A guide to increasing passenger engagement in demand responsive transportThe Trapeze Team | September 16, 2015
Providers of demand responsive transport (DRT) understand that passenger engagement is dependent upon convenience, quality and affordability of the service, which must be personalised to the needs of passengers. Technology is increasingly used to meet these requirements, as this article from DRT Bus explains: "New developments in technology […] have made it possible to create services which respond more directly to the requirements of the individual passenger."
Historically, technology here meant better routing or scheduling, or fleet management software. But today there is an increasing trend towards using technology to delivered more effective engagement with passengers, while simultaneously minimising the amount of administrative work booking staff have to do - saving organisations both time and money.
Sounds good? Here are five steps to get you started.
1. Make booking easier
Booking office staff are often inundated with the same passenger queries over and over again. Passengers frequently ask when their vehicle is expected to arrive - or whether it is possible for them to cancel previously booked trips. As a result, staff spend so much of their time answering dealing with queries when they could be focusing on other, higher-priority, tasks.
Fortunately, there's actually a much better way of dealing with this challenge.
By using an online self-service module such as Trapeze's TravelMate, passengers can carry out their own enquiries online, via PC, tablet or smartphone.
Passengers benefit from having access to all the information they need whenever they need it - and no longer need to wait for call centre staff to answer their queries.
Meanwhile, booking staff are freed up to focus on other tasks and priorities - which, in an age of austerity where every second counts, offers precious saving of valuable resource.
2. Embrace mobile
It's an oft-quoted figure, but the fact that over 90% of us are set to be using smartphones by 2017 deserves the attention it receives. This is especially true in the realm of DRT services, where this trend has the potential to revolutionise the way organisations engage with their passengers.
By utilising web services that can be accessed by users via their phones you will offer passengers the convenience and immediacy we all demand in so many aspects of our modern lives.
As John Knox - Demand Responsive Team Leader at SPT - says of his organisation's Trapeze solution: "Tablets and smartphones play a key role in encouraging people to use online self-service tools. People don't think of [these devices] as computers, so are more willing to use them."
3. Empower your passengers
Self-service tools puts passengers exactly where they want to be - in control of their journeys. Aside from the obvious benefit of control over information; these solutions also enable passengers to sign up for push notifications and alerts - and then relax safe in the knowledge that they will be automatically informed should anything change with regards to their booking.
4. Offer vehicle tracking
By offering integrated vehicle tracking, your passengers are able to monitor the progress of their booked vehicles, offering a greater sense of security and confidence in using the service.
These features can be developed and made more interactive by potentially interfacing with other features, such as 'Here Maps' and journey planners to help users visualise the location of any vehicle.
5. Reach all users
When delivering information to users' mobile phones you have to consider operating systems. Should you develop an app for iPhones, Android or both? You may need to consider Windows Mobile and Blackberry too. Only by creating apps for all operating systems will you reach all available users .
Fortunately, there is another way. We have developed TravelMate as a Responsive Web Design (RWD) application specifically so that it will work on all modern Smartphones, enabling you to reach all passengers through a single, elegant solution.
While there are undoubtedly benefits of platform-specific mobile apps (as summarised in this detailed article), we believe a single RWD application is the most suitable solution for DRT service providers - one that will enable you to increase passenger engagement without breaking the bank.
Because we want to help support DRT services, we're really excited by the potential of our new TravelMate solution for demand responsive transport. Please do get in touch to find out how Trapeze can help you deliver better passenger engagement!