Title

HOW EFFECTIVE IS COMPUTER-ASSISTED SCHEDULING AND DISPATCHING IN PARATRANSIT? RESULTS FROM A SURVEY

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

2001

Subject Area

operations - scheduling, planning - surveys, organisation - management, mode - mass transit, mode - paratransit

Keywords

Transit operating agencies, Transit lines, Training, Surveys, Scheduling, Regulatory policy, Public transit lines, Project management, Policy, Policies, Personnel training, Personnel, Paratransit services, Officials and employees, Mass transit lines, Implementation, Hardware (Computers), Government policy, Electronic computers, Dispatching, Dial a ride, Computers, Budgets, Budgeting, Budget estimates

Abstract

Although numerous computer-assisted scheduling and dispatching (CASD) systems have been implemented, few implementation processes have been observed and methodically described. Relevant experience is documented through a survey of paratransit operators across the United States, providing insights into the processes used, problems encountered, and benefits and costs experienced in implementing CASD systems. One-half of paratransit operators do not use the major features of their new CASD system. Operators have noted gains in efficiency, effectiveness, and quality, with some reporting significant changes, but on the whole, pre- and postimplementation comparisons do not show the kind of dramatic efficiency changes for which operators have hoped. Moreover, training efforts are likely to become a lightning rod for discontent as the staff makes a transition to the new system, and management should make every effort to ensure that funding and time are allocated for training as early as possible. Also, the implementation budget should include funds for the development of custom reports and separate, focused training for management. Further, operators strongly favor adding a dedicated project manager to the CASD system implementation process. Finally, both policy and personnel issues limit full implementation of CASD systems. As long as agencies restrict use of their vehicles to certain groups of passengers, optimization algorithms cannot reduce vehicle usage. And as long as training and attitudes do not match needs, personnel problems will persist.