Product Features

Time Snapping Provides Seamless Connections and Improves Service Efficiency


Jess Blenkarn


5 min read

Jess Blenkarn
5 min read

On-demand transit services have recently seen widespread adoption in public transportation and corporate commuting; however, the success of these services varies significantly depending on the use case and performance.

In the public sector, the success of an on-demand service is often evaluated by how well it facilitates passenger connections into the existing fixed-route network. For example, how can a passenger riding an on-demand vehicle get dropped off just in time to seamlessly transfer to a fixed-route bus or commuter train? If the on-demand vehicle is not coordinated with the schedule of the fixed route, the passenger risks arriving at the transit hub too early or worse, arriving too late and missing the connection or transfer. A fixed-route bus or commuter train schedule with infrequent or irregular timings can make these connections even more challenging.

To facilitate seamless transfers to fixed-route systems, a smart on-demand service needs to get two crucial things right:
(1) it needs to coordinate pickup and drop off timings to align with the schedule of the fixed-route system, and
(2) it needs to have excellent on-time performance on these coordinated pickup and drop off timings. RideCo’s unique Time Snapping feature consistently achieves 95%+ on-time performance and facilitates smooth connections to transit.

The same challenges and opportunities are presented in corporate commuting as well, where employers need to coordinate pickups and drop offs with the start and end of work shifts. An on-demand shuttle service must be configurable to allow synchronization of its pickups and drop off timings to align with the work shift schedule.

What is the Time Snapping Feature?

Time Snapping is a RideCo feature that enables passengers to seamlessly connect to a destination from an on-demand zone while ensuring the highest level of efficiency by arranging pickups and drop offs at the most optimal times. With this feature, productivity and pooling efficiency are significantly improved as more passengers can be grouped into the same trip.

Our industry-leading algorithm engine, Solver, aligns the passenger’s drop off time a few minutes before their desired arrival time, or arranges a pickup at their desired pickup time. This improves the passenger experience as it gives riders confidence that they will make it to their final destination on time for their important appointment, connection, or work shift. It is also guaranteed that they will be picked up when they arrive at the fixed-route hub or when their shift ends to be taken back home.

Time Snapping Use Case #1: Commuting To and From Transit Hubs

Time Snapping has two main use cases: the first is when passengers are picked up near their homes and are driven to a connecting transit hub, or when passengers are picked up at the hub and are taken back to their homes as a first/last mile service.

Once a trip is booked, Solver dynamically routes the on-demand vehicle to ensure it arrives just before the bus or train’s scheduled departure. Solver will also time snap routes to pick up passengers when the fixed-route bus or train arrives at the transit hub. On-demand vehicles will be waiting at the station when the fixed-route bus or train arrives, ready to take passengers the last mile to their final destinations, such as to their homes. This level of efficiency has been integral to our service with Calgary Transit, resulting in a 98% on-time performance record for passenger drop offs.

Bus and train departure times are often set based on rider demand, with more frequent arrivals and departures during rush hours. For example, a commuter train may leave a station every half hour between 5:00 AM and 10:00 AM, switch to every hour from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, before switching back to a half hour frequency for the evening rush. RideCo’s Time Snapping feature has the flexibility to accommodate these changes in fixed-route schedules.

Agencies can also configure variations in time snaps for specific points of interest within a service zone. For VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio, different time snaps are set at the transit center versus the shopping center to ensure seamless connections to city amenities and a productivity level of 5.0 passengers per vehicle revenue hour during weekday service.

Time Snapping Use Case #2: Employee Commuting

Companies can simplify their employees’ commutes by providing an on-demand service that takes their staff to and from their place of work. Using Time Snapping, our algorithm will align pickup and drop off times with the employee’s set shift schedule. For example, if a company has shifts that run from 7:00 AM until 3:00 PM, 10:00 AM until 6:00 PM, 2:00 PM until 10:00 PM, 4:00 PM until 12:00 AM, and 11:00 PM until 7:00 AM, Solver can schedule vehicles to arrive at the place of work for employee drop off or pickup ten minutes before or after a given shift starts or ends.

Time Snapping is currently being used with our Syncrude service in Alberta. Employees are picked up by on-demand vehicles in Fort McMurray and are taken to the Syncrude site before their shift start time. At the end of their shifts, rides are snapped to depart from the site to take employees back home to Fort McMurray. This commuter service has increased pooling efficiency and ensured a 99% on-time performance record.

Improve Efficiency with Time Snapping

Without this unique feature, other on-demand transit providers will dispatch a vehicle as soon as a ride is requested, resulting in an early drop off at the transit hub or place of work that ultimately wastes the passenger’s time. When another passenger requests a ride seconds later, another vehicle is dispatched even though both passengers needed to go to the same place at the same time. Using the fleet in this inefficient way costs agencies money with fewer passengers per vehicle hour served. Further, with each vehicle carrying only one or two passengers, riders could be late for their fixed-route departure or shift, or their ride requests are denied outright.

However, services that have implemented RideCo’s Time Snapping feature provide seamless passenger pickup and drop off timing and consistently have higher on-time performance and pooling efficiency. With more riders serviced per vehicle revenue hour, passenger experience is improved while simultaneously reducing agency costs.

To learn more about how RideCo’s Time Snapping feature has achieved industry-leading on-time performance records, contact us!

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