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Thoughts on Transit

Transit Scheduling Software and the "Big Brother" Mentality

by Ecolane / May 19, 2016

The transportation industry is one of constant change, and over the years, transit agencies have adopted new innovations and technologies in an effort to better serve their communities and keep pace with market demands. With that said, among the latest and greatest in transit innovation is the development of transportation scheduling software.

Designed with the goal of delivering increased productivity, efficiency, customer satisfaction, and safety, transportation scheduling software has transformed the operational capabilities of transit agencies worldwide. With a scheduling and dispatching platform that allows managers and directors to leverage:

  • Real-time reporting that responds to route changes immediately
  • Comprehensive reporting that enables improved forecasting and planning, while enhancing the quality of operations
  • Minimized call times
  • Improved support quality
  • Vehicle location technology
  • Driver behavior tracking (including driver speeds)
  • Audible notifications
  • An automatically updated, detailed manifest

Transit agencies are able to streamline day-to-day operations as well as create a more cohesive work environment between dispatchers and drivers.

The Misconception

If you’re familiar with George Orwell’s novel, 1984, than you are likely familiar with the fictional character, Big Brother. Big Brother is the apparent leader of Oceania, a totalitarian state where the ruling party possesses total control over its people. As described in the novel, all citizens of Oceania are under constant surveillance by authorities and are continually presented with the reminder ‘Big Brother is watching you’.

It may come as a bit of a surprise, but this is exactly how some drivers feel about the increasing popularity of transportation scheduling software. Although the benefits are seemingly endless from an operational standpoint, there are quite a few drivers who can’t help but feel that someone, like Big Brother, is constantly watching their every move.

In fact, many drivers feel like the only reason their agency has chosen to adopt scheduling software is to monitor their behavior and catch them doing something wrong. For example, if a driver were to take too long of a break, scheduling software would alert their supervisor which could lead to the driver being reprimanded; ultimately eliminating any sense of independence and trust that driver may have previously had.

To some this may sound like somewhat of a far-fetched theory, but to the drivers directly affected by its capabilities, scheduling software can seem more like a micromanagement tool than a helpful resource used to make their job easier.

The Reality

Now, without completely disregarding the feelings and concerns of these drivers, we’re here to set the record straight about transportation scheduling software and the real reason why so many transit agencies are adopting it.

Contrary to the belief that scheduling software is used solely to micromanage drivers, it’s intended purpose is actually to create an easier, more efficient, and more productive work environment for drivers, dispatchers, and managers alike. Rather than wasting time with inefficient communication and reporting processes, scheduling software enables drivers to access:

  • Real-time data communication such as reported arrivals, departures, no-shows, and collected fares with AVL and time information
  • Manifest stop listing that includes Point of Interest (POI), detailed trip information, geo and time fencing for each stop, fare entry tracking, and editing
  • Real-time messaging that allows dispatchers and drivers to send and receive messages regarding updates to routes, safety concerns, and unforeseen situations
  • Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) that provides turn-by-turn directions, GPS location, odometer and mileage tracking

So, although it may seem like scheduling software is an overbearing management tool, it is in fact just the opposite. Not only does it provide managers and directors with insight into transit operations, but more importantly, it helps drivers immensely in the completion of daily tasks that would otherwise be very time-consuming.

Ecolane Shoreline Metro Case Study

 

Tags: Demand Response Software

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