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Mentor equips Central Texas paratransit service with ITS

Posted on December 16, 2009

[IMAGE]Mentor-interior-full.jpg[/IMAGE]The Central Texas-based Hill County Transit District's HOP service provides both fixed-route and paratransit services, and has been using an Intelligent Transit System (ITS) supplied by Mentor Engineering for a little over a year. Since switching from time consuming and error-prone manual processes to ITS, the HOP has been able to improve its operational efficiencies.

“We’ve seen the greatest benefit in terms of scheduling,” comments Luis Pino, technology manager at The HOP. “What used to take all day for our schedulers is now done in a fraction of the time.”

Instead of manually entering information into Excel spreadsheets, schedulers can now use Streets Transit to efficiently create and manage schedules. The software automatically validates the information entered to ensure the schedule is correct and adjusts to reflect any changes made.

“Route planning for our fixed-route service is also much faster,” says Pino. “We don’t have to physically drive the route and manually count passengers to determine which bus stops need to be added or eliminated. All that information is instantly available to us. We have more data and more data accuracy, which gives us the ability to operate more efficient routes and runs. This increased efficiency has allowed us to add runs without increasing the number of drivers.”

The system also gives dispatchers the ability to see the exact location of all the vehicles under their care so they can quickly send the closest available driver to a new trip. Says Pino: “Dispatchers love the onscreen map. They simply hover their mouse over a bus icon to see the bus’ status, such as whether it’s early or late.”

According to Pino, an unexpected benefit of the system is the use of historical data to verify a vehicle’s speed if the driver receives a speeding ticket, as well as verifying accident details. In one instance, a bus was accused of a hit and run. The HOP used Streets to see where that bus was at the time of the incident and confirmed that it was running late and was not at the accident location. After giving that record to the insurance company, it was the last The HOP heard of it.

The system includes the Mentor Streets Transit ITS solution and in-vehicle Mentor Ranger computers, which are integrated with Trapeze software to deliver computer-aided dispatch/automatic vehicle location (CAD/AVL), schedule/route adherence monitoring, real-time messaging and reporting applications.

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