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Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services (2023)

Chapter: Chapter 3 - Transit Agency Profiles

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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 3 - Transit Agency Profiles." 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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33   This chapter presents the service profiles of the following 11 transit agencies that responded to the survey: • 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. The original work plan for this synthesis called for the development of five in-depth case examples drawn from the survey respondents. Because of the initial poor survey response, a decision was made to develop transit agency profiles instead. With subsequent efforts to expand the number of survey respondents, 11 transit agencies were eventually found to be using CDO in support of their ADA paratransit services, and they completed the survey. The main purpose of these profiles is to create a picture of each transit agency’s experience with CDO based on the following information: • Background on how the agency uses CDO, why and when it implemented CDO, and what its goals were in doing so. • The impacts of CDO on the agency’s ADA paratransit service—focusing not only on changes in service/cost performance, on-time performance (OTP), and complaint frequency but also on how scheduling/dispatching processes or staffing changed with CDO. • Challenges and issues faced when implementing CDO. • How scheduling and/or dispatching processes or staffing changed with CDO. • Lessons learned from implementing and using CDO. To understand the agencies’ experience with CDO, it is also important to first understand the context in which CDO is being used. Therefore, the profiles also include information on the following features of each agency: • Service model of the ADA paratransit operations, including the division of responsibilities between the transit agencies and any contractors used. • Service area and ridership statistics. • Reservation and booking policies. • Booking, scheduling, and dispatch technology used. • Scheduling and dispatching practices before CDO was in use. C H A P T E R   3 Transit Agency Profiles

34 Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services Abilene, TX—CityLink Exhibit 1 summarizes the characteristics of the CityLink system. Use of CDO CityLink uses the CDO function daily after the scheduling process has been completed the day before and throughout the service day. CityLink first used CDO in September 2021 when the agency transitioned to Ecolane, and CDO is a standard capability of the Ecolane software. CityLink’s goals in using CDO are to improve the productivity of the dedicated fleet and reduce Background Descriptive Statistics Agency: City of Abilene/CityLink Name of Service: ADA paratransit Other Eligible Riders: Other persons with disabilities outside of the typical ¾-mile boundary and clients of sponsoring human service agencies Primary Operator: CityLink Overflow Contractors: LynkUp (a local taxi company) and Disability in Action (DIA), a human service agency, although DIA has not been available to serve in this capacity for 1.5 months because of driver shortages Booking, Scheduling, and Dispatch Technology: Ecolane since 2021 (also used for on-demand, general public microtransit) Service Area Population: 120,099 2020 Demand-Response Passenger Trips • 49,948 directly operated • 7,796 purchased Source: National Transit Database (NTD) 2020. Service Model Reservation and Booking Policies CityLink handles all reservations and scheduling, as well as dispatching for its in-house operation. CityLink operates dedicated vehicles. LynkUp provides overflow service with non-dedicated taxi cabs. DIA also provides overflow service on a non-dedicated basis (when its vehicle is not otherwise being used to transport its own clients). Next-day reservations Advance reservations (no maximum number-of-days limit) Subscription trips/standing order requests Division of Responsibilities Agency Responsibilities *Dedicated vehicles Contractor Responsibilities **Non-dedicated vehiclesOPERATIONS* ETA CALLSDISPATCHING* SCHEDULINGRESERVATIONS OPERATIONS** DISPATCHING** Exhibit 1. The CityLink system.

Transit Agency Profiles 35   Scheduling Practices Dispatching Practices Real-time scheduling (at booking) Schedulers, using the scheduling software, may later reassign trips, batch-schedule (re-optimize) trips, or assign trips to overflow providers. Riders’ service-day calls are routed to the call center line where reservation agents/customer service representatives handle most of the service-day issues and transfer calls that they cannot handle to dispatch. All dispatchers handle these transferred calls. Since CDO was implemented and tablets were provided to overflow providers, dispatchers have been able to communicate with all drivers. For CityLink vehicles, dispatcher-driver communication is supplemented by radio. Prior to transitioning to Ecolane, CityLink used a designated dispatcher per shift who was responsible for proactive dispatching. This function has largely been replaced with CDO. Maximum dispatchers on duty: 3 Impacts of CDO Productivity: Improved Operating Cost per Trip: Decreased On-Time Performance: Declined Real-Time Dispatcher Interventions: Decreased Customer Complaints: Decreased System Performance: Improved Expectations Met: Yes Level of Satisfaction: Very satisfied Exhibit 1. (Continued). overall costs, to improve on-time performance, to make more effective use of dispatchers, and to improve the overall quality of dispatching. With these goals in mind, the agency uses CDO for the following purposes: • Scheduling unscheduled trips. • Reassigning trips that are projected to be picked up late. • Reassigning trips that trigger vehicle capacity violations (e.g., if a different vehicle type was swapped in at pull-out). • Reassigning trips that exceed a maximum onboard travel time. • Generally optimizing productivity by filling holes created by cancellations or no-shows. Impacts of CDO CityLink reported that CDO resulted in improvements in productivity, operating costs, the need for real-time dispatcher interventions, customer complaints, and system performance. Pro- ductivity increased 23 percent (from 1.91 to 2.35 trips per revenue vehicle hour), operating costs decreased 2 percent, and customer complaints decreased 100 percent (from five to zero) as a result of implementing CDO. In the survey, the CityLink general manager noted that on-time performance decreased from 95 percent in October 2019 to 86 percent in October 2021, the main difference being the change

