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Talking the talk: Revolutionising communications in demand responsive transport

Andrew Fish | December 15, 2015

Tags: Demand response | Local authority | Public transport |

At the recent Trapeze UK Conference I noticed a great deal of discussion relating to technologies that support Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) services. One particularly hot topic was the ways in which DRT teams communicate, and the processes and tools used to deliver information.

Clearly, many communication tools can be used here; from SMS to IVR and email. Increasingly, however, we are seeing focus moving towards Smartphone applications and Responsive Websites, which can improve passenger engagement while also improving communications within Local Authority DRT teams.

The role technology can play here is fascinating – which is why Trapeze is so focused on developing solutions that can improve communications. We have already seen significant impact at Leeds County Council and Strathclyde Partnership for Transport.

The importance of streamlining external communications with passengers is well understood (tools such as TravelMate can assist here). However, our work to date suggests that in the rush to improve our external communication processes we shouldn’t forget the importance of internal communications.

It is increasingly clear that it is incredibly important to increase efficiency in internal communications – especially with staff and drivers out on the road, and those managers and supervisors responsible for running effective DRT services.

Drivers are the obvious example here, since traditional communication methods – schedules published on printed manifests – can be unreliable, risk data entry errors and limit flexibility.

But you can also look at current methods of connecting supervisors with drivers and transport offices – such as radio and mobile phone calls – which may be unreliable or pose the risk of costly miscommunication.

To achieve these goals is it time to embrace the potential opportunities created by recent trends within the wider technology sector? After all, Smartphones and tablet PCs have made technology more accessible than ever before.

Applications like Trapeze’s DriverMate and SupervisorMate make use of mobile devices – while interfacing with existing back office systems – to help Local Authority DRT teams to work together more effectively. And of course, reliable and efficient communications systems promote reliability of services, so there’s much to be gained for all involved.

By continuing to look at ways to improve internal communications, we can significantly increase operational efficiencies; reducing internal back office processes; cutting down investment in hard infrastructure or disparate communications tools; and most importantly, giving drivers, staff and back office teams more time to focus on other mission critical tasks.

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About Andrew Fish

Andrew Fish is Trapeze's Product Manager for the Demand Responsive Transport sector of the Local Authority Transport market. He has worked in transport & technology roles ranging from software engineering to product management and implementation delivery.

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