🚍 Driver and other staff shortages giving you sleepless nights?
🧍 Ridership recovery still reeling under COVID-19 after-effects?
🚧 Concerned about adapting to constantly-changing ridership patterns?
Join Jenn Van Geem and Paul Comfort as they discuss strategies to safeguard an agency's operations from such burning issues plaguing our industry and showcase how our friends at Citybus (Lafayette, Indiana, USA) have harnessed the power of passenger-facing technology to do so effectively.
CityBus Ridership Recovery Webinar Transcript
Hey! Good Afternoon and Good Morning, Good Evening wherever you're at. Great to have you on this TripSpark webinar ridership recovery and managing staff shortages with technology, as you know.
That is probably the hottest topic in the industry, I just spoke this morning to a group of 60 bus employees in Baltimore or their main senior managers. And I told him it's the number one issue that's happening in the industry, right now, and Jen is going to talk to you about some potential solutions that we have that can help you. [She will] address this and manage it better.
Jen why don't you introduce yourself, great to have you with us Jen! And I did a similar presentation recently and CTAA Expo and glad you all could join us.
Jennifer Van Geem:
Good afternoon, everyone, I see a lot of some familiar names, I guess not faces showing up here in the chat which is great to see so.
For those who I haven't had the opportunity to connect with that, my name is Jen, and I am an account manager here at TripSpark. I’ve been with the company now for three years, focusing mostly with our Canadian accounts Washington, as well as the east coast of the United States.
And as Paul said, [I] had the opportunity in May to present something similar at CTAA and we thought there's an opportunity to kind of share our findings from that and bring them forward here today for a great discussion, so I look forward to presenting everything chatting with you all and answering any questions you may have, as we go through the chat.
Thanks Jen look forward to hearing what you have to say.
My name is Paul Comfort. I’m senior Vice President chief customer officer formerly of Trapeze TripSpark and bought this but, most recently been promoted to or been moved to Medallia, which is the parent company of those. Modaxo is a global company that that has a bunch of these vertical software companies like them. I’m the former CEO of the MTA in Baltimore, which is where I’m at right now. And for the last five years of work kind of as the thought leadership.
Customer C suite customer connector, have the podcast transit unplug, hopefully a lot of you get a chance to listen to that and, our new TV show transit unplug TV. And basically, what I do is I had my ear to the ground of the transit industry. I’ve been in the transition now for over 30 years and here's what we're hearing.
You know, coming out the pandemic now hopefully, and you know, in the peak of the pandemic, there was a lot of uncertainty and health concerns.
With public transit and paratransit riders were just concerned about it, and agencies saw drastic changes from ridership reductions to increases, including protocols.
You know in paratransit services where you had to clean the vehicle down in between every passenger and that of course affected productivity.
Both sides experience some financial crunches agencies had a big financial crunch, in that they had a reduction in revenue from farebox recovery.
But the federal government in the US, at least stepped in quite a bit and someone in Canada as well, through the provinces, they matched provincial increases in funding. And that's helped them some but, on the impact that that has been that coming out of the pandemic there is dramatically changing work patterns.
We're seeing it all over the country some really interesting article. In Bloomberg if you get a chance, go to my LinkedIn profile and find I posted it yesterday, the day before. Or just Google, so you can find it but it's about what's happening, some of the larger agencies, how they're having to adapt now to the new changing work package with hybrid work schedule is still in place and a lot of places.
The way that transit meets the needs of our customers change, then you flip it over to the agency side our side on the transit agencies, and you know, everybody I know is looking for drivers, the larger agencies to mid-sized agencies.
So obviously with us correctly Miami he said, Paul we've been trying to hire 200 drivers for the last six months. Meaning you know you get 10 in and 9 go out the door, and the other side that's a big issue and overall, what that led to is changing that and not being a lot of you look at the media.
Transit agency media transmedia, and it's telling you every week a transformation is coming out a major one saying hey we can implement these new changes we wanted to because we just don't have enough drivers.
And so, this is a real problem, and it leads to ridership being down, leads to not being able to provide predictable service to people, because you don't have enough drivers and the schedules - maybe don't meet the needs. So, what are we doing about that Jen? Let’s put out a poll.
Jennifer Van Geem:
Yeah absolutely, so this is our perception and conversations at Paul's had on where things are at with Kobe, but we want to put it out to you as well, is there more mid-sized agencies that are joining us on the call today.
Where your agency can tune to see the impact, following the covid pandemic, as we head into the second half of 2022 as well as 2023. So, I know probably you'll be experiencing some of these to some degree, but what is the most prevalent. Once again feel free to use the chat function as well as we're having our discussion.
So, what do they do here? How did they click this? They just click on one, two or three with your mouse.
Jennifer Van Geem:
One two or three and then you can submit, and we'll give it will give it probably 20 seconds here and we'll end the poll and we'll share the results.
Jennifer Van Geem:
So interesting results here across the board. So, as he said I’m sure to some degree everyone's experiencing one of these issues, but for looking at these changes, but one of the biggest beam so wrote cancellations and service interruptions which will be a big component of what we're here to discuss today reduced your statement ridership.
Paul, I’m sure you can speak to that at a higher level, but you know we're not out of the woodwork yet and then looking at some service adjustments as well.
