The 3 Biggest Challenges Fixed Route Agencies Face Daily (And How To Solve Them)
Transit agencies across the nation may face radically different circumstances, but the core daily challenges of fixed-route operations all boil down to the same thing.
You need vehicles that run properly, you need to be able to keep track of your fleet, and must be able to easily manage rider ticketing. Being able to check off each item amounts to the perfect day in the fixed route agency world, but we know that often isn’t the case.
Vehicles break down or run into issues. Without a proper system in place, it can be difficult to locate your drivers at all times. And your rider ticketing system might be outdated and a total mess.
Thankfully, we’ve got the solution to these everyday problems and more. Let’s take these first three maintenance issues head-on then talk about what else NEMT software like TripMaster can offer your transit agency.
Fixed-Route Challenge 1: Vehicle Maintenance
Beyond the common maintenance items like ensuring your fleet is fueled up and ready to go, routine checks, oil changes, etc. there are some common maintenance items that are specific to buses in particular. These include tires, batteries, brakes, and your engines.
Buses generally carry heavy loads, and since they’re on the road every day, tire treads tend to break down quicker than regular cars. You need to inspect your fleet daily to ensure your tires are in good shape. Things like improper tire inflation or toe and camber alignment may require service and contribute to tires wearing down faster.
Meanwhile, batteries are often victims of improper charging, vibration from the rough road surface, and parasitic load. Choosing the right batteries is a great start, but staying on top of your battery maintenance ensures your fleet stays powered up and functioning on its route. Engine filters and fluids should be changed regularly as well.
Finally, bus brakes that use air brake systems will require different maintenance procedures than car brakes. They are designed with fail-safes, but they can still malfunction if an air dryer cartridge is blocked, or a compressor inlet pipe breaks. The system can also encounter leaks. Obviously, brake failures can be catastrophic to your agency, so daily brake checks must be at the forefront of your daily operations.
The overall logic here is simple: Properly manage the maintenance of your fleet and you’ll enjoy prolonged vehicle longevity and big savings in the long run. Not to mention you’ll decrease the frequency of breakdowns and keep your passengers safe on the road. These are huge wins for your transit agency.
Routine check-ups are great to keep your fleet up-to-date on maintenance and running smoothly, but it can be difficult to stay on top of the schedule. That’s where a vehicle maintenance module (VMM) comes in.
A VMM keeps track of dozens of tasks and timelines for your fleet. It ensures you stay on schedule and keeps your riders safe. You can set mileage parameters, create vehicle service requests, and add approved vendors for service.
Utilizing a vehicle maintenance module will deliver:
- Improved passenger safety
- Decreased emissions to help you meet requirements and improve local air quality
- Improved gas mileage for lower fuel costs
- Decrease or eliminate preventable maintenance-related incidents
Fixed-Route Challenge 2: Vehicle Location Tracking
Believe it or not, you still need to keep track of your fleet even with a fixed-route operation.
Consider the following:
Do you know where your fleet is at all times? Are your drivers staying on schedule? Are they adhering to the rules of the road? Are they deviating from your fixed route at all or staying right on track?
Also, consider the benefits of tracking your fleet locations:
- Improved rider safety
- Keep better track of maintenance needs
- Track your fuel costs
- Learn your driver behaviors
It can be difficult to manage your fleet 24/7. Or, at least it used to be.
Get a breadcrumb trail of each of your vehicle’s locations and speed history with an Automated Vehicle Locator.
Our Automated Vehicle Locator gives you a standalone map display to give you maximum efficiency. You’ll be able to view your entire fleet’s current location, speed, and capacity. You’ll also view the tracking history of your vehicles down to the very minute, giving everything you need for reporting, incident tracking, and planning.
These real-time dispatch updates and data collection will give you greater oversight of those last-minute schedule changes that always occur.
With TripMaster’s AVL, you get:
- A standalone visual display of your vehicles’ attributes and driver behavior
- Color coding to determine on-time performance
- A visual history of your vehicles’ route and speed
- Overlay location identifiers for real-time dispatching
Fixed-Route Challenge 3: Rider Ticketing
Obviously, collecting rider payment in whatever form you choose is the only way a fixed-route transportation system makes money. But cash fares are incredibly time-consuming for your drivers and office staff. They’re also a liability to transport and store on vehicles.
Not only that, but cash payments are a dated form of collecting payments. To keep up with modern riders’ expectations, you need to offer more convenient forms of payment.
Keep better track of your fare payments in a manner that’s safer for your drivers and easy for your riders. TripPass offers the ultimate solution. Your riders simply load their TripPass at the office, over the phone, or with the driver, and scan it when they board. That’s it!
This alleviates the stress and accountability that comes with transporting and handling cash. You’ll also improve your drive efficiency and increase your on-time performance by taking this time-consuming task out of their hands. Flexible payment methods also will likely lead to an increase in ridership!
Summary: Your All-In-One Solution
TripMaster can support your transit agency’s daily operations with our user-friendly NEMT solutions. Besides the benefits above, you can also take advantage of modules for:
- Automated scheduling
- Powerful custom reporting
- Integrated voice response
- Mobile solutions and an automated vehicle locator
- Web-based TripPortal
- And more!