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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Survey." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26907.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Survey." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26907.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Survey." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26907.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Survey." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26907.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Survey." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26907.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Survey." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26907.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Survey." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26907.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Survey." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26907.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Survey." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26907.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Survey." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26907.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Survey." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26907.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Survey." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26907.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Survey." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26907.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Survey." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26907.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Survey." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26907.
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Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

18 This chapter describes the purpose, methodology, and results of the survey of U.S. transit agencies that use CDO in providing ADA paratransit services. Purpose The purposes of the survey were to achieve the following: • Identify transit agencies that use CDO or have used it in the past. • Learn how transit agencies are using CDO in ADA paratransit scheduling and dispatching. • Learn about transit agencies’ challenges in using CDO and how they have addressed these challenges. • Learn about the benefits that transit agencies have observed to result from CDO. • Identify transit agencies for more detailed discussions in the form of service profiles. The remainder of this chapter summarizes the survey methodology and results. Methodology The research team developed a set of survey questions intended to achieve the survey pur- poses. This set of survey questions was reviewed by the synthesis panel and revised with input from the panel. The next step was to create the online survey, known as the SB-36 survey, from the survey ques- tions. (The appendix provides this final survey instrument.) The online survey was developed in Qualtrics (an online survey tool) and pilot-tested by one synthesis panel member and two transit agencies. The survey was launched in March 2022 and remained open for responses through April 2022. When initial efforts did not bring in as many completed responses as hoped, additional efforts to identify candidate survey respondents were pursued in May and June 2022. Target agencies were identified in four ways: 1. In TTI’s interviews with the technology vendors, some of the vendors identified transit agen- cies that they thought were using CDO to support their ADA paratransit services. TTI fol- lowed up on the leads with telephone calls or emails (when a contact’s telephone number was not provided or could not be found) to confirm such usage and to discuss the contact’s willing- ness to participate in the SB-36 survey. TTI then sent a formal invitation to participate in the survey by email to those who agreed. The email included a link to the survey. This approach generated the highest yield of survey response, though some of the vendors were mistaken about some of their users actually employing CDO in support of ADA paratransit services. C H A P T E R   2 Survey

Survey 19   2. One technology vendor, concerned about preserving the privacy of clients, agreed to send the invitation email (with the survey link) to its users it believed employed its CDO technology in support of ADA paratransit services. Therefore, this was a self-selecting approach. While this generated a handful of additional useful responses, just as many responses came from (more rural) transit agencies that were using the technology in support of general-public dial-a-ride services. These transit agencies started the survey and aborted when the focus of the survey became evident (even though it was discussed in detail in the survey introduction). 3. TTI attended the user conference of one technology vendor in hopes that the vendor’s staff who were interviewed there could also identify some of the vendor’s attendees (or other users) who took advantage of the technology’s CDO capabilities in support of ADA para- transit. This approach proved to be only partly successful: the four users identified by the vendor were not, in fact, implementing CDO; however, one of these users was able to iden- tify another transit agency that it believed was using CDO in support of ADA paratransit service. This lead was pursued and confirmed, and the transit agency agreed to participate in the survey. 4. TTI identified three other agencies because of the authors’ knowledge of the industry, two of which were drawn from previous TCRP synthesis efforts. As a result of these efforts, 24 transit agencies were targeted for the survey. Of these 24 agen- cies, 11 did, in fact, use CDO in support of their ADA paratransit, and they completed the survey in full. These 11 agencies are the following: • Abilene, TX—CityLink. • Austin, TX—Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority. • Billings, MT—MET Transit. • Bowling Green, KY—GO bg Transit. • Green Bay, WI—Green Bay Metro. • Lubbock, TX—Citibus. • Oxnard/Western Ventura County, CA—Gold Coast Transit District. • Sheboygan, WI—Shoreline Metro. • St. Petersburg/Pinellas County, FL—Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority. • Summit County, UT—High Valley Transit. • Wenatchee, WA—Link Transit. Figure 1 shows the locations of these 11 transit agencies along with the names of their ADA paratransit services. Results Characteristics of Responding Agencies Of the 11 transit agencies, six are city transit departments, one is operated by a county, and four are regional entities. Two agencies are located in the southeastern United States, three are in Texas, two are in the midwestern United States, and four are in the western United States. ADA Paratransit Ridership Figure 2 shows the responding agencies’ ADA paratransit ridership in October 2019 and October 2021. The decline in ridership from 2019 to 2021 was most likely a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. High Valley Transit in Summit County, UT, did not include any data for October 2019 because the service started in May 2021. Link Transit in Wenatchee, WA, provided annual numbers for 2019 and 2021; TTI divided these numbers by 12 to estimate the monthly totals for October 2019 and October 2021.