Yeah. One person said they didn't see it but let me just comment on that this is the one that that had the most route cancellations and service interruptions to the driver shortage is that had 56% reduced or stagnant ridership is a 48% and as Jen mentioned that. You know I’m here in Baltimore today and I just talked to their bus staff was operation staff on customer experience.
And I asked them where you add on ridership, they're still at only 60% some cities like rich Member Julie TIM came from and she's going out to sound transit.
They've gone back up to 80 - 90 100% of their pre pandemic but there's still a lot of places Jen where it looks like we could see it here on the numbers. That’s almost half - the agencies are still having that issue.
Jennifer Van Geem:
Absolutely, and then I’ve got one more for you here before you move on. So, you know with the funding that we've seen pumped into transit over the last six months with wants, which has been incredibly helpful and ridership slowly climbing by the month as we head into 2023, what is your agency's focus.
Yeah, so take a look at this, what are you focused on?
Click on which one fixed route network updates fleet electrification micro transit staff retention recruitment. What's your top focus?
That's what we're looking for right Jen. They had to prioritize which one would be the number one.
Jennifer Van Geem:
And for those who aren't seeing the chat, if you are having issues accessing the poll, there should be a poll at the bottom panel of soon, and if you click that it should pop up if it's not popping up for you.
This is very interesting so far.
It's what I’ve been saying the number one issue is getting drivers and staff it's showing that, so far, keep going. We're only 44% let's at least crack 50% if you haven't voted yet go ahead and tell us what your top priorities.
Jennifer Van Geem:
Are meeting with the staff retention recruitment strategy, so I think we're seeing that across the board, looking at network updates, which we will be speaking to as well.
Please electrification to some degree, as well as micro trended on demand. So, with that being said, I’m going to stop sharing and all passes back to you.
Excellent one more slide for me and for Jen kind of gets into some of the solutions and what is all points. You've just confirmed it is - this is what the need of the hour is.
We are we're changing the perception of what the role of public transit is even in midsize and smaller cities, change the perception of what a transit agency does. And maybe it isn't always just the provider, but it might be an aggregator of services we're also adapting to the new ridership levels. And, well, we don't have the poll up now pulls done.
Thank you. We're adapting to new ridership levels so, not just the levels of ridership, but also where they want to go and how often.
In this article that I mentioned from Bloomberg yesterday, New Jersey transit I know these are larger examples, but I think it's illustrative of what's happening. They basically have identified that Tuesdays Wednesdays and Thursdays, are the big days now, that people want to go into Manhattan. And I think that transit agencies across the country are figuring out, you know when do people want to go what time and how often what needs to be our frequency of the service.
And so, we have to adjust our services that and then attracting new employees and once they come on board, making sure we keep them.
And so, that means that may mean offering more shift PICs in a year than you normally do and those kinds of things, so these gen or what we see the need of the hours that tell us some of the solutions.
Jennifer Van Geem:
Absolutely thanks Paul, so I think the theme that we're going to see as we fall throughout the webinar is that there's truly no silver bullet when it comes.
To addressing these needs at the end of the day, it's going to be up to each individual agency to find the strategies and initiatives that are going to work best for your operators your riders your strategic plans.
And the resources that you have available as we look at different sized agencies your geography.
Jennifer Van Geem:
All those are going to address some of the resources and capabilities that you have moving forward.
But really what we want to do as we move forward to the rest of 2022 is highlighting success stories that we're seeing in our industry and learning outcomes that come with that. From our other partner agencies, so that we can grow and improve.
As an industry as we look forward to that 2023 so as we go through the content just at a high-level thing that we're seeing is the way we can.
Move[ing] forward in the transit spaces, by looking at our feedback from our riders from outreach and looking at the things that we are able to control.
Obviously, we can't bring community commuters back from doing a hybrid war fully work from home. We can't pull drivers out of thin air as Paul’s discussing. There's an industry need across the board. And we can ensure that monkey pox isn't going to become the next global pandemic and we'll all be in our swap dance at next year.
So, we need to look at the controls that we have in the resources that we have available to move forward, always look to better our service so that we can improve our ridership numbers. And look at our service metrics and maybe possibly do some reworking when it comes to our networks.
So, especially when a lot of our mid-sized market or mid-sized market agencies are on the call right now don't have as many resources and the ability to pivot as some of the larger transit helps what.
So, with that in mind, looking at some of the tools and solutions that are available immediately when controlling those things are marketing.
Obviously, marketing and web plays a big turnaround in the campaign for increasing ridership making people feel comfortable and coming back to. The transit system so providing right information, making sure that there were sharing cleaning policies and all those things.
And then, depending on the situation, we can market aspects like convenience reliability adaptability. And also our return on investment so, especially in areas where there's high reliance and cities are so high reliance on single occupancy vehicles, we can look at doing some Roi campaigns, where we talk about, you know we see the rising cost of gas so what's the true cost of taking your single occupancy vehicle to work for accessing transit and taking into account travel times fuel prices, your transit passes and doing that, as a campaign to market transit as a more accessible and affordable option for travel.
I’m just going to mention Jen I think that's a great idea, and if you haven't done that, as a mid-size or smaller agency, I know that some larger cities you're doing it, but it really is.