36 Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services in software. However, in a follow-up interview, he noted that the 95 percent was overinflated from the previous software and that the actual on-time performance in October 2019 was probably in the 88 to 90 percent range. He also added that while 86 percent is an accurate current depiction of on-time performance, it can be as high as 98 percent on a given day. When productivity increases (as is the case in Abilene), on-time performance typically declines. The service mix (i.e., the percentage of ridership on dedicated vehicles versus non-dedicated vehicles) increased from 75 percent/25 percent in October 2019 to 97 percent/3 percent in October 2021. The dramatic shift occurred because CityLink was able to carry more trips on the in-house fleet, attributed in part to Ecolane’s optimization capabilities (including CDO), but the shift was also attributable to the availability of contractor drivers. In October 2019, LynkUp (the taxi cab contractor) was experiencing extreme driver shortages and challenges with driver recruitment and retention, while DIA (the human service agency contractor) has not been able to provide any overflow service because of its driver shortages. The increased demand for trips therefore forced CityLink to provide more trips with fewer drivers, which, as alluded to previously, has contributed to some of the on-time performance issues. The CityLink general manager added that if it were not for the transition to Ecolane with its CDO capability, CityLink would not have been able to serve the current volume of trips. While the number of schedulers/dispatchers did not change as a result of implementing CDO largely because of coverage needs, the technology enabled the dispatchers to focus more on real-time issues because the proactive dispatching is automated. Moreover, because of CDO, CityLink management reported that the scheduling function is not as labor intensive as it once was. With CDO, leaving certain trips unassigned is acceptable because CDO will take advan- tage of opportunities, such as cancellations, without having to force trips into already crowded schedules. In addition, prior to the transition to Ecolane, CityLink’s dispatchers did not communicate directly with overflow drivers. Trip lists were sent to the contractors on the evening before the service day, and the overflow drivers recorded their service data on their logs. These completed driver logs were later submitted by the contractors to CityLink dispatch for data entry and verifica- tion. In order to use CDO, the overflow providers needed to be on the same system as CityLink, so the agency gave them the same tablets that its drivers were using. This approach allowed for true service-day optimization that included assigning trips to the overflow contractors or taking back trips that had been assigned to them. Challenges/Issues CityLink reported that there was a short learning curve to understand how the CDO function operated. The transition from scheduling manually and one trip at a time with the previous system to automated real-time and batch-scheduling processes also took some learning. But this issue was resolved with continuous training and time. Lessons Learned CityLink recommended that agencies implementing CDO be aware of trips that become unscheduled because of time constraints on the vehicle. If the system cannot easily find a vehicle or time for a trip, the trip will go unscheduled. Dispatchers must constantly monitor this situation during peak times to avoid missed trips. Because of the nature of the continuous optimization, drivers tend to be pushed more. In response, CityLink adjusted the paratransit driver work schedules to avoid fatigue, especially given the extreme heat in Texas in summer 2022.

Transit Agency Profiles 37   Austin, TX—Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority Exhibit 2 summarizes the characteristics of the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Use of CDO CapMetro uses Trapeze’s optimization processes for scheduling/dispatching beginning at the end of the reservation period the day before the trip date. There were two primary motivations for using CDO: to improve the productivity and on-time performance of the dedicated fleet and reduce overall costs, and to automate the dispatching process that—at 2,000 trips per day—was felt to be unmanageable and responsible for suboptimal results if conducted without any automa- tion. CapMetro management discovered that an average of 20 percent of the trips (and on some days up to 40 percent of the trips) had to be changed because of late cancellations, no-shows, and driver shortages, and that with the increasing volume, the automated dispatching was able to keep up with the changes better than the human dispatchers could. As mentioned previously, CapMetro uses the CDO function on a daily basis after the scheduling process has been completed the day before and throughout the service day to do the following: • Schedule unassigned trips. • Reassign trips that are projected to be picked up late. • Optimize productivity by filling holes created by cancellations or no-shows. CapMetro sets the optimization process to run every two hours, and the agency’s staff worked with Trapeze technicians to tune the parameters for each optimization process. Impacts of CDO After having turned off the CDO function when ridership significantly declined during the pandemic, CapMetro management turned the CDO function back on. However, a before-and- after analysis would not really be appropriate because of the continuing operator shortage and a rapidly increasing ridership. Thus, any increases in productivity would be more a result of these two factors and less of the CDO process. That said, CapMetro management acknowledged that without CDO, it would have been more difficult to accommodate the increased demand while maintaining its standards for on-time performance. Photo 1. A CityLink paratransit vehicle.

38 Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services Exhibit 2. The capital metropolitan transportation authority. Background Descriptive Statistics Agency: Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (CapMetro) Name of Service: MetroAccess Eligible Riders: ADA paratransit Primary Operator: MTM, Inc. (two different contracts): • North Base—75 vehicles, mixed fleet (an additional 46 vehicles for PickUp microtransit; MTM provides the facility and the vehicles) • South Base—108 vehicles, all cutaways; CapMetro owns the facility and the vehicles Booking, Scheduling, and Dispatch Technology: Trapeze since 2001; will soon be transitioning to Spare Labs Service Area Population: 1,318,322 2020 Demand-Response Passenger Trips: • 0 directly operated • 471,000 purchased Source: CapMetro Service Model Reservation and Booking Policies CapMetro performs all the call and control center functions (reservations, scheduling, dispatching, and handling service-day calls from customers). The MTM dispatcher (for MTM-related matters) is based in CapMetro’s call and control center. Service delivery is performed primarily by MTM, which operates dedicated vehicles out of two facilities but with two different contracts and two different union agreements. The cost of the vehicles and facilities is woven into the hourly rate for the contract with the North Base facility. CapMetro provides the call and control center facility (where the eligibility determination is also made) for the South Base facility and the vehicles operated out of the South Base facility. Next-day reservations Call-in advance reservations (up to 3 days) Web-based advance reservations (up to 7 days) Subscription trip requests Same-day service (if space is available) Division of Responsibilities Agency Responsibilities Contractor Responsibilities ETA CALLSDISPATCHING SCHEDULINGRESERVATIONS OPERATIONS

Transit Agency Profiles 39   Challenges/Issues In general, CapMetro is pleased with CDO and plans to continue to use this function when it transitions from Trapeze to Spare Labs, which was scheduled to occur in late 2022. Lessons Learned When CDO was recently turned back on after a hiatus during the pandemic, an upgrade in the tablet software at the South Base operation caused a problem with communication between the Trapeze system and the tablets. Trapeze could not push the schedules to the operator tablets for a 24-hour period. During this time, South Base vehicle operators relied on paper manifests and radio dispatching. However, CapMetro was delayed in turning off the CDO, so it continued to move trips around, causing a mismatch between the information that the dispatchers had and the drivers’ assignments on the paper manifest. This experience shows that agencies should quickly turn off CDO if tablets are not functioning properly. Scheduling Practices Dispatching Practices CapMetro reservation agents use Trapeze to book trips requests but do not perform real-time scheduling. Riders may call in advance requests up to 3 days before a trip or use the web-based booking system up to 7 days in advance. The schedule optimization processes begin after the reservation period ends the day before the trip and continues throughout the service day. As part of the optimization process, wheelchair trips are batched first, followed by ambulatory trips. The scheduling of unassigned trips and the movement of trips throughout runs are automated through Trapeze’s optimization processes. Dispatchers communicate both with drivers using in- vehicle tablets supplemented by voice radio and with riders (for service-day issues) Maximum dispatchers on duty: 10 Impacts of CDO Productivity: Improved Operating Cost per Trip: Decreased On-Time Performance: Improved Real-Time Dispatcher Interventions: Decreased Customer Complaints: Decreased System Performance: Improved Expectations Met: Yes Level of Satisfaction: Satisfied Exhibit 2. (Continued). Photo 2. A Metro Access customer in her wheelchair after alighting from a paratransit vehicle.

