Dispatchers play a critical role in ensuring the success of a transit system. On any given week they may be juggling maintenance scheduling, parking, pulling NTD reporting for funding, scheduling routes, answering rider phone calls, troubleshooting hardware issues, and figuring out last minute changes when a driver calls out sick.
Small margins = Time to iterate
Gone are the days of on-call drivers waiting around in break rooms. If one driver calls out sick, agencies don’t have back-ups to fulfill the need. In some cases, dispatchers themselves are getting licenses and driving routes, in addition to their other responsibilities. If the driver shortage can’t be temporarily covered for, cuts are made to routes, therefore impacting service frequency. Many agencies have replaced some of their fixed routes with on-demand services since driving smaller vehicles does not require a special license.
Agencies are challenged with daily operational changes. The larger the agency the more of a domino effect one change can have. With complex interlining schedules one bus could be on eight different routes throughout the day. If that bus breaks down or the driver calls out sick, the dispatcher has to make immediate changes to numerous routes.
Technology is more complex
With the available hardware options to improve service data and the rider experience, systems are more complex. It’s no longer just one GPS device – one bus in a fleet may have five different pieces of hardware on it. With funding constraints and the rapid speed that technology changes, many agencies have older hardware devices. Dispatchers have to function as IT support when any of these devices break down to troubleshoot and try to limit impact on services for riders. Dispatch software makes these complexities simple by offering transit providers a holistic view of their day-to-day operations.
Communicating with riders
Since changes are happening so frequently, rider communication is more important than ever. Riders need to know if their stop won’t be coming today or if the route they are accustomed to taking has been consolidated. Real-time communication within the app or through push notifications is expected to mitigate confusion and frustration caused by last minute changes. If riders don’t get the information they need, they call into the agency and likely it is the dispatcher who is answering those calls.
Solving old problems in new ways
With limited resources, technological advancements, and real-time communication for riders being a necessity, dispatchers are faced with solving ongoing transit challenges in new ways. But, they’re not alone – we understand their challenges and can help. Our ecosystem of intelligent mobility solutions can ease the burden of day-to-day operations. We give you the tools to address those challenges with accurate and reliable data. So you can spend less time monitoring operations and more time developing solutions.