Demand responsive transit optimization through modern software and an expert team can help to improve critical transit metrics and avoid operational inefficiency for many transit agencies across the country. The most effective way to leverage modern technology is to work with the software provider to troubleshoot any issues or forecast common problems and frequently asked questions that may arise. This blog offers insight into how Ecolane's expert professional services team can solve problems and what common issues and questions generally come up with regards to route scheduling software.
Questions Seen During the Evaluation Process
The first thing that many agencies do before implementing modern software is to evaluate potential software providers. This process generally includes a demo of the software with questions to follow. The expert team at Ecolane has outlined a list of common questions that are asked during the evaluation process. That list of questions and the answers to those questions are as follows;
Q: My drivers currently do not use Tablets inside their vehicles, how will they manage the change?
A: Many times agencies have little or no prior experience with Mobile Data Tablets (MDT’s). Change management is an important focus when introducing new processes to staff. This step cannot be underestimated. In Ecolane’s case, a dedicated training team works closely with agency drivers in a classroom training environment to ensure that they are proficient with the hardware before being back out on the road.
Q: Are there other agencies that have Ecolane around me?
A: It’s comforting to know there are many agencies in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and other states across the country that are already using Ecolane software successfully. Ecolane is expanding the use of our product to rural and urban areas in every state across the nation. Ecolane can provide a list of active sites and business references for prospective customers or, alternatively, check out some of our case studies.
Q: Does Ecolane offer 24/7 customer support?
A: You can reach our customer support team by calling the USA head office in Wayne, PA during business hours and after hours we have customer service representatives standing by so that when you call, you will be talking to an actual Ecolane expert. We also have an online ticketing process where you can submit, track, and watch the progress of your support ticket.
Q: What is the advantage of a web-based platform?
A: While there are many advantages to a web-based platform, ultimately the web allows all users to see the exact same information. Viewing reports seems like a straightforward issue but some organizations rely on a client server environment to report data and there are inherent challenges with that approach. As an example, data can sometimes be pointed to an incorrect location on a local machine or certain parameters in a windows application can vary from user to user.
Questions Seen From Customers After Implementation
Many of the common questions and issues that are fielded by the Ecolane team can effect critical transit metrics and operational inefficiencies. Learning how to leverage the full functionality of the software and learning how to use the data to forecast future planning and metrics are also common themes. However, most agencies are either troubleshooting a problem with the software or seeking help to understand how to better utilize the software. Some examples of these frequently asked questions are listed below.
- "I have a vehicle breakdown, what do I do?" This question is typically seen when someone is standing in for a dispatcher and doesn’t know the process.
- "We have a snow delay, how do we shift all of our Senior and School trips back 2 hours?"
- "Location 'X' is closed for the upcoming holiday, how do we cancel all their trips?"
- "We just canceled/completed all of our trips for a future date, but it was the wrong date, what do we do?"
- "We have a fare change that needs to take effect on the first of next month, what do we need to do?"
Some of these questions can be answered by the Ecolane team simply walking through a feature of the route optimization software such as assigning run availability to a spare run, and closing the run availability for the breakdown vehicle if you are dealing with a vehicle breakdown or working step by step through the trip shifting tool, and showing how to check for newly created scheduling conflicts as a result of a delay. Ecolane also assists in cleaning up the archive/reporting trips to reflect the correct information after changes have been made to any trip data. When dealing with an issue related to fare changes, the agency needs to deliver a documented list of the fare change and the date/time it becomes effective. Once that happens, the Ecolane team ensures that the appropriate bill codes, funding sources, future trips, subscriptions and archive/reporting trips are configured on the date needed.
Other questions are queried based off of the need to re-train staff or train new staff members on how to properly leverage the software. Many of these questions tend to come up soon after implementation as directors and managers start to dive deeper into the software and train their team.
The Ecolane professional services team preaches to managers to reach out with any questions that they have immediately. The sooner that action is taken, the easier it becomes to make a change. The amount of data that managers receive allows them to really dive into the system to find out what exactly happens when they field complaints. With real-time data and optimization, they are able to see immediate transformative change. Every agency is different and each GM has different concerns. This can change from location to location and even manager to manager.
If you are interested in demand response route optimization software but don't know where to start with choosing the right software provider, download our "Choosing Your Transit Software Provider" eBook.