December 2, 2019
Riddle us this: What do all public transit agencies have in common? If you said coffee machines and access to bus washes, well technically yes! But that’s not the point.
The answer we’re actually thinking of is the sheer amount of time, money, and effort all agencies spend on keeping transit service reliable. In the name of reliability, schedulers spend weeks building realistic schedules; planners make the case for capital projects that keep service running smoothly; and operations teams spend their entire careers actively managing vehicle fleets. And with reliability at the top of the list of how riders evaluate transit versus other modes, this expenditure is crucial for the success of transit.
That’s why it’s so surprising that most transit agencies share another, less uplifting attribute: a glaring blindspot when it comes to their vehicle operator data. Are operators consistently leaving their first stop early? Are they taking their breaks to stay fresh and focused? Are they using recovery time to help keep things on track throughout the day? Most agencies rely on rider complaints to answer these kinds of questions, which is kind of like building a house of reliability on a foundation of quicksand.
The costs of this blindspot are very real:
We believe it’s high time that agencies start looking into their operator data blindspot, and we’ve built a new module to do it right.
We’re excited to announce our latest module, Operator Reports, the first transit tool to give agencies a neutral, data-driven perspective into how operators are driving their routes and executing their schedules.
With Operator Reports, agencies can quickly see which operators are driving routes per the schedule, who might need coaching, and whether operator-related reliability issues are even operator-related at all or if they stem from unrealistic schedules.
“Operator Reports has made it simpler, quicker, and easier to get information for all of our operators. It’s changed how we look at on-time performance.”
— Ralph Faufata, VP of Transportation, TheBus (Honolulu, HI)
Here’s how it works:
Much like Swiftly’s On-Time Performance and Headways modules, Operator Reports shows how well actual service keeps to scheduled service; but unlike existing Swiftly modules, Operator Reports slices the data at the individual operator level, allowing you to quickly identify anomalies within operator performance and dig in to find the answers that will boost reliability.
With Operator Reports, it’s simple to see which operators, if any, are consistently leaving their stops early or late, and if so, who else is having similar issues on similar routes. Metrics are filterable by route, time of day, and number of stops so you can get to the heart of these types of issues quickly and easily.
Operator Reports also allows you to analyze how your operators are using layover. Are they taking longer breaks to compensate for early arrivals (a good thing)? Are they taking long breaks even when they’re running late (a not-so-good thing)? Are they getting the breaks they deserve throughout all this (an essential thing)? Now it’s possible to get an intuitive, visual representation of layovers in terms of what affects reliability and operator morale most.
If it’s clear that certain operators need coaching, Operator Reports also shows exactly where along a route they’re losing contact with the schedule, allowing for candid conversations about why. For example, maybe an operator is leaving certain timepoints a little early to ‘build up credit’ for poor traffic conditions later in the route. This would be an excellent opportunity to talk with both the operator and the scheduling team about how the schedule and its execution affect reliability — and actionable recommendations that would improve service.
Don’t take our word for it — transit agencies are already using Operator Reports to improve the reliability of transit service in their communities. Here’s what our partners are saying about Operator Reports:
No matter what city you’re in, your transit riders want reliable service. Thankfully, there’s less and less guesswork involved in achieving this nowadays. It’s simply a matter of getting the right data so you can follow the numbers to the quickest on-time performance wins.
With Operator Reports, gone are the days of “squeaky-wheel” operator analysis and being forced to look at ad hoc customer complaints for insights into reliability. Here are the days of quickly finding opportunities in easily accessible data.
Want to see how Swiftly’s Operator Reports module could work at your agency? Reach out here for a demo!
See how Swiftly can improve service reliability at your agency with an in-depth demo.