With COVID-19 basically canceling the trade show and awards season, METRO Magazine decided to honor our 2020 Innovative Solutions Award winners here in print.
Now in its sixth year, the Innovative Solutions Awards honors bus operations and their supplier partners who have implemented initiatives that helped them save money, run more efficiently, streamline operations, increase safety, improve customer satisfaction, increase ridership, and more. This year, we categorized our winners into six categories: Technology, Safety, Passenger Experience, Operations, Clean Tech, and Mobility.
METRO’s staff would like to thank everybody who applied in what was one of the most competitive years in recent memory and congratulates all our winners. And now, a look at our Innovative Solutions Award honorees.
To comply with new CDC and other health and safety guidelines implemented amid the pandemic, Bustang, which is operated by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and All Aboard America Holdings Inc., is utilizing Betterez Canada Inc.’s reservation and ticketing platform. Using the “Flexible Reservations” feature, Bustang enabled customers to essentially pre-book a trip, but maintain the flexibility of changing their plans and board any bus based on capacity. By doing so, Bustang is now able to monitor and manage capacity in real time to ensure social distancing is adhered to on all buses and deploy additional assets as needed during peak times. And by allowing riders to select a trip and seat ahead of time, Bustang gives passengers the confidence they will have a socially distanced place to sit and relax on their commute.
According to Mike Van Horn, Sr. VP at Betterez, the biggest innovation in this initiative is CDOT’s willingness to communicate and promote a new business process to their riders.
“In transit, most tickets are open-ended and pass- or transit card-based. But this does not lend itself to managing a bus’s capacity to, for example, 50% for social distancing,” he explains. “Thus, CDOT and Bustang have asked their riders to change their behavior for the benefit of all stakeholders — the transit agency, the bus operators, and their fellow passengers.”
Van Horn continues that the technology innovation comes in the ease of set up, administration, and rider usage of Betterez’ modern reservations and ticketing platform, as well as the future integration of Betterez into other transit applications to continue to improve the rider experience and drive internal agency and bus operator efficiencies.
“Benefits for Bustang include providing safety information for passengers who need to know what their individual and CDOT’s responsibility is when riding the bus,” says Bob Wilson, CDOT’s statewide communications manager. “Ridebustang.com also provides a slew of information regarding what CDOT and Ace Express are specifically doing to maintain a safe riding environment, especially for those who may be apprehensive to get on-board. By getting more people to return, or first timers, to ride Bustang, we’re reducing traffic on some of most heavily-traveled corridors in Colorado, especially now that traffic is nearly back to pre-COVID levels in most areas of the state.”