The 3 key elements of mobile sign-on


Moving relief points away from depots will dramatically improve bus operators’ ability to optimise route planning, redefining the way they operate and delivering significant savings by furthering the trend towards centralisation. But how do we actually do this while preventing failed reliefs and ensuring continuity of service?

1: ‘Driver En-Route’ Failsafe

Moving driver relief points to the roadside removes visibility and control: drivers are out ‘in the wild’ and the traffic office doesn’t know what they are doing. Statistically, some drivers will fail to show up some of the time – you just don’t know which or when.

What if you could identify the reliefs that are set to fail, granting the control room a window of opportunity in which to fix the issue?

Trapeze’s Roadside Relief introduces a driver en-route failsafe so drivers can let the office know they are intending to work and en-route to their relief point. Typically this failsafe is set to 15 to 20 minutes before the driver’s duty starts. The traffic office then knows which reliefs are progressing as planned, and has advance warning of any potential issues. The traffic office is immediately alerted when a driver fails an en-route failsafe, granting them time to deploy spares to avert a failed relief.

Should the issue be impossible to address entirely, the traffic office still has time to put in place contingencies, such as adjusting services, or building curtailments into passenger-facing information channels, thereby minimising the impact on the travelling public.

Furthermore, Roadside Relief serves as a two-way communication channel, enabling drivers to send messages to the traffic office. An obvious use is for a driver who has sent a ‘driver en-route’ message but subsequently encountered heavy traffic; in this instance the driver can warn the office of the delay so they can evaluate the impact and identify potential corrective action. Note that this same functionality could also be used to notify the office of early arrival and availability for additional work.

2: Driver Arrived: Roadside Sign-On

Sometimes a driver will do their best to reach a relief point but fail in the attempt – most often due to congestion. This, of course, is a problem for operators that require drivers to come in to the depot to sign on: the driver has ‘signed on’ for work, but they still need to actually reach their relief point. Given that the vehicle may be 30 minutes’ travel away, there’s no guarantee they will actually make it there by the required time.

While there is no way to guarantee a driver doesn’t become stuck in traffic and become delayed reaching their relief point, Roadside Relief reduces the impact of such occurrences by moving the sign-on point from the depot to the road itself. In effect, drivers can only sign on when they are actually present at the relief point – and thereby ready for work.

In this way, drivers who have failed to reach their relief point are identified quickly and the traffic office has the ability to control the situation by contacting drivers; reallocating duties in real time; or bridging any gaps with service regulation.

Furthermore, the traffic office is able to avoid the ‘disaster scenario’ of a failed relief that they don’t even hear about until long after the bus should have departed – by which time there’s a gaping hole in the schedule, and a group of very unhappy passengers.

3: Improve Driver Communication

To return to our earlier point: you may have hundreds or thousands of drivers out working, but you don’t really know what they are doing. In this situation, simple communication is a huge benefit – but of course you can’t communicate to hundreds of drivers at a time. Again, that’s where technology comes in.

One of the more interesting reasons for a failed relief is one where a road traffic accident causes a road closure, preventing vehicles accessing a particular part of town. In this instance your drivers may be at the pre-agreed relief point, but the vehicle can’t reach them. In this instance some drivers may even see an opportunity to avoid working, pleading ignorance that the relief point has been affected. How do you manage this?

In this instance, Roadside Relief can be used to identify drivers awaiting relief at an affected area sign-on location. You can then contact them via your Duty Allocation System to advise them of an alternative relief point. In some instances you may have a group of drivers affected, in which case you can message them and then round them up in a shuttle bus to escort them to a substitute relief point, thereby ensuring minimal impact on upcoming services.

Roadside Relief dramatically improves bus operators’ ability to optimise route planning by making it possible to move relief points to the roadside, rather than centralised depots. The system offers traffic office staff confidence that drivers are on their way to their relief points, and offers means to identify and address any potential failed reliefs.

Ready to embrace truly mobile driver sign-on? Get in touch today


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