40 Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services Billings, MT—MET Transit Exhibit 3 summarizes the characteristics of the MET Transit system. Use of CDO MET Transit uses CDO to improve the productivity of the dedicated fleet and reduce overall costs, to improve on-time performance, to make more effective use of dispatchers, and to improve the overall quality of dispatching. The agency first used CDO after transitioning to Ecolane in August 2020. Prior to this transition, MET Transit staff manually scheduled half of the 200 trips per day that it was serving; the other half were subscription trips. MET Transit now uses Ecolane’s CDO to handle the following functions: • Scheduling unscheduled trips. • Reassigning trips that are projected to be picked up late. • Reassigning trips that trigger vehicle capacity violations (e.g., if a different vehicle type was swapped in at pull-out). • Reassigning trips that exceed a maximum onboard travel time. • Generally optimizing productivity by filling holes created by cancellations or no-shows. The CDO function begins after the last-batch scheduling process has been completed the day before the service day (typically at 5:05 p.m. after reservations have closed for the day) and con- tinues throughout the service day. Before the schedulers go home for the evening, they attempt to schedule some of the unassigned trips that have fallen out of the batch optimization process by manually scheduling them into runs, re-optimizing the trips with relaxed parameters, or both. Still unassigned trips are left for the CDO process in hopes that cancellations and other changes will open opportunities for scheduling these trips. And with the optimization function running continuously through the service day, the process also takes care of same-day bookings. Impacts of CDO MET Transit reported that productivity, operating costs, on-time performance, the need for real- time dispatcher interventions, and system performance improved after implementation of CDO. MET Transit’s transit supervisor reported that productivity has increased by 20 percent, in large part because of a reduction in the number of runs required and in the amount of deadheading. The improvement in productivity was also aided by expanding the pickup window to plus or minus 15 minutes. While it was difficult to assess on-time performance under the old system and therefore impossible to measure its improvement, management reported that on-time performance in June 2022 was 95 percent. MET Transit has long recognized the positive benefits of proactive dispatching; however, the old system did not help much in terms of flagging potential problems. Dispatchers were thus left to their own devices to try to identify the potential problems and solve them, which requires a special skill set that is difficult to teach. Management estimated that it took about a year for a dis- patcher to become proficient under the old system, and it took even longer to become proficient in proactive dispatching. But with the new dispatching tools, including CDO as provided by the new software, dispatchers could be fully trained and reach a level of proficiency within a month. While CDO has not led to a reduction in scheduling/dispatching staff, it has meant that MET Transit has been able to give duties to the current set of dispatchers that they did not previously have time for. For example, these individuals now also dispatch fixed-route service, handle window sales, and provide information to customers by phone. In addition, because of shifting responsibilities,

Transit Agency Profiles 41   Exhibit 3. The MET transit system. Background Descriptive Statistics Agency: City of Billings/MET Transit Name of Service: MET Plus Eligible Customers: ADA paratransit Sole Operator: MET Transit Booking, Scheduling, and Dispatch Technology: Ecolane since 2020 Service Area Population: 110,323 2020 Demand-Response Passenger Trips: • 35,414 directly operated • 0 purchased Source: NTD 2020 Service Model Reservation and Booking Policies MET Transit performs all functions and supplies vehicles and all supporting assets, including technology. Operates with dedicated vehicles only Next-day reservations Advance reservations (no maximum number-of-days limit) Subscription trip requests Same-day service (if space is available) Division of Responsibilities Agency Responsibilities Contractor Responsibilities Not applicable Scheduling Practices Dispatching Practices Real-time scheduling Schedulers using the CDO software may later reassign trips to other runs and run a batch schedule to re- optimize the assignments. All dispatchers communicate with drivers using in- vehicle MDTs supplemented by voice radio and with riders (for service-day issues). Maximum dispatchers on duty: 4 OPERATIONS ETA CALLSDISPATCHING SCHEDULINGRESERVATIONS Impacts of CDO Productivity: Improved Operating Cost per Trip: Decreased On-Time Performance: Improved Real-Time Dispatcher Interventions: Decreased Customer Complaints: Not provided System Performance: Improved Expectations Met: Yes Level of Satisfaction: Very satisfied

42 Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services MET Transit has been able to afford a fourth dispatcher, which has not only allowed for Saturday dispatching of both the fixed-route and paratransit services but has also improved dispatch cover- age when, for example, a dispatcher is sick or goes on vacation. To summarize, while the number of schedulers and dispatchers did not change after the implementation of CDO, the cost of their labor did decrease because of the shifting responsibilities. Last, MET Transit was able to reduce the parameter for maximum onboard time from 90 minutes to 60 minutes. Challenges/Issues MET Transit reported that as with any new software implementation, there was a learning curve for both operators and dispatchers, but the agency lauded Ecolane for its responsiveness and for supplying “great” and timely support and training to overcome this. Otherwise, the transition to Ecolane went fairly smoothly. Ecolane’s goal for MET Transit was to make the software implementation successful. A large part of the transition planning involved Ecolane staff reviewing the scheduling parameters that would be used in both batch scheduling and CDO. Some of these parameters, such as the span of pickup windows and load times, and the maximum onboard time, were easily set—and could later be changed—by MET Transit staff. Other parameters in the algorithm that needed to be adjusted to fit MET Transit’s goals had to be adjusted by the Ecolane software installer/trainers. Generally, as part of the parameter-setting process, a par- ticular goal was to optimize the agency’s vehicles and drivers (by reducing the number of revenue vehicle hours required and spreading trips evenly across resources) while not compromising on on-time performance. Lessons Learned MET Transit recommended that other transit agencies use CDO. According to the agency, CDO has directly contributed to better use of dispatcher time, increased productivity, and the availability of more data on its operations. Management also stated it is extremely happy with its technology vendor, adding that the technology is “a significant investment, but on an annual basis, MET Transit is realizing signifi- cant cost savings.” Bowling Green, KY—GO bg Transit Exhibit 4 shows the characteristics of the Go bg Transit system. Photo 3. A MET Transit customer alighting from a vehicle on a wheelchair lift with help from the driver.

Transit Agency Profiles 43   Exhibit 4. The GO bg Transit system. (continued on next page) Background Descriptive Statistics Agency: City of Bowling Green/GO bg Transit Name of Service: GO, Too Eligible Riders: ADA paratransit Contractor(s): RATPDev USA manages GO bg Transit; Community Action of Southern Kentucky (CASOKY) is the turnkey contractor for GO, Too. Booking, Scheduling, and Dispatch Technology: Ecolane since June 2021 Service Area Population: 63,616 2020 Demand-Response Passenger Trips: • 13,617 directly operated • 0 purchased Source: NTD 2020 Service Model Reservation and Booking Policies CASOKY performs all day-to-day functions for GO, Too. RATPDev USA oversees the contract. The City of Bowling Green provides the technology and vehicles. CASOKY provides backup vehicles as needed. The service is entirely operated with dedicated vehicles. Next-day reservations Advance reservations (up to 14 days in advance) Subscription trips/standing order requests Division of Responsibilities Agency Responsibilities The City of Bowling Green provides the technology (Ecolane), related hardware, and primary fleet of vehicles. RATPDev USA, as the contracted transit agency manager, oversees the CASOKY contract. Contractor Responsibilities CASOKY also performs ADA paratransit eligibility determination and supplies backup vehicles as needed. OPERATIONS ETA CALLSDISPATCHING SCHEDULINGRESERVATIONS Scheduling Practices Dispatching Practices All trips requested from riders are called in and booked in Ecolane. A pickup window is supplied to the rider at that point but is based on the requested pickup time. Automated optimization begins after the reservation period ends on the day before the trip date. If, as a result, a pickup time falls outside the quoted pickup window, CASOKY staff calls the rider with the new time. Ecolane automates the reassignment of trips and the scheduling of unassigned trips (if any) throughout the service day. Dispatcher-driver communications via tablets and radio. Maximum dispatchers on duty: 2