It's the value prop position I just spoke about that, this morning, as we look at what transit agencies can do to attract new riders and she's going to get into info availability in just a minute, but let me just comment on this one right here.
Thinking of your transit agency, you know, not just as a government agency, but thinking of it like a business - a business has to sell what is the value proposition of what I’m selling it's the old routine.
You know, how do you sell mosquito netting to an Eskimo? You don't tell them its mosquito netting you tell them it's a fishnet. is that because you're meeting the need - you're selling the value that they need, and so what Jen is saying is, if you can tie in your transit agency and the services, you're providing to the needs right now. $5 a gallon gas it's a great way to show the value proposition of what it is you're offering.
Jennifer Van Geem:
Absolutely, and even I was speaking with an agency in Maryland. Just yesterday, and another thing when it comes to marketing is not just biting off transit and looking at transit specifically but as we talk more than industry about mobility as a service.
Look at your full end to end offering when it comes to your city or your town when it comes to those options to move so. It's an agency and Marilyn has just brought in the bikes and scooters and they're looking at doing a cross kind of transportation.
Marketing push to talk about all those different mediums of travel that are available. Instead of just transit and how you can enter work those all into your ecosystem so Those are the things that I’m seeing and they've been quite successful and then.
Honestly, most importantly, it's not new information is the importance of that information availability. So, you're strengthening your liability, we're strengthening tests and trust and services by making sure that you have the most real time information available out to your riders and making sure it's easy to access it's one thing to only rely on your website in one distinct area on a page to push out information.
But you are making it so riders only have one source of information it's not as accessible and they have to go looking for it, so how can we make sure that that's accessible for all and it's pushed out to different mediums. availability to give quick overview of your services and how to access them.
And how they can envision how their service might be I’m sure many of us, before getting into transit agency, we wanted to know absolutely how far we had to walk where the bus was going to specifically pick us up.
And what that was going to look like, so we can make travel plans, especially with the addition of having smartphones we've become very reliant on having everything telling us what to do and not having to put much thought into it ourselves.
And then, one of the last ones being it's we talked a lot about passenger information in that importance, but how are we able, when we come in on a Monday and we realized that we have a driver shortage, how flexible and dynamic, are we willing able to be when it comes to pushing out information so if there was?
An extreme weather warning, I know, last year with forest fires out West floods on the east coast. How are you as an agency to be able to jump into action and put out that information as quickly as possible so that you don't have a rider left stranded?
For their early morning shift and they're expecting to pick up the route in the same place, they always do so all of these things come with the trust, reliability and making sure that when it comes to the writer, they have a very predictable and reliable experience.
So, kind of on the same note - Dave you can switch sides there.
Dave Silva: Sure, yep we do that for you.
Jennifer Van Geem:
Oh, I do have control my thing was just too late, I apologize for now, and I can drive it I’m kind of on the same piece of looking at effective marketing mediums when we're looking at new services and also dressing driver shortages in real time. About 14% on our poll said they were looking at micro transit at some degree.
Not going to talk about it super indefinitely at this time, but I would encourage anyone who hasn't seen our last webinar where we showcase Lethbridge transit. And they were actually on the webinar to discuss their process for redesigning there fixed route system and how they introduced on demand zones.
So, for them, on demand is made possible by leveraging their existing paratransit platform through TripSpark and adding our rights on demand mobile app, and then they're sitting link project that was discussed in this webinar.
[It] was shared at CUTA for my Canadian joiners as well as a panel for active back in Columbus.
So, for them when we're looking at driver shortage is we're looking at being dynamic and truly understanding the needs riders and making that available. Micro transit has become more commonplace tool to manage driver shortages adjusting ridership patterns and demand, especially in the era of tea and sees like Lyft or uber and allow for a little bit more of an agile service. So, for Lethbridge once again, I really encourage looking at it, but their goal was looking at a fixed route network pulling off for performing fixed network networks and introducing on demand.
But then they could take their additional fixed route buses and decrease headways and they're more traffic areas but speaking with agencies that I worked at we're using micro transit.
In some cases, to fully replace a fixed route network in a more rural setting I’ve seen some agencies, looking at replacing their old dialer right system that was used an evening service and now they're just going to fully manage it on demand, instead of having to use a radio system.
And all those ways are just different opportunities that you can use micro transit when you have a little bit less resources available are looking to be more efficient and reducing costs.
Let me add a couple thoughts on that Jen that's really good what you said you've identified a lot of reasons, another reason, people are using micro transit during this age of arpa funding were there still may be a little bit of extra money coming in, you can try new things with.
For transit deserts and area where you've wanted to expand surface, but you weren't sure there's enough demand to run a 30 foot or 40-foot bus, you can do the micro transit option, and then a lot of sense, a lot of agencies are short drivers, and they don't want to put a driver on a pilot program and take them off of a fixed route.
You mentioned uber and Lyft and other companies, maybe like user of and others that are adaptive tn sees transport networking companies.
And their cost is actually a lot cheaper than it is to run it yourself, sometimes in addition they're not having the same trouble of attracting drivers to the gig economy is still strong.
And you're working with a whole different driver pool of applicants, when you want people to come in for an eight-hour shift in a uniform to do you know come into the yard and do pre trip and all that versus and Susan is going to drive your own car for three hours in the evening.