20 Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services Figure 1. Locations of the responding transit agencies. Figure 2. Responding agencies’ ADA paratransit ridership. The smallest responding transit agency, High Valley Transit, provided approximately 200 trips in October 2021. The largest, Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (CapMetro) in Austin, TX, provided approximately 45,000 trips in October 2021. Service Mix Figure 3 shows the mix of vehicles used by the responding transit agencies in providing ADA paratransit service, how many use non-dedicated vehicles, and how many use a mix of dedicated non-dedicated vehicles. Seven agencies (64 percent) use only dedicated vehicles, one agency (9 percent) uses only non-dedicated vehicles, and three agencies (27 percent) use a mix of dedi- cated and non-dedicated vehicles. Of the 10 agencies that use dedicated vehicles, six (60 percent) own the vehicles, and two (20 percent) use vehicles provided by a contractor. The remaining two agencies (20 percent) use a combination of their own and contractor-owned vehicles.

Survey 21   Seven of the responding agencies (64 percent) carried 100 percent of ADA paratransit and other commingled ridership on dedicated vehicles in October 2019 and in October 2021. Two of the remaining responding agencies increased the percentage of riders on dedicated vehicles (as opposed to non-dedicated vehicles) by 2 percent and 29 percent from October 2019 to October 2021. Over the same period, one agency decreased the percentage of riders on dedicated vehicles from 100 percent to 54 percent. One agency did not provide an answer for this question. Reservations, Scheduling, Dispatching Responsibilities and Practices Figure 4 shows which entity (the responding transit agency or a contractor) is responsible for ADA paratransit reservations. Seven responding agencies (64 percent) are responsible for ADA paratransit reservations, while four (36 percent) contract these reservations out. Figure 5 shows which entity (the responding transit agency or a contractor) is responsible for ADA paratransit scheduling. Six responding agencies (55 percent) are responsible for ADA paratransit scheduling, and five (45 percent) contract the scheduling out. One of the five (High Valley Transit serving Summit County, UT) noted that new ADA paratransit riders are some- times more comfortable scheduling their trips through the agency staff person assigned to welcome them to the service. Another agency, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) in St. Petersburg, FL, is the only one with a mixed service model: PSTA is responsible for reserva- tions and estimated time-of-arrival (ETA) calls but vests other call center functions with its operations contractor. The other agencies generally take an all-or-nothing approach in that all functions are contracted out, or no functions are contracted out. Figure 6 shows which entity (the responding transit agency or a contractor) is responsible for ADA paratransit dispatching. Six responding agencies (55 percent) are responsible for this function, and five (45 percent) contract it out. Figure 3. Vehicles used by the responding agencies to operate their ADA paratransit service. Figure 4. Entity responsible for ADA paratransit reservations.