44 Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services Use of CDO CASOKY staff has used CDO since June 2021 when Ecolane went live. The city’s goals for getting a technology with CDO were to do the following: • Improve the productivity of the dedicated fleet and reduce overall costs. • Improve OTP. • Make more effective use of dispatchers. • Support dispatchers in proactively solving scheduling problems. • Improve the overall quality of dispatching. • Improve contractor oversight. As mentioned previously, Ecolane is used on a daily basis for the following functions: • Scheduling unassigned trips. • Reassigning trips that are projected to be picked up late. • Reassigning trips that trigger vehicle capacity violations (e.g., if a different vehicle type was swapped in at pull-out), maximum onboard travel time, or both. • Generally optimizing productivity by filling holes created by cancellations or no-shows. Impacts of CDO The RATPDev transit manager reported that CDO has resulted in improvements in produc- tivity, on-time performance, operating costs, the need for real-time dispatcher interventions, customer complaints, and system performance. Productivity increased 10 percent, operating costs decreased 20 percent, on-time perfor- mance increased 5 percent, and customer complaints decreased 80 percent. The city attributes the improvement in operating costs to better scheduling that resulted from CDO, as evidenced by a reduction in the number of vehicles needed to accomplish the same workload. The number of dispatchers and schedulers did not change after the implementation of CDO because these staff are contract staff. However, the city anticipates that the switch to CDO will affect future procurements of dispatch and scheduling labor. Challenges/Issues The RATPDev transit manager reported that there were no major challenges that arose when CDO was implemented. Exhibit 4. (Continued). Impacts of CDO Productivity: Improved Operating Cost per Trip: Decreased On-Time Performance: Improved Real-Time Dispatcher Interventions: Decreased Customer Complaints: Decreased System Performance: Improved Expectations Met: Yes Level of Satisfaction: Very satisfied

Transit Agency Profiles 45   Lessons Learned • CDO helped to identify opportunities to improve efficiency. • The capability to provide a pickup window for customers helped to promote efficiency and flexibility. • The ability to override system optimization helped to enhance flexibility. • CDO not only makes it easier for the transit system to operate but also provides options that can be introduced in the future for additional types of services. Green Bay, WI—Green Bay Metro Exhibit 5 shows the characteristics of the Green Bay Metro system. Exhibit 5. The Green Bay Metro system. Background Descriptive Statistics Agency: City of Green Bay/Green Bay Metro (GBM) Name of Service: Green Bay Metro Paratransit Eligible Riders: ADA paratransit Contractor(s): Via Mobility Booking, Scheduling, and Dispatch Technology: Via Mobility has used its own technology (also used for on-demand, general public microtransit service) since 2020. Via’s technology is also used for GBM’s microtransit services. Service Area Population: 176,644 2020 Demand-Response Passenger Trips: • 0 directly operated • 16,005 purchased Source: NTD 2020 Service Model Reservation and Booking Policies ADA paratransit is provided under a turnkey contract with Via Mobility (Via also provides microtransit services). Per GBM requirements, all operators are employees of Via Mobility and are ADA-paratransit certified; they are not independent contractors. The ADA paratransit is operated with 12 wheelchair- accessible vehicles (WAVs) supplied by Via Mobility. Next-day reservations Subscription trip requests Division of Responsibilities Agency Responsibilities GBM’s responsibilities focus on contractor procurement and oversight, and on customer eligibility determinations. Contractor Responsibilities OPERATIONS ETA CALLSDISPATCHING SCHEDULINGRESERVATIONS (continued on next page)

46 Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services Impacts of CDO Productivity: Not provided Operating Cost per Trip: Not provided On-Time Performance: Improved Real-Time Dispatcher Interventions: Decreased Customer Complaints: Not provided System Performance: Improved Expectations Met: Yes Level of Satisfaction: Very satisfied Scheduling Practices Dispatching Practices The Via Mobility technology continuously optimizes trips throughout the booking day (the day before the service day) and throughout the service day. Therefore, with the exception of scheduling subscription trips, there is no traditional scheduling process because the scheduling/dispatching process is totally automated. Dispatching is fully automated. Riders’ service-day calls are called into the call center line and handled by reservation agents/customer service representatives, who can communicate with drivers via the chat feature of the Via Mobility technology in the event of no-shows or incidents, or to assist with navigation. Maximum customer service staff on duty: 2 Exhibit 5. (Continued). Use of CDO Green Bay Metro first used CDO when the Via Mobility contract started in 2020. The agency began using continuous optimization at this time not only because it was part and parcel of the functioning of the technology and approach but also because the agency believed it would improve the productivity of the dedicated fleet, reduce overall costs, and improve the quality of dispatching. As mentioned previously, with advance reservations limited to next-day bookings, the opti- mization process runs continuously throughout the day before the service day and throughout the service day. There is an offset of one hour on the service day so that the optimization process does not interfere with what a driver is doing at any given moment. Green Bay Metro also reported that Via Mobility staff, during the transition phase and after imple- mentation, helped the agency’s staff to understand how each parameter of the technology worked to improve both productivity and on-time performance. Via Mobility staff also made sure that the ADA paratransit service’s policies and procedures (e.g., pickup window span and maximum onboard time) and personalized load times (when needed) were reflected in the technology. Over time and in response to Green Bay Metro’s requests, Via Mobility’s assistance has also included tweaking the parameters to improve results. Impacts of CDO The use of continuous automated optimization has effectively meant that there are no dedicated schedulers or dispatchers as there were under the former contract in which a more traditional paratransit management/operations contractor was used, as was more traditional paratransit scheduling software. The reduction in staff would normally lead to a reduction in operating costs; however, the Green Bay Metro general manager noted that there have been so many changes with

