How to Decrease Paratransit Costs Using Fleet Management Strategies.

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1 How to Decrease Paratransit Costs Using Fleet Management Strategies

2 1 Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) and Mobile Data Terminals (MDTs) are being used extensively in virtually any industry that employs a fleet of vehicles, and are especially valuable to paratransit organizations. The benefits of AVL/MDT technology combined with scheduling and routing software for paratransit agencies is clear: managers and office staff can use these technologies to improve on-time performance, streamline operations and reporting, and improve customer service. The information provided by using this combination of technologies helps managers make more efficient use of their resources; it also enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of paratransit operations. While these are all great benefits for any paratransit agency, scheduling software, even when combined with AVL/MDT technologies, only goes so far. Often overlooked is the effectiveness of fleet management technologies when applied to paratransit operations. A typical fleet management solution addresses not only vehicle location and status information, but goes further to increase driver and passenger safety, extend the life of each vehicle in the fleet, provide the ability to monitor and improve driver behavior, and decrease overall operating costs. An effective paratransit operation starts with scheduling and routing software and then moves beyond to include mobile data integration and fleet management. This white paper will discuss what a comprehensive paratransit fleet management solution includes, the benefits of implementing a fleet management solution, and provide guidance on how to select the right solution. Components of a complete paratransit fleet management solution The value of a fleet management solution lies in its ability to mitigate common challenges faced by fleet managers, while improving vehicle efficiency to reduce operating costs particularly important to government or publically-funded businesses like paratransit agencies. While many paratransit directors may not think of themselves as fleet managers, the nature of the business is such that this is an integral part of their responsibilities. There are a number of components that comprise a paratransit fleet management solution. Its basic form will consist of fleet management software in the office, a mobile computing and/or GPS device in the vehicle and a cellular connection that exchanges data between the two. A fleet management solution can also integrate with other systems such as maintenance software packages. Let s take a closer look at the different components of a fleet management solution and how they work together to lower operating costs.

3 2 Benefits of a Paratransit Fleet Management Solution Driver Behavior and Fuel Monitoring Reducing fuel costs is an important issue facing managers, but at the same time it is hard to track effectively. With fuel costs accounting for such a significant portion of fleet budgets, wasteful driving habits hinder fuel efficiency and finding ways of reducing consumption can make a big difference to the bottom line. A paratransit fleet management solution provides the ability to monitor driver behavior in order to track how much fuel is being wasted when drivers speed or idle unnecessarily. Fleet management systems are effective for minimizing wasteful driving habits. Having mobile data terminals (MDTs) in the vehicle reminds drivers that they are accountable at all times, which automatically translates into better driving habits. To manage idling costs, a fleet management solution can provide driver report cards so managers can create and enforce a fuel consumption policy and set boundaries around what constitutes acceptable idling. Incentive programs and a reward system for positive changes in driver behavior can go a long way towards lowering fuel costs. When evaluating a fleet management solution, a major urban paratransit agency used a test subset of their fleet, and reported 2.79 hours of idling per vehicle per day which was a cost of $6.96 for each vehicle each day. Additionally, when drivers exceeded their speed threshold by 32 mph it added a cost of $1.28 per gallon of gas to the agency s expenses. When extrapolated to the total fleet of 650 vehicles, this agency was potentially seeing $5,356 worth of fuel wasted per day. In addition to money saved on idling expenses, a paratransit fleet management solution can use vehicle telematic data to track information such as vehicle speed, instances of hard braking and acceleration, and even if drivers are wearing their seat belt or not. Aggressive driving behaviors, such as hard braking and unnecessary acceleration not only waste a considerable amount of fuel, but even more importantly, are a safety risk. Managers can set speed thresholds and be alerted in real-time when a driver exceeds the threshold. Fleet management technology allows effective monitoring of driver behavior and can provide managers with reports on who the top offenders are so they can identify at-risk drivers and implement and track training strategies to improve performance. Safety and Risk Management Paratransit agencies serve some of the most vulnerable members of society and as a result, need to ensure the safety of those who use this method of transportation service. Paratransit fleet management technology that helps monitor vehicle whereabouts and driver behavior goes a long way towards improving not only the safety of drivers, but of passengers as well. A solution which utilizes AVL lets managers know what drivers are doing and where they are. Throughout the day, drivers activities from logon to logoff, and even vehicle speed are automatically time-stamped and captured, and contact with the office is maintained. This data creates an historical record of driver/vehicle activity which allows agencies to easily access accurate details in the event of an incident or accident creating a clearer picture of what happened, and helps simplify complaint resolution and liability claims.