To make a few extra bucks working for uber, Lyft or user or silver rider when these companies and so there's a great opportunity to explore and try new things through micro trends, as a way to even address driver shortage is as well as meeting the needs, the more individualized customer needs.
That our passengers have so many of them during covid got used to very personalized service didn't agenda, whether they were getting their meals delivered to them, you know uber eats or whatever, and they just want that personalized service now, this is a way to try to meet those needs.
Jennifer Van Geem:
Yeah, thanks very much! Great so like I said Dave was able to share those links in the chat I highly recommend if you haven't watched it to just take a look on there.
There's been a little tiny two-minute video that you can share as well, if you want to take a look, but for the rest of the webinar we really will be focusing on CityBus of greater Lafayette.
Speaking with a lot of agencies were even on the call I know a lot of agencies are doing something quite similar that we're going to be discussing today.
But CityBuses a long-term partner with TripSpark, we've been working together on the fixture outside for over 10 years. And they're doing a lot of great things. They've been integral also to our kind of our thought leadership and our mapping when it comes to our technology roadmap. So, overall, just a great opportunity to share what they're doing and hopefully.
Some people can take this away and tap some thoughts, they can bring back to their own agency. So, for those who don't know the inner workings of Indiana transit see bus is in Lafayette Indiana, so we're scale, they are the second busiest transit agency in Indiana. And, like everyone, they were not immune to the hit of 2020.
So, when you're looking at those stats 5.1 million on late trips and 2019 to 2 million on LinkedIn.
With this being said, you know CityBuses a perfect example of controlling what is able to be controlled now is they're looking at this time this year, they have returned to pretty much pre pandemic levels of ridership.
And with a lot of that being due to the surface area that they have so for those who don't know, CityBus is the transit provider for Purdue university so when you're looking at overall size of how much the population increases during that prime, September to May, they service 50,000 Purdue students, as well as there's over 30,000 staff members so not on top of Purdue - you also have Ivy tech Community College as well.
But you know when we're talking about resiliency and we're talking about adaptability dynamic service and having overall strategy.
I just think CityBuses are really prime example of how they took that information and we're looking at strategies, how they took their current strategic plan that had been built in 2019.
Jennifer Van Geem:
And how we're able to take all that information solicit feedback and come out being successful but with some learning outcomes as well that they're going to look at moving forward. So, just in terms of an overall understanding of where they sat prior to pandemics, so their strategic plan was from 2019 to 2025 so prior to the understandings and kind of learning outcomes that we've seen since that point.
They ratified their strategic plan in 2019 and they were really looking at how they could take their current service and add additional improvement with customer experience really at the forefront as you're reading throughout that's really a common theme, as you see.
The big components they're looking for is higher frequency transit service in greater densities.
Addressing the challenges associated with busy roads, especially around Purdue. On time performance was a key metric that they were hoping to increase but looking at ways that they'd be able to manage that, given all the increased traffic that they were experiencing that they hadn't seen to that level.
And seeing if there's maybe a way to reduce transfer times on top of that, and obviously with ridership growth as well. It was important to them to retain that for their small transit intensive cities funding so having a year over year ridership growth was incredibly important.
So, prior to the pandemic things that CityBus had introduced from a customer experience and efficiency standpoint. Just to kind of set the stage of what was involved in their ecosystem is they had real time passenger information through TripSpark which will be looking at a little bit more in depth league.
They already had audio announcements set in their vehicles to make that transition a little bit more accessible for those who are accessing the bus and making sure people had the information that they needed law on the bus, as well as using next class signage.
So, this was signage that was used in their university student complexes on campus and throughout greater Lafayette as well to share that information.
In 2019 their big initiatives that they were looking at was mobile fairing possible signal prioritization. As well as continued advertisement marketing of their MyRide website and native APP to increase users using that platform - just kind of gives you a background of where things were at before the world fell apart.
So, speaking to the partnership, where we get to kind of where we're at now. Strategies in the first stage is a partnership between TripSpark, CityBus, it was designated very early on, so even 10 years ago.
They're really kind of thought leaders understand the importance of having that fully integrated solution, so one stop shops for their cat EPL that's managing your in-vehicle peripherals like Ada.
Jennifer Van Geem:
The slides just died on me Dave.
Yeah, that was quite strange it, I see that on my end as well, let me just go ahead and reshare that quickly.
Jennifer Van Geem:
I’m going to keep talking.
Managing in vehicle peripheral of rules like a [va] or you're on MAC passenger counters all you're blocking trip generating broke creation bidding.
And most importantly, the inclusion of a purpose-built passenger information system that wasn't third party, and that was a big component at the time, obviously, the increase of third party.
Information has become more common last few years, but really the reason behind that was to centralize the ecosystem, to ensure there's end to end connectivity and integration functionality. To make sure you can push out those more real time updates without having to go to each component and make those individual updates and hope, everything is talking at one time.
So, this is kind of where we introduced the idea of MyRide in the importance of having that passenger information APP which you can kind of see a screenshot up on the screen, but for those who are interested, I would highly encourage just putting in CityBus or greater Lafayette and looking at their real time and looking at in greater detail if you want more information. But this really became the backbone when we're talking about transparent ridership communication and real time and being as much as dynamic as possible when it comes to the information that we can.
Get in front of and provide to our riders so.