Transit Agency Profiles 47   a new contractor and a new technology and approach that it has been difficult to assess the impact of CDO alone on operating costs. That said, the agency’s general manager reported that continuous optimization has improved on-time performance, which went from 93 percent to 98 percent, a 5 percent increase. The general manager was not sure about the changes in productivity and complaint frequency that could be attributed solely to CDO. Challenges/Issues The Green Bay Metro general manager indicated that there were no issues or challenges with the use of continuous optimization in support of its ADA paratransit. This use coincided with a new contractor, a new technology, a new approach, and a new set of drivers. The general manager also indicated that Via Mobility staff made the transition easy and “flawless.” Lessons Learned The Green Bay Metro general manager was very much in favor of overhauling the ADA para- transit with a new contractor, a new technology, and a new approach that featured continuous optimization. She stated that the transition has proved to be beneficial for both the transit agency and its ADA paratransit customers. The general manager also mentioned that Via Mobility was subsequently retained to provide the agency’s microtransit service, using the same technology platform and optimization algorithms that are used for the paratransit service. She also reported that Via’s drivers—all ADA paratransit certified—can be used interchangeably for both services even though the services are not consoli- dated, but only in an emergency when there is no other option. Lubbock, TX—Citibus Exhibit 6 shows the characteristics of the Citibus system. Use of CDO Citibus first began using CDO in January 2022 with the implementation of the Spare Labs soft- ware. The goals involved in transitioning to this software included improving the productivity of the dedicated fleet and reducing overall costs, improving on-time performance, and improving the overall quality of dispatching. Photo 4. A Green Bay Metro paratransit vehicle.

Exhibit 6. The Citibus system. Background Descriptive Statistics Agency: City of Lubbock/Citibus Name of Service: Citibus Access Eligible Customers: ADA paratransit (commingled with general-public microtransit riders and agency- sponsored clients such as Medicaid beneficiaries) Sole Operator: Citibus; there are no contractors Booking, Scheduling, and Dispatch Technology: Spare Labs (also used for Citibus OnDemand general public microtransit) since January 2022 Service Area Population: 208,215 2020 Demand-Response Passenger Trips: • 82,686 directly operated • 0 purchased Source: NTD 2020 Service Model Reservation and Booking Policies Citibus operates Citibus Access and its microtransit service, Citibus OnDemand, with the same set of dedicated vehicles and drivers. Next-day reservations Advance reservations (up to 7 days in advance) Subscription trips/standing order requests Same-day service (if space is available) Division of Responsibilities Agency Responsibilities Contractor Responsibilities There are no contractors. OPERATIONS ETA CALLSDISPATCHING SCHEDULINGRESERVATIONS Scheduling Practices Dispatching Practices Citibus Access reservation agents book trips but do not perform real-time scheduling; this is done in the background by Spare Labs’ continuous optimization processes, which begin when a trip is first booked to a dated schedule (7 days in advance of the trip date) and that continue throughout the service day. ADA paratransit customers can also take advantage of same-day booking via the OnDemand service. Reassignment of trips to optimize the service is fully automated, with manifests (and changes to assignments) available on the in-vehicle tablets. Staff can get in touch with drivers via tablets supplemented by voice communication as needed. Riders communicate only with reservation agents/customer service agents for service-day calls. Maximum staff on duty: 3 Impacts of CDO Productivity: Improved Operating Cost per Trip: Decreased On-Time Performance: Not provided Real-Time Dispatcher Interventions: Decreased Customer Complaints: Increased System Performance: Improved Expectations Met: Yes Level of Satisfaction: Very satisfied

Transit Agency Profiles 49   As mentioned previously, the Spare Labs technology is used to optimize the combined paratransit/ microtransit service. For ADA paratransit service, reservations begin seven days out and continue up through the end of the service day. A great number of on-demand calls come in the day of service both from ADA paratransit customers and the general public. The optimization processes are used to schedule unassigned (newly booked) trips, to reassign scheduled trips as needed (e.g., as new trips are booked), and generally to optimize productivity as cancellations or no-shows happen and as specific vehicles are running late or break down. The access policies (e.g., pickup window span and maximum onboard times) and other parameters for Spare Labs’ scheduling algorithms are set by Spare Labs technicians. Impacts of CDO The Citibus general manager reported that while the need for real-time dispatcher interven- tions has been significantly reduced with the automated optimization processes, the number of dispatchers and schedulers did not change after implementation of CDO; nor did dispatcher or scheduler labor costs. At the time of the SB-36 survey of transit agencies, Spare Labs was just turning on the global optimization feature, so the impacts of the optimization were not reported in the survey. In a follow-up interview, however, the Citibus general manager noted, “CDO is definitely working for us,” adding that dispatchers can handle more trips because they can better manage the capacity made available by cancellations. With the same service capacity, the combined fleet once provided approximately 2,000 rides per week and is now able to provide 2,500 to 2,600 rides per week. The only difference was turning on the optimization feature; most of the increase in service capacity was a result of the optimization processes. With this increase in productivity, the unit operating cost (per trip) decreased because overall costs have remained level. With the increase both in pro- ductivity (and more shared rides) and in the volatility in scheduled pickup times, complaints have increased slightly. Challenges/Issues One of the limitations of the Spare Labs software is that the scheduling algorithm’s parameters must be set and modified only by Spare Labs technicians. That said, the Citibus general manager noted that Spare Labs is very responsive, listens to the Citibus staff’s feedback, and tweaks the system to produce desired results. As mentioned previously, the slight increase in complaints can be traced to the volatility in the scheduled pickup time that results from CDO. When a trip is scheduled, the rider gets a notifica- tion about the pickup. CDO, however, might subsequently change the pickup time and send out a Photo 5. A Citibus access vehicle.

50 Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services second notification to the rider, who, if the new pickup time is earlier than the original time, might have only 20 minutes to get ready for the pickup (if the rider has even seen the second notifica- tion). The recent complaints have thus been primarily associated with vehicles showing up early. The Citibus general manager indicated that the agency and Spare Labs staff are still trying to figure out a solution to this problem. Citibus also reported that one of the initial challenges of using CDO was that Medicaid pas- sengers would be moved from one run to another, and the assigned driver did not have the proper paperwork to make the pickup. The agency has since resolved this challenge by having all drivers take all Medicaid paperwork. Lessons Learned The Citibus general manager advised, “Don’t be scared to try CDO. There’s nothing really to watch out for. Embrace the opportunity to do things that are different and nontraditional. Push the envelope for the betterment of the service.” Oxnard/Western Ventura County, CA— Gold Coast Transit District Exhibit 7 shows the characteristics of the Gold Coast Transit District system. Exhibit 7. The Gold Coast Transit District system. Background Descriptive Statistics Agency: Gold Coast Transit District (GCTD) Name of Service: GO ACCESS Eligible customers: ADA paratransit; also seniors ages 65 and older as well as other persons with disabilities—that is, those making non-ADA paratransit trips The recently expanded Premium Direct service provides direct service (without transfers) for GO ACCESS customers going to/from the neighboring Camarillo area. Turnkey Contractor: MV Transportation Booking, Scheduling, and Dispatch Technology: Ecolane (also used for on-demand, general-public microtransit) since 2018 Service Area Population: 367,260 2020 Demand-Response Passenger Trips: • 0 directly operated • 95,245 purchased Source: NTD 2020 Service Model Reservation and Booking Policies MV Transportation performs all day-to-day functions via a turnkey contract. Operated with dedicated vehicles only; GCTD provides 27 WAVs, including 21 compressed natural gas–fueled vehicles, 5 gasoline-fueled vehicles, and one electric vehicle Next-day reservations Subscription trips requests Same-day service (if space is available)

