Think about what you see on the road today: taxis, buses, bikes, personal vehicles, and ride-shares all power today’s complex transportation landscape. So much has changed since railroads and buggies, but one thing holds steady: Americans still rely heavily on transit services. Explore four transportation issues that trickle down to the transit and paratransit levels and how the right software can help.
1. High Fuel Costs
“Pain at the pump” seemed to be a universal struggle last year. That’s because inflation sent gas prices soaring to an average of $5 a gallon for regular gas last June. And while the biggest increases have subsided, higher gas prices are prompting more workers to stay remote or opt for transit instead.
Save money by taking transit.
The move to transit and paratransit makes sense for workers. After all, subway, rail, and bus prices aren’t going up as drastically as gas, making transit more economical. It’s especially cost-effective for hourly and minimum-wage workers—many of whom haven’t seen a pay rise in more than 15 years—who would spend a day’s pay for gas if they drove themselves.
But you can save on your side of the fence too. Ecolane delivers an average 44% boost in operational efficiency for agencies like yours. By streamlining your operations, it’s easier to save on fuel.
2. Driver Shortages
Unfortunately, it’s getting harder and harder to maintain a team of drivers. The number of available bus drivers is declining due to a combination of forces, ranging from retirements to recruitment and retention struggles.
A survey from the American Public Transportation Association puts this into perspective, revealing that 71 percent of transit agencies surveyed said they’ve had to cut or delay service because of worker shortages. There are also 200,000 current job vacancies. As Chris Van Eyken, author of a report for TransitCenter, put it in an interview, this is because “there’s just not enough younger workers to replace certain functions, and that’s hit the transit industry very much—especially in the operator position.” Getting a younger workforce established has proven difficult. According to the report, the average American transit operator is nearly 53 years old—more than a decade older than the average worker.
Make transit jobs more appealing.
There must be a way to strengthen your workforce, and, in fact, the right tech is a good starting point. Agencies can attract and retain workers by putting tools in place that make their jobs more efficient.
Routing and scheduling software from Ecolane makes all the difference. With it, agencies like yours can replace manual entry and hard copy manifests, and drivers can leverage their onboard tablets for continuous updates and GPS technology. In fact, the real-time software improves your transit and paratransit services holistically, reducing missed pickups and loss in service quality and improving customer retention.
3. Operator Burnout
Being a driver involves more than going from Point A to Point B. Drivers must manage multiple priorities, balancing road safety, passenger comfort, and rider needs. That might mean navigating a construction area or assisting a paratransit rider, but the compounding stress could lead to burnout.
Ecolane’s software streamlines operations.
Transit software eases the burdens of keeping your agency and its services moving. By taking advantage of best-in-class features, drivers and operational staff get a helping hand to prevent burnout. Ecolane provides support with features to simplify:
Pre- and Post-Trip Inspections
By automating your agency’s inspection process, it’s easier to stay in compliance with safety requirements. Ecolane enables drivers to perform a paperless inspection at the beginning of the day before departure and at the end of the day before shutdown. Our software allows you to customize your inspection requirements and corresponding menu options, plus each vehicle’s mobile data tablet streamlines your multipoint post-trip inspections.
Mobile App Scheduling
Having a phone that rings off the hook is time-consuming for your agency, and being on the other end on hold is equally frustrating for riders. But with a mobile app, riders can book their trips independently, decreasing call volume and eliminating manual scheduling. Ecolane’s mobile app also sends push notifications to remind riders of trips, reducing no-shows, same-day cancellations, and stresses for drivers.
Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) and GPS
Your agency also needs to know where every transit and paratransit vehicle is at all times to best assist drivers and provide quality service. Ecolane tracks location with AVL and GPS, so there’s never any confusion about what’s happening on the road. Schedulers and dispatchers can track and monitor any vehicle to obtain details about:
- Real-time vehicle location
- Where a vehicle is headed
- Drop-off and pickup times
Additionally, because accidents, detours, and traffic backups can impact service, these tools give agencies the means to coordinate if a driver needs to switch gears and get turn-by-turn directions.
4. Operational Costs and Capital Expenditures
Do you understand your transit and paratransit demand? Tech tools such as software from Ecolane can help your agency deliver service at the right time and in the right way—and at the right price—to get the most out of your fleets.
Maximize fleet usage.
Agencies need to understand what their communities need. Ecolane helps agencies optimize demand-based fleets in ways that help you save. Part of this involves balancing third-party providers and owned vehicles, enabling you to meet demand with third-party help and lower expenses for buying vehicles or hiring. The other piece goes back to manual scheduling, which is usually too cost-prohibitive in the long term if you have more than five or six vehicles.
Power Up Your Paratransit
While smooth sailing is always your agency’s goal, various factors can impact your efficiency—from fuel costs to driver shortages. The good news is that with the right software solutions, you can bypass potential roadblocks and perform even better. Ecolane provides tools to help your transit and paratransit operations from the inside out. Lower your costs, retain labor, and provide better customer service in one platform.
Want to see how it works? Check out our guide to microtransit and see how Ecolane can help your agency.
About the Author
Read Ecolane's blog articles for perspective, opinion and information on transit and paratransit issues.