22 Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services Figure 5. Entity responsible for ADA paratransit scheduling. Figure 6. Entity responsible for ADA paratransit dispatching. Figure 7 shows which entity (the responding transit agency or a contractor) is responsible for ADA paratransit ETA calls. Seven responding agencies (64 percent) are responsible for these calls, while four (36 percent) contract the calls out. Figure 8 shows which entity (the responding transit agency or a contractor) is responsible for ADA paratransit operations. Six responding agencies (55 percent) directly operate the ADA paratransit service, while five (45 percent) use a contractor or contractors. One of the respond- ing agencies, CityLink in Abilene, TX, has a service mix. The agency operates dedicated vehicles, and two contractors—a taxi company and a human service agency—operate non-dedicated vehicles. The ownership of dedicated vehicles varies. In some cases, CitiLink has provided all dedicated vehicles. In other cases, the contractor has provided these vehicles, and in a few cases, a mixture of agency-owned and contractor-owned vehicles was used for dedicated service. Given the similarities in the results shown in Figures 4 through 8 as a set, it is evident that (1) all the transit agencies responding to the survey have placed the scheduling and dispatching Figure 7. Entity responsible for ADA paratransit ETA calls.

Survey 23   function with the entity that operates the service, and (2) the entity that books reservations also handles customers’ service-day calls. Table 1 summarizes the ADA paratransit trip reservation and booking policies used by the 11 responding agencies. Almost all of these agencies accept next-day trip reservations (91 per- cent) and advance reservations (82 percent). All of the responding agencies (100 percent) also provide subscription trips. Eight (73 percent) of the 11 agencies provide same-day trips if space is available. A few of the agencies do not allow advance reservations earlier than next-day reservations. As discussed in Chapter 4, such a policy directly affects the need to run optimization processes in advance. Table 2 summarizes the extent to which riders can book ADA paratransit trips via an app, a website, or email. More than half of the responding agencies allow riders to book next-day trips and advance trips via an app or website. Fewer than half of the responding agencies allow booking of other types of trips via an app or website, and fewer than half allow any type of ADA paratransit trip to be booked by email. All of the responding agencies allow riders to book trips by phone. Table 3 summarizes the responding agencies’ practices for scheduling next-day and advance reservation bookings. Nine responding agencies (82 percent) use real-time scheduling, one (9 percent) uses delayed scheduling, and one (9 percent) significantly modifies real-time sched- uling solutions. Figure 9 shows the largest number of dispatchers that the responding agencies have on duty at a given time. Eight responding agencies (73 percent) have no more than three dispatchers on duty at any given time, one agency (9 percent) has four dispatchers on duty at any given time, and one (9 percent) has 10 dispatchers on duty at any given time (CapMetro in Austin, TX). One agency did not provide an answer to this question. Figure 8. Entity responsible for ADA paratransit operations. Policy Number of Agencies Percent of Agencies Next-day reservations 10 91% Advance reservations 9 82% Subscription trips/standing order requests 11 100% Same-day service (if space is available) 8 75% Note: Agencies could choose multiple answers. Table 1. ADA paratransit reservation and booking policies.

24 Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services Type of ADA Paratransit Trip App or Web-Based Platform Email Number of Agencies Percent of Agencies Number of Agencies Percent of Agencies Next-day trip 9 82% 4 36% Advance trip 7 64% 3 27% Subscription trip 2 18% 3 27% Same-day trip 4 36% 2 18% Not applicable 3 27% 8 73% Note: Agencies could choose multiple answers. Table 2. Methods of booking ADA paratransit trips. Scheduling Practice Number of Responses Percent of Responses Real-time scheduling 9 82% Delayed scheduling 1 9% Other* 1 9% Total 11 100% *Real time with significant modifications. Table 3. Scheduling practices for next-day and advance reservation bookings. Figure 9. Largest number of dispatchers on duty at the same time.