Transit Agency Profiles 51   Impacts of CDO Productivity: Improved Operating Cost per Trip: Increased On-Time Performance: Improved Real-Time Dispatcher Interventions: Decreased Customer Complaints: Decreased System Performance: Improved Expectations Met: Yes Level of Satisfaction: Very satisfied Scheduling Practices Dispatching Practices Because there are no advance reservations except for next-day bookings, for which real-time scheduling is performed, there is no distinct daily scheduling process. CDO automatically kicks in immediately after the reservation period ends. There is a person on staff that schedules subscription trips onto templates. Certain dispatchers communicate with drivers, while other dispatchers handle service-day calls from riders. Dispatchers communicate with drivers using in-vehicle tablets supplemented by voice radio. After the reservation period concludes, dispatch staff use CDO to automatically re-optimize the day’s schedule every 30 minutes up to 1 hour before the trip’s actual pickup window begins. Maximum dispatchers on duty: 3 Division of Responsibilities Agency Responsibilities GCTD provides planning, marketing, outreach, and contract management. GCTD’s contractual responsibilities include supplying the vehicles, scheduling/dispatch software (Ecolane), onboard tablets, and all supporting assets. GCTD provides the compressed natural gas and the gasoline fuel in addition to recharging the electric vehicle at its yard. Contractor Responsibilities The contractor is also responsible for vehicle maintenance. OPERATIONS ETA CALLSDISPATCHING SCHEDULINGRESERVATIONS Exhibit 7. (Continued). Use of CDO GCTD successfully uses CDO to do the following: • Reduce the overall costs of daily operations by improving the productivity of the dedicated fleet. • Improve on-time performance. • Allow dispatchers to improve customer service interactions. The agency first used CDO with the transition of the scheduling technology to Ecolane in March 2018. GCTD uses the CDO function after the scheduling process has been completed the day before and throughout the service day for the following purposes: • Moving trips to as few vehicles as possible; in a typical day, one or two runs are terminated early because of this CDO activity, reducing the number of revenue hours required for service.

52 Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services • Scheduling unscheduled trips. • Reassigning trips that are projected to be picked up late. • Reassigning trips that trigger vehicle capacity violations (e.g., if a different vehicle type was swapped in at pull-out). • Reassigning trips that exceed a maximum onboard travel time. • Generally optimizing productivity by filling holes created by cancellations, no-shows, or both. Impacts of CDO GCTD reported that productivity, operating costs, on-time performance, the need for real-time dispatcher interventions, customer complaints, and system performance all improved after imple- mentation of CDO. For example, with ridership increasing by 3 percent between fiscal years 2018 and 2019, productivity increased 10 percent, while on-time performance increased 4 percent. At that time, there was also a 4 percent increase in operating costs. However, this increase was unrelated to the software change and the use of CDO. The increase in costs mainly had to do with increases in labor and fuel costs that came with a new contract. The older contract reflected lower wages. Moreover, no vehicles were replaced until after the new software was installed, so this new cost was figured into the cost per trip. Costs also increased with the added mileage that resulted from introducing Premium Direct service. GCTD noted that, if anything, the operating costs would have definitely been higher had GCTD not migrated to Ecolane and its CDO capabilities; indeed, if not for the increased productivity, the increase in cost per trip could have been even higher. Despite the improvement in on-time performance, customer complaints increased by 7 per- cent when CDO was first implemented. The GCTD manager of paratransit and special projects attributes this to customer resistance to change, specifically to the increase in shared rides and the impact on pickup times. Prior reservation protocols did not encourage any negotiation, and as more trips were offered 10 to 15 minutes before/after what customers requested, the complaints increased. As customers and staff got acquainted with how this new tool worked, and as customers gained confidence that they were, in fact, consistently arriving to their destinations on time, the complaints evaporated. While CDO did not reduce the number of dispatchers and schedulers, GCTD reported that CDO has allowed a growth in service (e.g., meal delivery, an expanded service area, and late-night service) of up to 20 percent in some months without the contractor having to provide additional dispatchers and schedulers and without the need for labor-intensive software modifications. An important outcome of the transition to CDO was that the traditional post-booking sched- uling function (schedulers using software to batch-optimize the schedule before turning it over to dispatch) was no longer needed because of GCTD’s next-day-only booking policy in combi- nation with CDO. Using Trapeze (the former technology), MV Transportation had organized its call center staff to have dedicated dispatchers/reservationists and a dedicated scheduler. All of the reservationists were cross-trained for dispatch for backup. GCTD reported there was also an attempt to cross-train this staff for scheduling, although this effort had mixed results. After transitioning to Ecolane, and because there ceased to be a scheduling function in the traditional sense, the scheduler was trained in booking and dispatching and became more of a member of the booking/dispatching team. Moreover, GCTD reported that CDO has allowed the dispatchers to focus more on real-time issues (e.g., potential no-shows) and less on trying to solve potential problems in advance. Ecolane’s CDO does this automatically not only by reshuffling trip assignments based on holes

Transit Agency Profiles 53   in the schedule that result from same-day cancellations but also by addressing problems in the schedule from late-running vehicles. The agency has also found CDO to be more adaptable to operating environment changes. For example, with the agency’s previous booking, scheduling, and dispatch technology provider, months of lead time might be required to implement a service change, whereas the same service change might be implemented within a day with the current technology provider. Challenges/Issues GCTD reported two challenges raised by implementing CDO. The first challenge was two- fold: (1) to discourage dispatchers from touching the system (i.e., helping them realize that the technology can re-optimize schedules faster automatically than a human can manually) and (2) to reacquaint dispatchers with the idea of proactive dispatching (as opposed to reactive dispatching). The second challenge was to move drivers away from paper manifests to tablets. The first challenge is with management direction. The inclination of dispatchers to make changes that were now being automated resolved itself over time as dispatchers saw how the system objectively optimized the system in real time as changes occurred. The second challenge was resolved by allowing the contractor to continue using paper manifests as backups for one week to get used to the idea that no paper would be allowed. Within this week, a customer compliant arose. The cause was inconsistent information. It was determined that the driver had relied primarily on the paper manifest instead of using the tablet, and the paper manifest had become obsolete within the first hour during which the driver was in revenue service. GCTD banned paper manifests from that day forward. Lessons Learned Proactive dispatching has been enhanced by the use of CDO, which not only has a positive impact on on-time performance but also frees up the dispatcher to provide the human touch in customer service issues as they arise. In this way, CDO is directly and indirectly responsible for supporting its most vulnerable population, which relies quite heavily on GO ACCESS for transportation. GCTD also reported that CDO allows the agency to more easily accommodate the fluidity of riders’ lives (e.g., a rider’s decision to cancel a trip) while requiring fewer revenue service hours, thereby reducing operating expenses. Sheboygan, WI—Shoreline Metro Exhibit 8 shows the characteristics of the Shoreline Metro system. Photo 6. A GO ACCESS vehicle and its driver leaning against it.