Even more so in the last two years, so MyRide TripSpark passing information out that manages all the components of passenger information so trip planning vehicle tracking news alerts and also provides you know, Information it's not really available on third party platform so as you can see here on the screen.
They actually save us has their APC data feed linked to MyRide to show real time bus capacity so when you're thinking back to co leader even now.
If I’m about to get on a bus and I’m a little still a little nervous or you know, maybe I’m not a friendly person. And I want to know how many people are on that bus I’m going to be able to go on to my APP or the website and see what that bus that's approaching us going to be at in terms of capacity so great for just giving riders that information. That they're not going to show up to their boss and realize the buses packed and it needs to drive past, as well as information you're seeing there, you're seeing a screenshot of the STOP amenities at that given stop.
So, looking at you know, there's a bite back on the actual bus it's accessible, you can put a stroller on it and its air conditioning and then you would be able to toggle to the same when it comes to bus stops.
So, to give you an idea in in looking at just the grand scheme it's great to say okay let's bring in a passenger information APP. It's going to be great let's see what kind of riders but the amount of people that are using these Apps is actually astounding so looking at Google analytics we're able to track the actual participation on Apps like this and really understand and track red Ryder behavior.
It's a little Big Brother for people who don't know Google analytics but it's absolutely fascinating so for CityBus.
There are one of our largest users of MyRide when it comes to their riders so looking at the information justice morning and realizing that students have mostly for the most part, left at this time we're in summer break.
The last 90 days on the website alone, they had 36,000 users so individually users that's not used individually use cases that's users with 27,000 using the mobile APP.
So, when you look at the overall population of greater Lafayette, you look at the student amount. That is a really great way that they're able to broadcast information out to their riders and it's showing that it's being a valuable tool. They have about a like a 60% retention rates that means out of those riders in that given time period of 90 days 60% of those users are coming back and using the platform again.
So, not only are we looking at how valuable it is to offer it as a tool but we're also able as an agency collect valuable behavior information. At the same time, so with the Google analytics CityBus has their own site setup that they're able to track.
A lot more back-end information, we can track behavior based on ridership demographics So are we only really targeting this to students are able to effectively market it to older generations.
I was just on site at another site in Canada and I actually shared with them that they had a pretty good uptick in riders using MyRide over the age of 65, which they had no idea that was really great to see because, for the most part we would assume that they wouldn't be using this technology, so we can track that. We can see peak usage times when people are most likely to access the systems.
And we can also see information like how where this referral coming from are they going through Google, are they going to your website? what are they accessing? when they come on here? is it mostly trip planning? is it mostly the vehicle location?
Are they going to your new site? There's a lot of information that we can really pull away from here to understand what’s important to our riders and how they're interacting with our service on any given day that kind of goes outside standard reporting and a PC tracking.
Yeah, that's really good Jenn. I think that's one of the one of the key aspects that maybe people are thinking about as they think about should I get an APP it's a great way to find out from your customer base what they're doing, where they're going, what their needs are that's brilliant.
Jennifer Van Geem:
Yeah, absolutely and one of the other things I know there's kind of a tossup right now on what if you don't already have.
Passenger Information - what's the best avenue to go to and there's a million different things that would be important to any given agency on what platform, they should use, but one of the other successes in CityBus was a large part of our pilot and doing this, as we introduce MyRide, a predictive algorithm which even improves, we're looking at giving real time information to a writer's. Instead of just using a standard TT FSB.
For bus times in the approaching bus, we have a predictive algorithm that runs instead which takes historical data travel times current conditions like traffic conditions weather conditions.
And it predicts when that law school right so when you're looking at a writer and instead of saying okay well the bus is supposed to be here at 10:15 I’m going to show up at 10:15, or even 5:15 in the middle of rush hour. We have the best intentions and for a bus, not to get stuck in the middle traffic at rush hour, but it does happen.
It's when that predictive algorithm that actually spit out an estimated arrival based on every Tuesday at 5pm we seem to run a little bit later than we expected, or we run.
A little hot because somehow, we're getting through faster it'll take all that predictive information, and spit out a new time for rivals so that we're really giving riders, the most updated information and we're able to be more dynamic and pivot to the patterns that we've seen historically so.
Yeah, I mean to me it's almost a no brainer if you don't have this, you should definitely look into it it's a for a transit Agency to have this powerful tool in their hands. It’s coming back at a COPA trying to get people to engage with your system. It's a very powerful way to do that.
Jennifer Van Geem:
Yeah absolutely, and I mean it's been great to see. I think when looking at all agencies who talked about communication and they've talked about rider ship return and, overall satisfaction.
They do surveys, there seemed does seem to be a correlation that those who are on top of their passenger information, who are pushing out that information.
I truly think you know we talked about not having a silver bullet, but if there was a close a close second, it would be something like passenger information so with that in mind, I’m going to put up another poll, and then we have the quiz so.
I’m going to watch this one so just in terms of overall if your agencies utilizing real time passenger information up or if there's some plans to in the future.
No there's just not a current need, so it should be showing everyone screen here we'll try to get.
As close to 100% participation on this one, and then we'll move on to quiz.
Jennifer Van Geem:
10 more seconds we'll share the results here.