4 3 Maintenance and Vehicle Usage An additional key benefit of investing in a complete paratransit fleet management system is that it allows paratransit agencies to use the data being collected by their vehicles to improve maintenance programs. This lets agencies use and apply this data in a meaningful way to their operation. For instance, a paratransit fleet management solution collects a considerable amount of data from paratransit vehicles, and this diagnostic information can be used to ensure that vehicles are being serviced when they need it to avoid downtime and costly repairs. Scheduled vehicle maintenance can also be tracked and automated maintenance reminders can be generated for fleet maintenance personnel. This can ensure that vehicles are not being under or over-maintained, and wear and tear is reduced. With a paratransit fleet management solution that integrates vehicle diagnostic data, agencies can not only better manage the maintenance associated with their vehicles, but it also allows them to better adhere to maintenance schedules and make better use of their vehicles. Better Reporting A paratransit fleet management system provides managers with a full suite of reports, and best-in-class systems also give users the ability to design and create their own reports. Reports can be automatically processed and ed to the appropriate personnel on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to make sure all relevant parties always have the most up-to-date information. These reports allow managers to address all aspects of how the fleet is performing from vehicle usage and driver behavior, to vehicle maintenance and lifespan providing a transparent view into operations that is not possible when an agency only has typical scheduling/routing software. Selecting the Right Solution Now that the technology and some of the expected benefits of a paratransit fleet management solution have been covered, the next step is to look at how to approach selecting the right solution for an agency s needs. Success can hinge on selecting the right technology partner that has the experience to manage all of the various aspects associated with this type of solution. Identify Short- and Long-Term Goals As with any technology investment, it is important to have a plan for evaluating and implementing a paratransit fleet management solution. Identify short-term and long-term goals, and priorities first for acquiring a system, then for implementation. A common mistake that organizations make during this process is choosing technology instead of a solution. Set aside a list of key functionalities that you need to achieve success and then evaluate the ability of different technology solutions to meet these requirements. Once you have your system in place, the amount of data you can access can be overwhelming. Identifying a few, key measurable goals you want to achieve at the beginning of the deployment will help to avoid information overload and provide areas of focus.

5 4 Ensure the Solution Supports Future Growth When selecting a solution, it is easy to forget about the future and what technology needs will be down the line. Keep in mind that paratransit fleet management solutions need to be scalable in case greatly increased demand for services or other factors affect the size of the fleet. When choosing mobile devices, don t select one based only on your current needs. Choose devices that will grow with your operation and seek out a vendor that will help you with that growth. Implement a Change Management Plan Securing widespread buy-in for new technology can be one of the most challenging aspects of implementing a system. Employing a change management plan helps the organization make this transition a success. To ensure widespread acceptance of the system it is important to underscore how the technology will improve the agency s bottom line, increasing job security for employees, and keep drivers and passengers safer. Also, involving end-users throughout the decision-making process makes them feel more engaged and connected to the process. Consider providing driver behavior training programs that focus on rewarding good driver behavior rather than punishing negative behavior. Good drivers will embrace the system as it highlights their good performance and poor performers will have incentive to improve. Conclusion In this era of decreasing funding and tight budgets, fleet management technologies are fast becoming a necessity to operate a more efficient paratransit fleet and decrease costs. While there is a lot of value in scheduling and routing software from making scheduling and dispatching easier, to improved data management realizing true efficiency requires a paratransit fleet management solution. As the most effective way to manage a vehicle-based workforce, a paratransit fleet management solution can be tailored to an agency s service needs and integrated with existing infrastructure to provide insight and clarity into operations that extend beyond what typical scheduling and routing products are capable of providing for agencies.

6 5 Trapeze Fleet A Complete Paratransit Fleet Management Solution Trapeze Fleet is a fleet management software suite that provides an effective way to address the challenges of a paratransit operation. Fleet manages costly yet avoidable driver behavior such as excessive speed and idling, tracks fleet maintenance, and provides managers a transparent view of operations with powerful reporting tools. Trapeze Fleet is web-based software which allows for minimal deployment costs and can be integrated seamlessly with Trapeze Ranger MDCs, to further streamline operations by capturing vehicle speed and idling data as well as facilitating invehicle navigation and electronic manifests. With Trapeze Fleet, you can easily get answers to these common yet important questions: Where Are My Vehicles? View the current location of all the vehicles in your paratransit fleet on a real-time map. Know at a glance where your vehicles are and what they are doing. Where Were My Vehicles? With Vehicle History, users can see where a vehicle was at any given time in the past or see any vehicles that passed through a particular place. This is useful when resolving complaints involving your company vehicles or for determining liability. What Are My Drivers Doing? Quickly monitor driver behavior with a fleet management dashboard that has widgets for idling, speeding and vehicle usage, indicating who the top offenders are. Trapeze Fleet supports real-time notifications and can send an exactly when a policy violation occurs. How Is My Paratransit Fleet Performing? Trapeze Fleet includes a full suite of pre-made reports, but also gives users the ability to design and create their own reports if desired. Fleet can automatically process and reports to the appropriate personnel on a daily, weekly or monthly basis When Do My Vehicles Need Servicing? Easily set maintenance reminders for the vehicles in your fleet. This can be used by fleet managers or maintenance personnel to schedule activities such as oil changes and tire rotations. Reminders are set and a visual notification is provided when a maintenance item is approaching.

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