54 Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services Exhibit 8. The Shoreline Metro system. Background Descriptive Statistics Agency: City of Sheboygan/Shoreline Metro Name of Service: Metro Connection Contractor(s): None Booking, Scheduling, and Dispatch Technology: Ecolane (also used for on-demand, general-public microtransit) since 2016 Service Area Population: 59,490 2020 Demand-Response Passenger Trips: • 18,564 directly operated • 0 purchased Source: NTD 2020 Service Model Reservation and Booking Policies Operated in-house with dedicated vehicles only Shoreline Metro provides the vehicles and all supporting assets. Next-day reservations Advance reservations (no maximum number-of-days limit) Subscription trips/standing order requests Same-day service (if space is available) Division of Responsibilities Agency Responsibilities Contractor Responsibilities Not applicable Scheduling Practices Dispatching Practices Real-time scheduling Schedulers use Ecolane to schedule unassigned trips, reschedule trips as needed, and re-optimize trips. All dispatchers communicate with drivers using in- vehicle MDTs supplemented by voice radio and with riders (for service-day issues) A designated dispatcher per shift is responsible for proactive dispatching, although this task has been minimized because of CDO. Maximum dispatchers on duty: 2 OPERATIONS ETA CALLSDISPATCHING SCHEDULINGRESERVATIONS Impacts of CDO Productivity: Improved Operating Cost per Trip: Decreased On-Time Performance: Increased Real-Time Dispatcher Interventions: Decreased Customer Complaints: Decreased System Performance: Improved Expectations Met: Yes Level of Satisfaction: Very satisfied

Transit Agency Profiles 55   Use of CDO Shoreline Metro uses Ecolane’s CDO capability to achieve the following: • Improve the productivity of the dedicated fleet and, by doing so, reduce overall costs. • Improve on-time performance. • Improve the overall quality of dispatching. On a daily basis, Shoreline Metro uses the CDO function after the scheduling process has been completed the day before and throughout the service day. The agency uses CDO for the following purposes: • Scheduling unscheduled trips. • Reassigning trips that are projected to be picked up late. • Reassigning trips that trigger vehicle capacity violations (e.g., if a different vehicle type was swapped in at pull-out). • Reassigning trips that exceed a maximum onboard travel time. • Generally optimizing productivity by filling holes created by cancellations or no-shows. Impacts of CDO Shoreline Metro reported that productivity, operating costs, the need for real-time dispatcher interventions, and customer complaints all improved after implementation of CDO. Productivity increased 31 percent, operating costs decreased 30 percent, and customer complaints went from “many” to “few.” The agency noted that on-time performance declined 2 percent after CDO implementation, but this was likely caused by the significant increase in productivity, which to a large extent resulted from a reduction in the number of vehicles needed (eight to six) and a reduction in daily revenue hours from roughly 130 hours to 55 to 60 hours. The agency also noted that customer complaints dropped significantly, not so much because of CDO but because of new expectations, policies, and procedures established by a change in leadership. CDO allowed Shoreline Metro to reduce the number of dispatcher-schedulers (a combined posi- tion) by 50 percent. Staff are cross-trained such that almost anybody on staff (including supervisors) Photo 7. A Metro Connection vehicle.

56 Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services can handle reservations, scheduling, will-calls, and dispatch. As part of implementing the technology that allows for CDO, the agency was able to introduce electronic fare payment. Challenges/Issues Shoreline Metro reported no major challenges in implementing or using CDO, but it did report increased efficiency and better productivity. The only minor challenge was training drivers and other staff who are not tech savvy, but the agency reported that the software is easy to use and that the customer and technical support team is great. Lessons Learned Shoreline Metro recommended that other agencies use CDO. Some of the lessons the agency learned in implementing CDO are the following: • Patience. CDO is a whole different way of running operations and conducting business. It takes time to implement, and it will require patience while customers acclimate themselves to the service. • “Change is not bad.” The agency noted that change is not bad, but not everyone in the organiza- tion will accept change. Drivers will resign because they do not like the technology or because the technology is simply a new way of doing business. Shoreline Metro reported that about 20 percent of drivers resigned or retired concurrent with CDO implementation. However, with respect to the long term, new drivers were excited about the new CDO technology, and many would agree that it makes their job easier. • Expectations. The agency recommended defining (or redefining) expectations for service. For example, if an agency is going to follow the ADA requirements, it should train staff and drivers in how the software will work within the parameters that it sets up. An agency should review current policies and match them with expectations and service standards. • Efficiency. While Shoreline Metro expected to become much more efficient and productive, the agency was not sure how the final product would be defined. It turned out that the agency cut revenue hours by over 40 percent, which in turn drastically reduced the need for drivers and vehicles. Agencies that are interested in implementing CDO should be prepared to reduce resources, which might include reducing driver and staff revenue hours. • Support. Shoreline Metro recommended making sure that the technology vendor provides great customer and technical support. Like any software or technology, CDO will stop working for any number of reasons. The company should therefore have contingency plans (e.g., multiple servers and web-based backup manifests). Shoreline Metro reported that its technology vendor provides exceptional support and offers many layers of protection to keep the system continu- ously accessible; the system has gone down once in almost seven years. St. Petersburg/Pinellas County, FL— Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority Exhibit 9 summarizes the characteristics of the PSTA system. Use of CDO The Spare Labs software went live at PSTA in December 2021. The agency changed to this software to take advantage of its CDO. Spare Labs’ optimization processes are indeed continuous and not limited to the service day. PSTA’s goals were to improve the productivity of the dedicated fleet, reduce overall costs, and improve the overall quality of dispatching.