Paul you might want to speak to this as well, but you know if you're having this conversation, five years ago, you know even two three years ago, I think we would really see this more with number two being a lot higher. I think this really is a piece of technology that people are adopting quite quickly.
And, obviously in the chat share your experiences on if you're finding a lot of value you're getting writer feedback on using it if you still think that there's some gaps that need to be looked at as an industry as we're kind of looking forward to what passenger information could be.
Yeah, if you think about it, like your business wouldn't it be amazing if you could have - if you're selling hamburgers or whatever, if you could have your information right in their hands. The power that would be and then all the data, you could get from that. That's what this is think of yourself in a way, as a business.
Where you can give your information, real time information to your passengers, we just really want to know they don't want to stand at a bus stop for longer than they need to they want to know, how do I connect?
These routes together, they have needs for information, you can put it right in their hands. On this APP they don't have to go to your station and look up, if you have a downtown hub look up and see no it's right in their hand and then all the valuable data, you get out of this that Jen just touched on.
It is a phenomenal tool so for those of you who haven't which is more than half of you, I think you're going along the right track for those of you who want it, I would talk to Jen after this.
Jennifer Van Geem:
Then, finally quiz so single choice for both of these they should come up on the screen, the same time, so interesting kind of positioning moving from when we're talking about writer experience and writer need.
This specifically is a survey that was completed earlier this year, looking at writing preferences and looking at behavior. So, I'd love to see how many people are able to get this correct.
What percentage of riders prefer to use mobile Apps to access transit schedules? So this is - people are guessing what they think it is.
Jennifer Van Geem:
Correct multiple choice and then I’ll give everyone the right answer at the end.
Paul Comfort: Okay.
Jennifer Van Geem:
You're able to interact with both at the same time, so the next is what percent of riders use their smartphones to pass time on the bus. This is taking into account any demographic.
Good everyone says. 10 more seconds.
Since there's so many of you on here we don't have a price for if you get it right, but I’m giving you a virtual.
Dave Silva: Virtual plus there's always a prize Jen it's a pat on the back that they give themselves.
Jennifer Van Geem: going to close out here.
So interesting to see a huge a huge difference in what people thought it would be, but quite a few people were correct.
Looking at this so for the first one what percentage of riders prefer to use mobile Apps to access transit schedules is 74%.
So, 32% of you are correct, so when looking at offering passenger information offering that real time, we have 74% of current trends that users, that would expect that functionality and to be able to use that. And then, what percent of riders use their smartphones to pass the time on the bus?
That answer was C, it was 53%.
But it just shows you, where we're seeing things, we all thought it would be the highest amount that 65 but.
Jennifer Van Geem:
When you look at how even knew it is to have data on your phone in the grand scheme or being able to be on your phone and how much it's expanded on who is accessibility to. I mean my sibling is 15 and she's had a phone since she was 13 years old, which is 10 years ago. We wouldn't have seen like it's just become such a component of how we access our day to day lives and, with it being so important to us, the more we can push out information to it, the more successful we're going to be in increasing ridership and adapting to current ridership things with that.
Is it the last? It is.
Jennifer Van Geem:
It is, I just have so many screens that I said okay.
So, when we're looking at just a standard passing information and being able to use it, the feedback that is most valuable when it comes to that is your real time tracking so reducing customer wait times miss bosses, but the real time vehicle tracking and next less information.
You have your trip planning so through MyRide it's like to Google trip planning. To leverage that end to end planning at this time and also allowing for the integration of other transportation methods.
Having the omni channel so as much as some people do have websites as well, like access to a computer for the website, as well as a native APP. There's also the ability to add SMS notification so for those people who may not have data or have limited access to data they can subscribe to the SMS features, to make it even more accessible and, all in all, with these features you do come to that informed rider.
But with that being said, I mean that's not it's not groundbreaking we all understand that, but I think we're looking at as we head into 2023 and when we're talking about driver shortages and we're talking about the service interruptions.
And you know those Sunday series of worrying that you're going to come into your transit agency on a Monday morning and half of your team has all been sick. It’s how can we take that under concept of passenger information and take it to the next level.
How do we make real time even more dynamic and even more trustworthy when it comes to the riders? I think CityBus really is doing that quite well. And even some of the agencies that are on the call right now, are doing something similar, and I hope that they have that experience they can share it in the chat but.
Prior that is what you're seeing on the screen is the intro introduction of service change. Service changes to management.
So, prior to introducing a service interruptions module CityBus, one post messages of the lobby and on buses for planned detours and surface changes so as you can see, Christmas we're not running or there's a water main being replaced on X road, and we need to just service and all those stops are going to be closed - you'd see a paper on board and the transit center you'd see it on the buses and maybe on a website, and that was the full end to end management.
And even if you did those 6 months in advance, we've all been there, where exactly what's going to happen, the moment that happens, the phone starts ringing. And why I didn't know about this, and I don't read what's being posted on the bus and it's too confusing.
And it's just a quick way to really have a lot of issues when it comes to driver to that service, as well as you know, putting a lot of time into answering those calls and being able to pivot your service, so a lot of calling rider frustration.
No wait for the drivers to know where they're supposed to go, if it wasn't done properly so they're looking at their in vehicle MTT with like turn my turn and it's not working, and they don't want to go unless knew the area well so really messy service. So, what CityBus has now is in the event of planned or unplanned detour service interruption.
