The Muncie Indiana Transit system (MITS) offers a remarkably affordable fixed route as well as paratransit service. They offer door-to-door van transportation to help meet the needs of mobility impaired persons in Muncie. Strong supporters of community transportation, they work to create a transit friendly community by celebrating the health benefits as well as the environmental and cost benefits of public transit. The MITSPlus van service is a demand response addition to their city bus system and reiterates what MITS is all about. Their goal is to provide affordable, safe, comfortable and dependable transit options to those who would otherwise not be able to access public transit.
Despite being named “Outstanding Public Transportation System” by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) in 2005, MITS found that their paratransit service was using obsolete and malfunctioning on-board computers. Maintenance and repair of the units was an ongoing and constant problem. As a result, some consoles were simply not used or ceased to function altogether. This led dispatchers and drivers to resort back to the even more obsolete method of using paper manifests for their scheduling requirements. The size and scope of their service, however, would make this an incredibly inefficient system, leading to an overall dissatisfaction among the vehicle drivers. You can see how this will eventually trickle down, affecting the quality of service to riders.
The main problem with using paper manifests and communicating via radio is that information is slow in getting to those who need it. MITSPlus drivers would get schedule changes and assignments way too late in the day. Without a functional computer on board, direct radio communication was the only way to maintain schedules. However, this led to much confusion, errors and radio congestion.
The first thing that the TripSpark demand response software solution helped to address was the stress involved with taking calls and dispatching vehicles. The full power of the total solution, however, was realized when MITSPlus installed our MDTs into their vehicles. The workload and stress heaped upon drivers who had been forced to use paper manifests, suddenly vanished. The computers have helped drivers stay on schedule and become totally in synch with dispatch. Notifications and even personal messages can be sent to the MDT screen, reducing the amount of radio congestion they previously encountered. Because of total synchronization of data, the dispatcher’s schedule was accessible to drivers as well. The web-enabled abilities of TripSpark demand response solutions allow dispatchers the flexibility of working from home. With less confusion when it came to last minute calls and re-routes, drivers are able to focus entirely on the needs of their riders and the job of providing safe and reliable service.
“I never want to go back to using a paper manifest again.”MITSPlus Driver
Dispatch time has been greatly reduced. Work hours have been reduced because the web-enabled dispatch connectivity has allowed for a night dispatcher to supervise MITS’s fixed route as well as paratransit operations. Work that had previously gone into simply maintaining a schedule could now be focused in other areas of customer service. Because of the reduction in last-minute call confusion, driver satisfaction has also increased. Their paratransit service has improved and, in fact, MITSPlus can now offer an On Time Guarantee to their riders. They have seen a 3% increase in the passengers per hour from 2.99 to 3.07.
“I wish I could tell you how the service was during a major software outage, but that has never happened.”
The issues that MITSPlus had with their on-board computers is a thing of the past. Because our hardware is incredibly resilient and impervious to breakdowns, they never have to worry about a collapse of their software or hardware systems. TripSpark offers maintenance, training and updates for life on its software solutions.
“We are also very satisfied with the value we get for our money.”
From streamlining scheduling to bolstering communication between drivers and dispatch, the TripSpark demand response software solution has completely transformed MITS and MITSPlus.