Survey 25   The transit agencies’ dispatchers and, in some cases, other staff communicate with drivers and riders. Eight responding agencies (73 percent) indicated that all of their dispatchers communicate with both drivers and riders regarding service-day issues. Two agencies (18 percent) have certain dispatchers who communicate with drivers and other dispatchers who communicate with riders about service-day issues. Three agencies (27 percent) stated that all service-day calls from riders come into the call center, where reservation agents or customer service representatives handle most of the service-day issues and transfer calls that they cannot handle to dispatchers. Three other agencies (27 percent) indicated that dispatchers communicate only with drivers, while riders communicate only with reservation agents or customer service agents regarding service-day issues. Another three (27 percent) have a designated dispatcher per shift or a dispatcher group that is responsible for proactive dispatching (i.e., identifying upcoming problems and solving them before they become real-time problems). Technologies Used Figure 10 shows the percentage of responding agencies that use the available brands of booking, scheduling, and dispatching technology. Fifty-five percent (six agencies) use Ecolane, 18 percent (two agencies) use Spare Labs, 9 percent (one agency) use Trapeze, and another 18 percent (two agencies) use Via Mobility. Three responding agencies (27 percent) use the technology only for ADA paratransit service and, in some cases, for both ADA paratransit trips and trips made by other specific populations such as seniors. Seven agencies (64 percent) use the technology for ADA (or coordinated) para- transit service and other on-demand services. One agency (9 percent) uses the technology for ADA paratransit service, other on-demand services, and fixed-route service. Dispatcher-Driver Communication Table 4 summarizes how the responding agencies’ dispatchers and drivers communicate. Three responding agencies (27 percent) use in-vehicle MDTs supplemented by voice radio, and eight (73 percent) use in-vehicle tablets supported by voice radio. Figure 10. Brand of booking, scheduling, and dispatching technology. Communication Method Number of Responses Percent of Responses In-vehicle MDTs supplemented by voice radio 3 27% In-vehicle tablets supplemented by voice radio 8 73% Total 11 100% Table 4. Method of dispatcher-driver communication.

26 Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services Use of CDO All 11 of the responding agencies have CDO available as a standard feature of their supporting technology, and all 11 use it. Specifically, all the agencies use CDO after the scheduling process has been completed on the day before and throughout the service day; some also use the same or similar optimization processes as part of their scheduling function prior to turning it over to the dispatchers or CDO. Still others have virtually automated the traditional scheduling function. Table 5 shows the extent to which CDO provides the flexibility to solve specific types of problems. Table 6 shows the CDO parameters that the responding agencies can configure. Table 7 summarizes the responding transit agencies’ reasons for acquiring and using CDO capability. Impacts of CDO Reduction of Service-Day Issues Figure 11 shows that 73 percent of the responding transit agencies agreed that CDO reduced the number of real-time service-day issues requiring immediate dispatcher action. Improved Productivity Figure 12 shows that 55 percent of the responding transit agencies agreed that CDO improved productivity (i.e., trips per revenue vehicle hour). Across those six agencies that provided Problem CDO Helps to Solve Number of Responses Percent of Responses Generally optimizing productivity by filling holes created by cancellations or no-shows 11 100% Reassigning trips that are projected to be picked up late 11 100% Reassigning trips that trigger a maximum onboard travel time 8 73% Reassigning trips that trigger vehicle capacity violations 7 64% Scheduling unscheduled trips 10 91% Note: Agencies could choose multiple answers. Table 5. Flexibility of CDO to solve specific problems. CDO Parameter Number of Responses Percent of Responses Setting how frequently a process is initiated 6 55% Setting the time frame for the search 8 73% Anchoring the confirmed pickup time 7 74% Weighting the balance of service efficiency versus service quality 9 82% Other* 5 45% Note: Agencies could choose multiple answers. *Other responses included pickup times, load times, maximum onboard time, maximum ETA, maximum deviation for shared rides, and “too many [parameters] to be truly effective.” Table 6. Configurable CDO parameters.

Survey 27   Reason Number of Responses Percent of Responses To improve the productivity of the dedicated fleet and reduce overall costs 8 73% To improve on-time performance 7 64% Our dispatch staff was consumed with responding to real- time problems and was unable (or did not have the time) to identify and solve upcoming problems before they manifested themselves in real time 4 36% None of our dispatchers had the requisite skill set for proactive dispatching 1 9% We saw it as an opportunity to improve the quality of dispatching 8 73% Other* 3 27% Note: Agencies could choose multiple answers. *Other responses included replacing manual scheduling, providing a tool that allows for better oversight of the contractor, and purchased as part of a service order for microtransit. Table 7. Reasons for acquiring and using CDO. Figure 11. Did CDO reduce the number of real-time service-day issues requiring immediate dispatcher action? Figure 12. Did CDO improve productivity?