They can use the service interruptions module that's available in their fixed route system to manage that.
So, it's as simple as just dragging and dropping a teacher and the teacher designer in streets and once that's done it can be immediately pushed out over the air to the drivers in vehicle MTT.
It gets pushed out to any peripherals so to the aba system to make sure it's announcing the right stop and, most importantly, it immediately goes out to the passenger information so as you're seeing in the screenshots here.
A passenger or rider would be able to go on to their site and in real time see that there's a service interruption so whether it was inclement weather, and they weren't going to read service. Whether there was a detour because there's a fire or something's happened, they be able to see that.
They'd see the updated route they'd see if their bus stop was closed and the new blessed stop they had to access. They can see how long the teachers, going to be planned for all that information would be gone it goes out it's done all at the same time, obviously, and this is something that can't be done on a T gfs feed as well.
Then, in addition to that CityBuses able to use the nervous.
Jennifer Van Geem:
News and service interruptions for all the road changes so they push this out to ensure it's going to social media their website, as well as using MyRide, so that you have a multi-channel presence when it comes to communicating up like the most up to date service changes available. So, even in that case where a driver hasn't shown up and you neither need to increase headways for the day or you need to in the worst-case scenario cancel service that can go to a multitude of channels. And we can make that known so people aren't getting up at 6am hoping to get to bless it they're not going to be able to. And once again that's a bit of disaster planning, but I’m sure everyone on this on this webinar had some sort of experience, like that last two years.
So, over the course of code, especially these functions have been incredibly purposeful, and I think moving forward it's unfortunately something that we're still going to need to be able to manage in real time.
So once again very valuable feature that CityBus really taken advantage at super level.
So not looking so much at technology, but a way that CityBus really was able to respond to ridership needs and be that dynamic service. When you're looking at ridership, it's one thing to say we're going to grow ridership, we're going to communicate needs, but how can we take behaviors and leads and turn it into actionable items when it comes to our service?
So, a little bit of a backstory, CityBus has a silver leap route, which is located on Purdue campus, so this is a very traffic road and makes up about 50% of all campus ridership. They were supporting a 15-minute headway at the time, so looking at things you know - they're looking at methods of how they could keep managing that. That headway and one of the things that came out of it, based on ridership feedback was the idea of maybe they could start looking at with the capacity, they had their vehicles out of frequency-based headway.
What they found is when they were going through this process, its students were much more likely to just show up at the bus stop and expect that a bus was coming at some time. They weren't going to the static map, they weren't utilizing MyRide on this road, specifically as they move around campus. They were much more likely to just wait there, use the next plus sign that was present to go - okay my bus is coming in this time and just wait.
They weren't as worried about a vehicle running hot or is that a vehicle this lead, so what CityBus was able to do is they introduced frequency-based headway as a pilot to see if there was a general assurance that if a bus would arrive every 10 minutes, it'd be a better service model for the students.
And it was a great success for them so they would have the next bus displays counting down from 10 assures that no matter within any 7-10 minutes, a rider would be sure that there'd be a bus there to pick them up, instead of worrying about route laundering or anything.
Like that they just ran it on a 10-minute frequency, which is much easier said than done.
So, when you're looking at a conventional back-end system for caddy bl, dispatchers can see it, they can rent water, they can see if the buses hot, they can see if there's lunching that's going to occur.
But when you're looking at the actual drivers, they don't have that capability, when looking at frequency-based headway so show you what they were able to do.
Jennifer Van Geem:
So, as you can see it's a little blurry but it's a real picture that one of our employees, our product director took. But this is what they did from a driver perspective with the four buses that were running this route, to ensure that their buses work punching in the 10-minute frequency. They were actually using MyRide because it was updating every two seconds and so reliable, but they were using MyRide passenger information to make sure that their buses were staying perfectly spread apart.
If a bus started to get too close to the bus in front of, it stops and wait. If it was running a little bit behind it could see that in relativity to the rest of the buses. So, this once again when they're talking about being a thought leader was - a great way to use utilize the passenger information.
And with that being said, we have introduced in an upcoming release like version of release that will be supporting frequency-based headway based on success that city, but not during this time.
That's awesome Jen. So, did the driver like see a red on the screen that said don't go yet, because the other person's only nine minutes ahead or were they just looking at the map and trying to gauge where they were at?
Jennifer Van Geem:
So, there was a service notice that went out that said it kind of was a static word document that says, you should be X amount away from your bus and they had a map. And they use MyRide, there was nothing telling them, they were three minutes ahead, four minutes ahead anything. They purely just use the screen as they're going to stops to make sure that they were not punching and staying that kind of when it was only four buses, it was much easier.
Yeah, you could see it.
Jennifer Van Geem:
Okay yeah far apart.
This is what you know, in the heaviest use areas almost every thinking transit agency is moving to this, and away from time point management. You have to have paper schedules and all that if you have service that's heavily used. This is the way to go. High frequency transit has been really hot trend for the last I’d say seven years here in the US and Canada so don't have to be a large system. You could like this, you could be a mid-sized system, but have a heavily trafficked area.
Just run it like you would a train where they just come every 10 to 15 minutes, people have great confidence in the system, and you know what else, you don't get the whiners as much as what I’m hearing from people in the street. They're not sitting on the bus - it's two minutes late know.
