze Group’s sister company AssetWorks, a leading provider of fleet management software, automated fuel management systems and motor pool and car sharing management systems, provides a strong complement to Mentor’s mobile workforce and fleet management business.
We are very excited about the benefits these new partnerships will bring to our clients and we are looking forward to continuing to provide second-to-none customer service and delivering quality products in our new home.
Realizing a Return on Investment with Mentor Ranger
For fixed route and paratransit agencies, having the right CAD/AVL technology in place is critical to operational efficiency. But when it comes to installing mobile data computers like Mentor Ranger® in buses, what types of ROI can you expect? Today’s featured article looks at where you will see a return once mobile data computers are in place, how that return is realized, and what other agencies like yours have been able to accomplish with Ranger. Click here to get the full article.
Founded in June 2012, with a fleet of seven high quality vehicles, Mighty Cab is a small taxi firm with a potential service area of around 400,000 people. In order to get out of the gate quickly they partnered with Mentor Engineering to deploy the Intellifleet® taxi management system. The Fleet Beat caught up with Mighty Cab president John Noback to learn more.
1. What business concerns or challenges did you have that you wanted a technology solution to address?
There wasn’t a really good credit card system in the area for taxis. So having a solution with an integrated credit card system is a big deal for us. With other companies, customers have to call in with their payment which makes it really cumbersome if people wanted to use credit cards. There was also limited use of GPS and automated dispatching.
2. Why did you select Mentor Engineering’s solution?
With the size of our company, most other technology providers were trying to steer us towards a hosted solution. Mentor was much more open to doing the outright purchase. I also like the fact that everything is in-house. I don’t have three different vendors to deal with so there’s no finger pointing. When there’s an issue I call one place and get it fixed. I don’t have to depend on the hardware provider coercing the software provider into doing something that I need.
3. What features of the system do the dispatchers like best?
They really like the saved information function, where you enter the phone number and the system recalls all of the customer’s information. This saves dispatchers a lot of time and allows them to work much more efficiently. They also really like the map functionality, because they can see where all the vehicles are in real-time. They can also go back and track what someone did for a shift.
4. How has the system improved your customer’s experience?
We are just starting to deploy gift cards, which have been received very well by our customers. They really like the idea of being able to use a gift card or purchase a gift card for someone. It’s different, no one does that in this area, and the fact that it’s integrated into the Ranger makes it that much easier.
5. How do you see the new technology system benefiting you in the long-term?
As we expand into satellite markets, we don’t have to add any infrastructure. We like that flexibility. We can even expand into other markets. With the way the system is setup over the cellular network, we could dispatch for any kind of delivery whether it is taxi or courier or specialised transportation
How riders hail a cab is becoming a hot topic in the taxi world with the introduction of big taxi applications like Hailo and Uber that let riders book a taxi using their smartphones, bypassing company call centers.
These taxi apps say they are just another avenue through which riders can access a cab and that taxi drivers are free agents, owned and employed by no one. On the other hand, there is concern from established taxi companies that the apps are cashing in on established taxi brand names and reputations. Plus, there is the added concern around safety.
The Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association (TLPA), is worried about “smart-phone apps that choose to dispatch trips directly to self-certified drivers,” because there is no one regulating whether those drivers are properly insured, have cleared criminal background checks, drive publicly inspected vehicles, charge a regulated taxi fare, or if they will serve the disabled and elderly, and poorer, underserved neighborhoods.
So is there a middle ground? An option that lets riders book, track and pay for trips using their Smartphone—something they’re starting to demand—while maintaining the regulations and integrity of the taxi industry?
Products like Fleetbit do just that. Fleetbit is a taxi app that integrates with automated taxi dispatching software like our own Mentor IntelliFleet. This mobile app helps taxi companies attract and retain more customers, in fact over 90% of passengers come back to the app after using it once. Its integration with IntelliFleet means that taxi companies can track all mobile activities so the safety of drivers and customers is central and the integrity of established taxi companies is maintained.
What do you think?
