5 Steps to ‘Total Transport’The Trapeze Team | August 27, 2015
The recent trend towards creating integrated and collaborative transport models – by which we mean the effective and efficient pooling of transport resources – has been typified by the recent government-led ‘Total Transport Pilot Fund’. This concept is by no means new, as PTEG reported in 2011 that “there has never been a better time for agencies across [transport] sectors to get together to pool resources and expertise […] focusing on the pooling of vehicle fleets and budgets as a practical, tangible way forward.”
While there has been a long-standing recognition in the transport industry that it makes sense to coordinate and integrate transport services wherever possible, the key challenge to doing so was often establishing the most practical way to go about it. With that in mind, we have compiled 5 steps we believe to be important when looking to join the ‘Total Transport’ agenda…
1. Engage your stakeholders
Online technology and the integration of IT systems will play a vital role in supporting any move to implement a ‘Total Transport’ strategy. Crucially, this provides an effective means of engaging your stakeholders – such as transport commissioners of Ambulance Service Trusts and Community Transport, for example. And also, possibly, third sector organisations and other local authorities.
We’ve seen how some organisations, such as Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), are able to use modern technology to engage their stakeholders and move towards an integrated, joined-up way of working. The organisation do this via a hosting platform, which enables local community transport operators to work together in one system.
This is important in the move towards achieving total transport, because it provides a means of collaborative working between different organisations. By using an integrated system – the organisations can streamline their services while also engaging effectively with one another, while they will also reap the benefits of being able to not only integrate their services but their databases, IT systems, and so on.
2. Receive early ROI by identifying your target area
When researching potential transport integration targets it can prove prudent to first choose a small, specific pilot area to test the water, so to speak. By establishing a pilot project, you are able to minimise risk and assess quickly whether critical success factors can be met.
This approach will help to iron out potential challenges, and can help to provide valuable lessons and insight that can be brought to bear when fully implementing more widespread integration changes. What is more, we have seen first-hand of how an initial pilot can yield significant dividends and return on investment that far outweigh any upfront costs in technology. This can only strengthen support for investment on your journey to Total Transport!
The potential to receive early ROI is of course vital, because it provides the momentum for future large scale projects, since the value of such schemes can be proven quickly and thus eliminates concerns over ROI and wasted resources.
3. Consider ways to integrate data and information
Before moving towards full integration of transport vehicles and resources, an important step is to consider ways in which you can access transport information from disparate data sources.
First of all, think about how the data – often stored in different databases - can be combined. This needn’t take long; in fact, it can be a quick and pain free exercise!
For example, at the ATCO 2015 conference in Norwich, David Boden at East Riding of Yorkshire Council discussed how he used mapping tools such as ESRI to create transport network overlaps. This provided a holistic view of operations, which gave him a better understanding of network cross overs – making it much easier to see and identify opportunities for transport integration.
More than anything, this type of analysis step is about providing the insight during the implementation of a total transport initiative so that more informed decisions can be made. If the data is already held in integrated system, then you are already some way ahead in achieving the total transport goal of integration and joined-up working!
4. Tools of the trade: prepare to implement your project
Of course, when preparing to implement any new project, it’s important to plan ahead and prepare for potentially different scenarios that might occur. Since this is true with even the most minor of projects, something as ambitious and potentially revolutionary as Total Transport will require extensive preparation.
Yet this needn’t be a cause for concern. Indeed, using modern IT solutions and tools, it is possible for your engineers and planners to collect data (a job made easier now that it’s all been integrated!), then use these tools to model and provide simulations and forecasts for various different scenarios – thereby giving you the valuable insight into potential developments down the line.
When looking to employ the necessary tools, mapping and simple trip data solutions would typically be a good starting point. These can prove extremely valuable. For example, Trapeze have tools which show booking demographic data – and can overlay this with other vital information to provide a more holistic overview of your operations.
Of course, there’s no need to be too ambitious here or try anything too complicated. After all, at a pilot stage, it’s better to follow the so-called ‘KISS’ principle; whereby we keep everything as simple as possible, and set ourselves achievable goals – and use the tools that enable us to reach these goals quickly and cost effectively.
A Holistic Network View
5. Implementation of your model
The final step to Total Transport is, of course, the most important one: implementing your strategy, utilising the necessary technologies to help you achieve your aims and objectives.
At this point, it’s important to consider tools that help to integrate transport networks. Of course, this will depend somewhat on who owns what transport resource – vehicles, drivers, passenger information etc. – and whether it’s possible to create a combined and integrated dataset, which can be accessed by all necessary stakeholders and parties.
There are a number of technologies available here that can facilitate trip sharing between systems and organisations, such as Trapeze’s Web -Worker, or Community Connect. The logic behind these systems is simple: take scheduling information, for example. If all data needed to schedule is homogenised, then it’s much easier for technologies like automated scheduling systems to optimise and create efficient route plans.
Planning and preparing effectively before implementing a total transport project is therefore crucial. Not only will it help you plan strategies around potential challenges or issues that develop; it could also help identify potential opportunities for achieving the main goal of making savings more quickly!
Key here is working with partners – bus operators, brokerage firms, users and external stakeholders, as well as third-party technology suppliers – to ensure the implementation is effective, and to the benefit of all involved.
We feel technology and modern software tools have an important role to play, because these can serve as very real enablers in the realm of ‘Total Transport’. Indeed, they can help you realise the cost savings, while also enabling efficient working – helping organisations to manage eco-friendly transport systems that effectively meet passengers’ requirements – and all while helping to save authorities time and money!