It's coming every 10 to 15 minutes, you can count on it it's going to be there, but they're not looking at 7:15 is supposed to be here, but it didn't get here to 7:16 minutes late. This gives you a little more flexibility to work with, but it also manages the expectations, so I think it's brilliant.
Jennifer Van Geem:
Yeah, absolutely and, think about the students you come to visit like your university, athletes, your your faculty were just coming.
With it, they don't know the schedule.
Jennifer Van Geem:
I mean I wouldn't know schedule either. Just being able to go to any stop along here and being like okay it's 10 minutes, eight minutes, three minutes right. If you're at an airport, you see those trends that are doing the same thing just really great ingenuity on the part of CityBus.
And I realized we're coming for time, and I want to leave time for questions so I’m going to go through these two last parts.
My favorite slide right here.
Jennifer Van Geem:
So, you know where we are headed, I think I was actually on a coffee chat yesterday that Paul was having, and it really stuck out to me something. He said that transit agencies [are] really moving forward the tool for equity and inclusion.
And as we look forward, and we're talking about being able to pivot to the challenges that we're having but looking at the power that we have as well.
When we're looking at constant seeking ways to improve accessibility and remove barriers, to those fit struggling their access to transit. So, on top of having passenger information, top of real time and top of marketing, how can we continue to be inclusive, as another way to grow transit ridership? There's a lot of those who have barriers I’m talking to agencies.
Jennifer Van Geem:
City of Burlington is a great one. They've introduced a program and partner to make it more inclusive for those who have autism making sure that they're comfortable getting on the bus, making sure that we have different mediums for those more comfortable being on a phone or need the text to speech.
And how are we continuing to do that? The answer is it's by having multiple means and passenger information systems that can reach those goals, so making sure that we can move people from point A to Point B quickly affordably. And doing so in a way that people feel confident, for the information they have and that's what the integrated ecosystem that you're seeing here on a on a mockup.
Making sure there's that functionality and its purpose built and that you're having a way to manage all these needs in your conventional transit system.
Once again, we can't manage everything that will come our way. We can ensure we make the best use of our resources and continue to do everything we can to pivot our service to meet these needs. So, as you're seeing you've got the Infotainment that we're going to talk about you have.
Someone accessing MyRide through the IV er or an SMS because they don't feel comfortable navigating those things on their phone to that degree. We have the next bus signs coming up in the wayside signs and being able to use the APP, and the website and all those come together to make sure that really will be inclusive and equitable as possible.
Before we get to questions, what's the final piece in this we've talked about on demand a little bit? We talked about passenger information and being agile and dynamic but what's the next generation? Where [are] we headed?
There are agencies on this call that have deployed this as well, and this is looking to be the next step for CityBus as well. But, looking at something called Infotainment. so CityBus was actually the inspiration for the development of her Infotainment system. Our product director went on site quite a few years ago and saw that CityBus was using TVs.
In there, a lot of different areas, whether it's their university, housing, in the transit hubs- just to take MyRide. They used to feed that they figured out themselves - put it up on the TVs and said - Well, this is how we're showing people who don't have phones that real time information. We want to give them the same experience that the self like the cell phone users are having, the ones who have computers are having and they really became kind of behind. What, why we did Infotainment and how we can be more dynamic.
As you're seeing on the screen here, the Infotainment options are part of the MyRide ecosystem as well and share the same information available on the APP and website. But make it much more accessible in different mediums. So, you're seeing the touch kiosks that that gentleman's using, you're seeing on bus displays.
And they meet a lot of those different requirements. We're looking at making ridership more accessible and growing it. They're designed with the ADA compliance so think about someone who is visually impaired. They can access a button for text to speech, it can be designed to be high contrast or large font options. The announcements can be set to be dynamically triggered so if someone can't recognize that the screen is there, they will dynamically trigger that.
We're seeing an influx of a very dynamic demographics, so it can be triggered to be set in 37 different languages, so if you have a huge population of Spanish speakers or French speakers, or any of those things, it can be set to do so.
And then, with that there's the familiarity. We all have a story that we can share Paul you have one, I have one where.
We've gone to a new city and we don't know how to access the system, and if we had something like this that was easy to access, we'd be have been much more willing to access the transit system.
Jennifer Van Geem:
And then, finally, [we're looking at] some people are looking at going fair, free, others are still looking at a huge farebox loss when it comes to decrease ridership and funding. We don't know where that's headed. You can use signage in these things as a different means of revenue collection. So, when we're looking at advertisement, we think of something on the bus, whether it be for campaigns local restaurants. You just kind of put those details on the bus or on a bench but this allows things to be much more dynamic. You could have advertisement running on these kiosks, even have advertisements running on the buses. And they can be set to be triggered geographically.
So, in the case of CityBus if you're seeing these in vehicle displays, they could use these where as soon as it's coming on to Purdue, they automatically switch with websites. I mean with advertisements that are specific to Purdue so maybe the local pub or some events that are happening on campus.
They're advertising the game; I mean Omaha metro. They use these every time they have a game and they're able to share that information. Once again, we can talk about passenger information, but where is that headed, and I truly think the next generation of that is something like these dynamic displays.
Jenn Van Geem