28 Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services before-and-after data, the change in productivity ranged from an increase of 8 to 31 percent (“before- and-after” refers to conditions before and after the implementation of continuous dynamic optimi- zation). The average change in on-time performance was a 17 percent increase. The median change was a 15 percent increase. One responding agency explained that CDO allowed it to also reduce the number of vehicles in revenue service while serving the same number of trips. Reduced Operating Cost Figure 13 shows that 64 percent of the responding transit agencies agreed that CDO reduced oper- ating costs. Across the six agencies that provided before-and-after data, the change in unit operating costs ranged from a 30 percent decrease to a 4 percent increase. The average change in operating costs was a 13 percent reduction. The median change was a 15 percent reduction. One agency noted that it was difficult to attribute changes in unit operating cost solely to CDO. Improved On-Time Performance Figure 14 shows that 46 percent of the responding transit agencies agreed that CDO improved on-time performance. Across the four agencies that provided before-and-after data, the change in on-time performance ranged from a 9 percent decrease to a 5 percent increase. While Figure 14 also shows that on-time performance declined for 45 percent of the agencies, all had significant increases in productivity, including reductions in revenue vehicles and revenue hours, the ability to accommodate more trips, or both. Across all the respondents, the average change in on-time performance was a 1 percent reduction, while the median change was a 1 percent increase. Reduction in the Number of Dispatchers Figure 15 shows that only 27 percent of the responding transit agencies were able to reduce the number of dispatchers because of CDO, while 46 percent were not able to reduce the number of dispatchers because of the need for dispatch coverage and because the dispatchers had other call center duties. Figure 13. Did CDO reduce operating costs? Figure 14. Did CDO improve on-time performance?

Survey 29   Reduction in the Number of Schedulers Figure 16 shows that only 18 percent of the responding transit agencies were able to reduce the number of schedulers because of CDO. These transit agencies noted that they were able to do this primarily because they relied more on automated optimization not only for the service day but also for days preceding the service day. One agency with staff that does both scheduling and dispatching commented that reducing “manual” scheduling allowed it to expand dispatching for other modes of scheduling and on Saturdays while expanding the dispatcher role to include assisting with fare payments during the service window. Reduction in Scheduler/Dispatcher Labor Costs Figure 17 shows that 27 percent of the responding transit agencies were able to reduce dispatcher and scheduler labor costs because of CDO. Across the four agencies that provided before-and- after data, one (the same agency that reduced the number of dispatchers by 50 percent) reduced dispatcher and scheduler labor costs by 40 percent. Figure 15. Did CDO allow the agency to reduce the number of dispatchers? Figure 16. Did CDO allow the agency to reduce the number of schedulers? Figure 17. Did CDO reduce dispatcher and scheduler labor costs?

30 Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services Reduction in Customer Complaints Figure 18 shows that 55 percent of the responding transit agencies connected a reduction in customer complaints to the use of CDO. Across the four agencies that provided before-and-after data, the change in customer complaints as a result of CDO ranged from a 100 percent decrease to a 50 percent increase. The average change in customer complaints was a 56 percent reduction. The median change was a 65 percent reduction. Another responding agency reported that customer complaints decreased from “many” to “few.” One agency indicated that customer complaints decreased not solely because of CDO but also because of changes in policies, procedures, and the expectations of agency staff. General Impact on Service Performance Figure 19 shows that 73 percent of the responding agencies agreed that CDO improved system performance. No agencies believed that system performance was worse. Overall Satisfaction with CDO Eight (73 percent) of the responding agencies indicated that the CDO function met their expectations. Three (27 percent) indicated that their expectations were met under certain condi- tions. In these three cases, the first agency stated that CDO met its expectations for optimization up until the start of drivers’ shifts, noting that this issue has since been resolved by the technology vendor. The second stated that the system “mostly” met its expectations but suggested that the industry’s expectations for CDO are too low. The third agency reported that it does not yet have enough data to make a determination but is hopeful that CDO will improve efficiency. Overall, six (55 percent) of the responding agencies indicated that they were “very satisfied” with it. Three (27 percent) were “satisfied,” two (18 percent) were “neutral,” and none indicated that they were “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied.” Figure 18. Did CDO reduce customer complaints? Figure 19. Was system performance worse after CDO was deployed?

