Valparaiso, Ind.’s Porter County Aging & Community Services (PCACS) provides a demand-responsive paratransit service across Porter County. With the service population growing to include senior residents and people with disabilities, PCACS was experiencing high demand for their paratransit mobility services. However, with reliance on manual intervention and poor productivity, the organization could not keep up with the increase in demand using their existing legacy software.
In searching for replacement software, PCACS identified on-demand transit technology as an innovative solution that could help improve productivity to accommodate the service’s increasing ridership. Enter RideCo, which now enables PCACS to offer a more productive door-to-door service that provides a convenient and seamless rider experience for registered users across the county.
The system allows riders to book a trip on demand, up to two weeks in advance, or with convenient subscription bookings. Previously, riders were required to book their trips at least three days in advance. Upon booking their trip, riders are also provided with pickup and drop off times that have an average nine-minute pickup wait time and an average 92%-plus on-time performance. To book their trips, riders have increased flexible booking options: the PCACS app, website, or call center.
“PCACS partnered with RideCo when they were searching for a solution to replace their existing legacy platform,” says RideCo’s Joshua Lorentz, sr. project manager for the PCACS program. “With the challenge of finding a more efficient and productive platform that could accommodate the community’s increased demand for the transportation service, RideCo proved to be a great fit with its innovative on-demand transit technology and solutions.”
Increasing Mobility, On-Time Performance
From December 2021 to March 2022, 33% of trips were booked by riders through the app or website. From an operations perspective, autonomous booking through the platform requires less manual intervention, which enables more efficient allocation of PCACS resources, including toward customer service. The autonomy and improvement in customer service has contributed to PCACS’ outstanding average 4.9/5 trip rating record.
Powering RideCo’s on-demand transit platform is an advanced routing algorithm called Solver. The patented algorithm analyzes all trips currently booked within the system and executes an optimization every 20 to 30 seconds to ensure the most efficient ride and route combinations — all while adhering to the PCACS service parameters and every riders’ guaranteed pickup time.
Due to its continuous optimization, RideCo’s platform is dynamic and incredibly responsive to real-time vehicle locations and changing traffic conditions. As a result, PCACS saw an increase in productivity with 35% shared rides and delivered 28% more rides within the first three months of launching the service with RideCo.
With the steady increase in productivity and passengers per vehicle hour, cost per passenger was also reduced by 22% in 2021 when compared to the previous year.
“We currently provide about 1,200 rides per month. That number is low because we do not have a full staff of drivers,” says Bruce Lindner, executive director at PCACS. “For the most part, feedback has been very good. A lot of riders use the app on their phone to respond after every ride which is very helpful.”
During a time when the industry is re-evaluating its approach to providing mobility, PCACS, a small human services agency in Indiana, is one of the industry leaders in exploring innovative solutions such as on-demand transit. It is through this alternative service delivery model and PCACS’ partnership with RideCo, the agency has been able to accommodate the community’s increased demand for the paratransit service — an outcome that would not have been possible using its existing legacy software.