What are your opinions on the advent of mobile taxi apps? We’d love to hear from you.
More on the debate:
Mike Koebel, Mentor Engineering’s VP of Sales and Business Development, recently sat down with Gas, Oil and Mining Contractor magazine to talk about how Mobile Workforce Management solutions can benefit oil and gas companies. He touches on vehicle and asset tracking, solutions to adhere to Hours of Service legislation, and ways to keep employees safer with tools like an intrinsically-safe work-alone pendant.
Serving communities in Butte County, California, the Butte County Association of Governments (BCAG), provides urban and rural fixed route and paratransit service through the B-Line (Butte Regional Transit). Delivering 1.3 million fixed route trips and 136,000 paratransit trips in 2011, serving four cities, one town and the county, the B-Line has recently implemented a transit technology solution from Mentor Engineering. The Fleet Beat spoke with Transit Manager, Robin Van Valkenburgh to learn more.
1. What business concerns or challenges did you have that you wanted a technology solution to address?
On the paratransit side, we wanted to track our routing and scheduling to enable improvements. On the fixed route side, we wanted to better on-time performance and increase efficiency to minimize vehicle miles traveled and wear and tear, while improving the customer experience on the buses.
Why did you select Mentor Engineering’s solution?
The product is essentially foolproof and very user friendly for the drivers, which means that they actually utilize the equipment and; therefore, our system improves.
2. What features of the system do the dispatchers like best?
The dispatchers really like the ability to see the real-time ETAs of the vehicles. ‘Where’s the bus?’ is the number one call the dispatchers get and having the power to say ‘the bus is 2 minutes late,’ satisfies the customer because the dispatcher can provide a concrete answer.
3. Have you been able to reduce your use of paper and printing with the system?
Yes, it’s definitely been reduced and that’s fantastic.
4. Where are you seeing the most benefit from the system?
With the reporting features – particularly the schedule adherence report. Being able to drill down into the performance of the routes by driver or by run, allows us to gauge the efficacy of the run time by stops, the performance of the driver, and the entire route timing. It’s invaluable in terms of providing direct correlation to how the route is running and if it’s set up correctly.
We achieve better on-time performance with this process. For example, we had a driver who was constantly late so we went through these reports with him and now he no longer runs late, which means that our overall system performance is improving.
5. Has there been an increase in ridership?
This past year, which is the first full year of service with the changes we made based on Mentor –provided data, we saw an 11% increase in ridership. We also had our highest ever ridership rate.
The ability to utilize the technology as a tool for improvement is just fantastic. The technology has demonstrated time and again that it really is an excellent tool for enhancing our system.
Join Naomi Schellenberg, Mentor’s Client Care Manager, for a quick, 1-minute overview of the best ways to promote driver acceptance when implementing AVL/MDT technology in your transit business. New technology, even when it makes work easier, can be met with resistance from drivers. Naomi will share her expert tips on how to engage drivers from the start.
Watch this short demo to discover Mentor Fleet’s powerful functionality developed specifically for fleet-based businesses working in the energy sector. Learn how Fleet’s map data lets users search for well sites by LSD, NTS, site name, well owner or API number, and see how easy it is to manage lone workers and Hours of Service compliance. You will also get a quick demonstration of exactly how Mentor Fleet supports Journey Management programs and collects IFTA data for filing fuel tax returns.
Join the team at Number 1 Transit to discover how Mentor Streets, a leading CAD/AVL and passenger information system, keeps operations running smoothly even when an unexpected snowstorm causes major problems. Watch the demo to see how the agency can react immediately to reschedule, reroute and reassign buses to minimize disruption to passengers. At the same time passengers are kept informed of changes to their journey with real-time updates being delivered in multiple ways.
Mentor’s Transit Product Manager Chris Pettigrew provides a quick talk on the elements to consider when setting up a text messaging service for your transit agency. Chris outlines what is involved with the initial setup of the service, briefly explains how the technical elements work and, finally, describes the on-going cost considerations of implementing this service.