Survey 31   CDO Implementation and Deployment Challenges Table 8 lists the challenges encountered by the responding agencies in using CDO. When available, the agencies’ solutions to these challenges are provided. Lessons Learned The responding agencies identified the following lessons learned from their experiences with CDO: • It is very important to understand the basics of the CDO algorithm so that agencies know which elements of the service they can affect, which elements they can prioritize, and which parameters they can change. • CDO has the potential to reduce deadhead time by more efficiently grouping passengers on vehicles, but agencies have to be careful that the CDO system does not try to put too many passengers using wheelchairs on a single vehicle. (Author’s note: parameters may need to be modified to prohibit this event.) • The reduced need for manual scheduling as a result of successfully implementing CDO can allow agencies to revise how they use operations staff. Dispatchers who previously did a signifi- cant amount of manual scheduling can be assigned other duties and employed more effectively and productively if their scheduling workload is reduced. • CDO can provide additional operational data that the agency can use for decision making. • CDO can improve the transit agencies’ ability to adapt more readily to changes in the operating environment. • CDO can show transit agency staff different ways to improve efficiency and stabilize service delivery. Challenge Solution The learning curve to understand the CDO function Continuous training and time Changing old behavior Continuous training and time Had to turn it off due to COVID-19 Time If tablets are down, the agency cannot move trips or make changes in the system Turn off CDO until tablets are restored The learning curve for operators and dispatchers Support and training from the technology provider No major challenges Not applicable Having the right riders’ Medicaid paperwork on board All drivers take all Medicaid paperwork Getting dispatchers to not touch the system None given Reacquainting dispatchers with proactive dispatching None given Getting everyone away from paper Ban paper manifests after one week Confusing riders by updating ETAs Better communication with riders; cap the amount of time that a pickup window can expand CDO resulting in trips with long deadheads Tweak settings to eliminate long deadhead trips Scheduling breaks for drivers of the dedicated fleet Still need to manually put in breaks Dynamic optimization not occurring after a run starts Vendor provided an upgraded optimization process Drivers not liking it Limit driver access to only the next trip Table 8. CDO implementation and deployment challenges.

32 Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services • Dispatchers still need to monitor the status of trips during peak times. If the CDO software cannot readily find a vehicle, a time window for a trip, or neither, the trip might go unscheduled. • Going paperless with respect to driver manifests can present opportunities to use CDO. • Someone at the agency should be able to explain CDO to stakeholders and decision makers even if it is being used by a contractor. • Agencies that use CDO should make sure that the software both allows them to manually move trips in real time and permits optimization in real time. • Dispatchers and operations staff have to accept that CDO can work. Lessons learned are further discussed in Chapters 3 and 4.

Next: Chapter 3 - Transit Agency Profiles »
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Continuous dynamic optimization (CDO), as applied to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) paratransit services, is an automated process by which a scheduling and dispatching technology continuously or frequently considers additional trips just booked, changes to booked trips, cancellations, and day-of-service events to solve problems or to take advantage of opportunities. In view of those changes, the CDO process then re-optimizes the assignment of trips to achieve the transit agency’s desired balance of service/cost efficiency and service quality.

The TRB Transit Cooperative Research Program's TCRP Synthesis 168: Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services documents the current use of CDO for ADA paratransit where optimization results in improving the efficiency of the route schedule and the overall productivity of the on-demand service without affecting the customer’s confirmed pickup time window.

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