Paratransit operators have a mandate to serve passengers with diverse requirements, including ambulatory passengers, passengers in a wheelchair or scooter, passengers with a walker, and more. Agencies typically operate a fleet of vehicles with specialized and configurable seating to meet these varied passenger requirements.
RideCo’s Capacity Configuration Optimizer is a unique feature within our on-demand transit platform that automates and streamlines the allocation of passengers to your agency’s fleet of specialized vehicles, ensuring all requested rides are serviced at the highest level of fleet productivity.
Once a passenger books a ride with a specific requirement, our system continuously optimizes against all possible seat configurations within the fleet to rearrange passengers dynamically and autonomously. This ensures agencies can serve as many riders as possible in the most efficient way. The following steps explain how this is done.
Step 1: A dedicated project manager will work directly with your agency to determine possible vehicle configurations based on your specialized fleet and the potential passenger types that could be booking a ride. These passenger types can include passengers in a wheelchair or scooter, passengers with a walker, passengers with a service animal, a small child, or a caregiver, and more.
For example, a fleet operator may have the following specialized vehicle with five possible capacity configurations to serve passengers. The operator may want to allocate rides to the fleet with certain capacity configurations prioritized over others. In this example, the operator has prioritized vehicle configuration #1 in order to maintain one position for a scooter to ensure better availability to its rider base.
Step 2: Once a ride is booked the RideCo platform optimizes against every possible configuration in your fleet, recognizing the best possible vehicle for any given passenger’s request while considering configuration priorities. This is continuously and dynamically re-optimized as new rides are booked.
To illustrate this prioritization using the vehicle and configurations from step one, if there are two vehicles in a fleet and ride bookings exist from 16 ambulatory passengers and two wheelchair passengers, the system will divide the passengers amongst the two vehicles in an optimal manner that respects the priority configuration. This means eight ambulatory and one wheelchair passenger will be seated in each vehicle, enabling space for two scooter passengers to book rides in the future, following capacity configuration priority #1.
The priority configuration is not static either. It dynamically changes as new rides are booked and the system autonomously reoptimizes the configuration to accommodate more passengers. This can mean the system may switch to lower priority vehicle configurations to accommodate riders and optimize fleet utilization.
In this real-world example, two specialized transit vehicles within the fleet are continuously optimized to create the most productive seat configurations as new ride bookings come in throughout the week.
Step 3: When the driver arrives to pick up the passenger, the vehicle is already optimized to have the appropriate configuration. Drivers are also provided with their next pickup’s passenger type information, so that when they reach the next stop, they can readjust their seats to ensure the vehicle is ready to board. Furthermore, the system can autonomously vary the amount of pickup time needed depending on the passenger type selected. For example, it will schedule more time for boarding a passenger in a wheelchair than it will for an ambulatory passenger.
Depending on the passenger type, fare rates can be customizable to the agency’s specific needs. For instance, an agency may not want to charge for accessibility caregivers or children under a particular age. RideCo’s solution ensures that when these passenger types are selected, riders are charged fares accordingly.
Without RideCo, vehicle configuration would be static to reduce scheduling complexity. This negatively impacts an agency’s fleet utilization and ability to serve its full passenger demand. Furthermore, agencies would need a dedicated specialized fleet to serve paratransit passengers, and another fleet to serve general on-demand transit passengers.
Using the Capacity Configuration Optimizer, these services can be commingled within a single fleet to accommodate every possible passenger type while increasing your passengers per vehicle revenue hour. This feature allows your agency to utilize a mixed fleet of different vehicle models to further optimize operating cost and utilization, while also adhering to regulations on service levels to special needs riders.
Pressure is also relieved on dispatchers and operators who previously had to manually calculate these configurations and reschedule passengers into different vehicles as new ride bookings are accepted. We are currently using this feature in all paratransit services, including Guelph and St. Catharines in Ontario.
RideCo’s Capacity Configuration Optimizer ensures both a seamless operation and modernized paratransit service. Even in the most complex passenger scenarios, we ensure seat availability for every requested ride.
To learn more about how to optimize your specialized fleet and increase your productivity with our Capacity Configuration Optimizer feature, contact us!