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RouteMatch reduces costs for Miss. paratransit

Posted on March 19, 2012

Gulfport, Miss.-based Coast Transit Authority has generated significant efficiencies and cost savings by using RouteMatch's passenger and vehicle transportation management technologies. The company's technologies have also been applied by Coast Transit Authority for effective emergency preparation and disaster preparedness in Harrison County, Miss.

Since implementing the software's scheduling, routing and dispatching technologies for its paratransit services, Coast Transit Authority has been able to achieve:

•    15% reduction in costs associated with fuel consumption, operations, and staff time.

•    65% reduction in customer complaints.

•    25% reduction in empty vehicles on the road.

•    5% increase in passenger pick-ups or ridership.

•    Savings of $17,000 in administrative cost yearly due to move to paperless environment.

Situated in an active hurricane zone, Coast Transit Authority serves Jackson, Harrison and Hancock counties. After Hurricane Katrina impacted the community in 2005, the transit system's management team was faced with a daunting challenge. The transit agency found that many members of the gulf community who historically resided along the coast decided to move further afield to avoid severe weather conditions. This sudden relocation resulted in a greater distance (two miles) between passenger pick-up points.

Passenger scheduling and pick-ups became harder to manage, and fuel consumption and costs swelled. Coast Transit Authority had little visibility into route planning and where the vehicles were located at any given time, which resulted in duplicate routes and inefficient service.

Concerned, the transit system's management team, board members, and staff knew that they needed prompt change and began an extensive search for an ITS technology partner to not only automate scheduling and dispatching, but also work with the transit agency through its evolving operational and ridership needs. The transit agency serves a diverse community of retirees, military personnel from two military bases, Biloxi (a major casino and tourist destination), Gulfport, commuters, and university students. With a 10% year over year increase in ridership demand, it was important for the agency to "stay ahead" of changes and influxes.

Like many transit agencies across the U.S., the transit agency's supervisor, dispatchers and 16 drivers had been using pen and paper, faxes and two-way radios to create and update passenger manifests and schedule routes and pick-ups. This took 10 hours of staff time a week, and resulted in $6,630 in annual administrative costs. Coast Transit Authority turned to RouteMatch Software, implementing core scheduling, automating and dispatching functions and in-vehicle mobile data devices for real-time tracking of vehicles and driver communications.

Coast Transit Authority has been able to extend RouteMatch's flexible platform to serve as the technology and coordination foundation for Harrison County Emergency Management Agency. The transit agency works closely with Harrison County Emergency Management Agency and utilizes RouteMatch's data management tools to input and maintain a pre-registration list for disabled citizens or citizens who are at risk and need emergency evacuation during hurricanes or other emergency situations.

By geo-coding evacuation locations and easily creating evacuation routes and run paths through RouteMatch's configurable software with point and clicks, Coast Transit Authority is prepared to quickly shift vehicles already in the field to "immediate evacuation mode" by locating each vehicle and communicating through mobile data devices, enabling faster and more efficient service to citizens.

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