Muncie Indiana Transit (MITS) – Paratransit Software Case Study

The Challenge

Old on-board computers weren’t working and paper manifests caused scheduling errors and driver dissatisfaction.

The Solution

TripSpark Mobile Data Terminals and specifically designed demand response software.

The Result

Satisfied drivers and passengers + a rise in passengers per hour.

About MITS

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.

The Problem / Challenge

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 problem. As a result, some consoles were no longer used or ceased to function altogether. This led dispatchers and drivers to resort to using paper manifests for their scheduling requirements. The size and scope of their service made this an incredibly inefficient system, leading to overall dissatisfaction among drivers. Not surprisingly, the trickle-down effect started to impact the quality of service to riders.

The problem with using paper manifests and communicating via radio is that information is slow in getting to those who need it. MITSPlus drivers would receive schedule changes and assignments far 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 confusion, errors, and radio congestion.

Demand Response Software Solution

Upon deployment, TripSpark’s paratransit software solution immediately helped to relieve the stress involved with fielding calls and dispatching vehicles. However, the full power of the solution was realized when MITSPlus installed MDTs into their vehicles. The workload and stress heaped upon drivers who had been forced to use paper manifests, suddenly vanished. The MDTs helped drivers stay on schedule and become totally in synch with dispatch. Notifications and even personal messages sent to the MDT screens, effectively reduced radio congestion. With total synchronization of data, the dispatcher’s schedule was accessible to drivers as well. The web-enabled abilities of TripSpark demand response solutions allowed dispatchers the flexibility of working from home. And with less confusion when it came to last minute calls and re-routes, drivers were able to focus entirely on the needs of their riders and their job of providing safe and reliable service.

“I never want to go back to using a paper manifest again.” MITSPlus Driver

The Result

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. The work put into simply maintaining a schedule, is now focused on other areas of customer service. Because of the reduction in last-minute call confusion, driver satisfaction has also increased. MITS’ paratransit service has improved to the point that 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 in-vehicle technology is a thing of the past. The new hardware is incredibly resilient and impervious to breakdowns, and they won’t to worry about a collapse of their software or hardware systems. With TripSpark’s maintenance, training, and updates for life on their software solutions, MITS’ worries are a thing of the past.

“We are 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.