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Thoughts on Transit

The Age of the Transit Rider: How Agencies Can Respond Effectively

by Ecolane / February 20, 2017

With rising demands from an influx of new riders and technological advances, being agile and responsive is no easy task in the paratransit industry. Under pressure from changing demographics, financial challenges, and a need for new technology, paratransit agencies will have to adapt and create a quality experience for riders. In this environment, the riders will dictate changes and shape the future of paratransit. By leveraging modern paratransit software, agencies will be able to make major changes to operational efficiency and effectiveness.

New technology

With more and more people using public transportation and paratransit services, it is vital to the success of any agency to keep up efficiently and effectively. Implementing modern demand response scheduling and dispatch software can make that a reality by standardizing the scheduling process and boosting operational efficiency. With Ecolane DRT software, Shoreline Metro in Sheboygan, WI, was able to increase hourly ridership by 43%. Not only were they able to adapt to an influx of riders, they were able to do it with fewer vehicles on the road. Having the right technology can help an agency stay with these trends in a customer-centric environment. By putting an intelligent interface in the hands of the drivers, they are able to focus on safety and customer service first. Having the ability to focus more on customer needs and the rider experience has created a better experience for current riders which has attracted new riders. This change in perspective is ultimately the reason for an increase in ridership.

More and more people are becoming tapped into the tech world. Smartphones with millions of apps available aren't strictly being used by the millennial crowd. This is a benefit to agencies that take advantage of modern transit software and is a burden for those that don't. When looking at no-show rates, it is clear to see that having an adaptable and agile web-based platform can make a major difference. Utilizing different features like automated scheduling and route updates through SMS messaging will help any agency stay in contact with customers and avoid any surprises. Agencies that adopt these modern communication strategies with new technology have seen a major decrease in no-show rates and in many cases a boost in on-time performance. 

Expanding Services and Partnerships

Paratransit agencies have a unique opportunity to move into different sectors of the industry fairly uninhibited. With the need for paratransit services expanding it is important to have the open mind to expanding with those needs. For example, providing service to other disabled riders when you have primarily focused on the elderly community can open up more business opportunities. Although changing to a new business model can seem daunting, opening up this service to a new group of people is a major opportunity for paratransit agencies to stay ahead of the game by increasing ridership and profitability. 

There has been a new trend in the paratransit industry with the emerging ride-sharing industry making such a  major impact. Many agencies are turning to partnerships with companies like Uber and Lyft to keep up with the challenging increase in demand and demographics changes. With the added capacity of a partnership, agencies are able to handle a larger number of riders and a larger frequency of rider per day. 

The effects that next-generation paratransit software and creative business ideas can have on agencies across the country are very easy to see. What isn't easy to see and at times can be extremely unpredictable are the trends that will shape the future of the paratransit industry. To learn more about where the paratransit industry is going and how modern software can help combat the ever-changing demographic and financial challenges that agencies will need to overcome, download and read the "Paratransit 2020" eBook. 

Paratransit 2020

Tags: Transit Trends Transit Operations

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