Transit Agency Profiles 57   Background Descriptive Statistics Agency: Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) Name of Service: PSTA Access Eligible Riders: ADA paratransit (transportation- disadvantaged trips are also served on the same service platform) Contractor(s): First Transit operates dedicated WAVs for trips requiring these vehicles and for ambulatory trips that get returned from UZURV. Bay Area Metro Taxi and UZURV are used for ambulatory trips. Booking, Scheduling, and Dispatch Technology: Spare Labs (also used for on-demand, general-public microtransit) since December 2021. Bay Area Metro and UZURV have their own dispatching systems. Service Area Population: 1,099,272 2020 Demand-Response Passenger Trips: • 0 directly operated • 275,475 purchased • 17,509 purchased (taxi) Source: NTD 2020 Service Model Reservation and Booking Policies PSTA books trips and handles customers’ service-day calls. Scheduling is largely automated through Spare Labs’ optimization processes. First Transit operates dedicated WAVs, while Bay Area Metro operates taxis, and UZURV operates sedans. First Transit also provides its facility and the WAVs. Next-day reservations Advance reservations (up to one month) Subscription trips/standing order requests Division of Responsibilities Agency Responsibilities Contractor Responsibilities ETA CALLSRESERVATIONS OPERATIONS DISPATCHING Exhibit 9. The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority system. (continued on next page) Optimization processes run 24/7, including the days leading up to any particular service date, with two exceptions: the optimization process does not take the taxi services into consideration past 5:00 p.m. on the day before the trip date and does not take UZURV into consideration at all. Therefore, service-day optimization occurs for the First Transit runs only. PSTA’s booking agents initially assign ambulatory trips to Bay Area Metro and UZURV contrac- tors by policy/practice, largely because of the low flat per-trip rates that PSTA has been able to nego- tiate (both in the low $20s). From PSTA’s perspective and from a pure cost-per-trip standpoint in consideration of First Transit’s hourly rate, it is unclear whether filling up the First Transit runs with ambulatory trips (which would increase productivity) would result in a lower overall cost per trip. Spare Labs technicians weight the parameters used by the technology’s algorithms; while the parameters are configurable, PSTA staff does not have direct access to them.

58 Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services Scheduling Practices Dispatching Practices PSTA booking agents provide real-time scheduling. If the trip needs a WAV, the agent uses Spare Labs software to determine whether the trip can fit into a WAV run operated by First Transit. A 0/+30 minute pickup window is then quoted according to the scheduled pickup time. Ambulatory trips are first assigned to Bay Area Metro to fill up the 12 to 14 vehicles that are reserved (but not dedicated) for PSTA Access. When Bay Area Metro no longer has capacity, ambulatory trips are assigned to UZURV. If a UZURV driver does not select a particular trip with a certain time before the requested pickup time, the trip reverts to First Transit. The optimization process does include Bay Area Metro but only up through the day before the service. Thus, for trips initially scheduled to First Transit WAV runs and Bay Area Metro, the Spare Labs software is continually optimizing the schedule 24/7 up through the end of the reservation period on the evening of the day before the trip date. As a result of this approach, there really is no scheduling in the traditional sense other than the initial real-time scheduling of WAV trips. The dispatching of trips is fully automated on the service day but for the First Transit trips only. First Transit dispatchers communicate with drivers to handle no-shows, provide navigation assistance, and handle incidents primarily through Spare Labs’ chat function. First Transit drivers are equipped with in- vehicle tablets. First Transit dispatchers can also communicate with First Transit drivers via radio. Taxis and UZURV drivers use their own dispatching systems. Riders communicate only with reservation agents/customer service agents for service-day calls (e.g., ETA/Where’s My Ride?) Maximum First Transit dispatchers on duty: 3 Impacts of CDO Productivity: Declined Operating Cost per Trip: Increased On-Time Performance: Improved Real-Time Dispatcher Interventions: Increased Customer Complaints: No change System Performance: Decreased Expectations Met: Mixed Level of Satisfaction: Neutral Exhibit 9. (Continued). Impacts of CDO Because only part of the PSTA Access service operates in a dedicated manner, the productivity of the dedicated fleet is less important as a pure productivity metric; instead, because a large portion of the service is operated with non-dedicated vehicles, it is the overall cost per trip that is the important metric. Still, since the Spare Labs software was implemented, productivity has decreased from 0.9 to 0.8 trips per vehicle. This seems to be less a result of the switching of software and more a result of several ADA paratransit services shifting to PSTA’s microtransit services (also supported by the Spare Labs technology). Because of this slight decrease in productivity and because the flat rates of the two contractors serving ambulatory trips have remained unchanged, the operating cost per trip has gone up slightly. But again, this seems to be more related to the shift in ridership and less to the optimization processes.

Transit Agency Profiles 59   On-time performance dipped initially but has improved steadily and has shown some increases compared with the service under the prior system. Customer complaints increased during the switch to the new software but have since decreased to the pre-CDO level. Challenges/Issues PSTA reported that some deadheading has increased after switching to Spare Labs; this is being worked on through the continued tweaking of the scheduling parameters. To resolve this challenge in the meantime, the CDO settings have had to be adjusted (by Spare Labs staff) to eliminate the long deadhead trips. In addition, PSTA has had software issues with automatically scheduling lunch breaks for drivers of the dedicated fleet. The PSTA staff has therefore had to manually schedule lunch breaks for drivers. PSTA also noted that initially, the service-day optimization ended once a driver began a shift, which seemed counterintuitive. This issue has since been rectified with the implementation of the CDO’s global optimization feature. Lessons Learned PSTA recommended making sure that the optimization takes place in real time (i.e., after a vehicle is in service as well as before.) The PSTA director of mobility services reported she is satisfied (so far) with CDO and is opti- mistic about Spare Labs’ ability to improve the software and deliver what PSTA needs. Summit County, UT—High Valley Transit Exhibit 10 shows the characteristics of the High Valley Transit system. Use of CDO High Valley Transit entered into a contract with Via Mobility CDO in February 2021. Via is the prime contractor for the ADA and microtransit service, not just the technology provider. While Via’s CDO capability has been in use since the inception of this service, ADA paratransit and microtransit were split for the first six months so that customers could get used to the service. After this six-month period, the two sets of trips were commingled. As mentioned previously, Via is used to optimize the ADA paratransit service 14 days out, up through the service day. A great number of on-demand calls come in on the day of service from both ADA paratransit customers and the general public. On a daily basis, High Valley Transit’s contractor uses the CDO function after the scheduling process has been completed the day before and throughout the service day. CDO automatically performs the following functions on the service day: • Reassigns trips that are projected to be picked up late. • Reassigns trips that exceed a maximum onboard travel time. • Optimizes productivity by filling holes created by cancellations or no-shows. Looking forward, Via is planning to integrate a link between the Via Mobility technology and Uber for overflow purposes, although this will only apply to microtransit trips.

60 Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services Exhibit 10. The High Valley Transit system. Background Descriptive Statistics Agency: Summit County/High Valley Transit (HVT) Name of Service: Valley Ride Eligible Riders: ADA paratransit (commingled with general-public microtransit trips—Micro) Note: HVT’s ADA paratransit obligation stems from its fixed-route service (operated under contract to RTW, a local contractor). ADA paratransit riders use the service for subscription trips and advance reservation trips, and they use Micro for on-demand trips. HVT will soon be bringing the fixed-route system in house. Contractor(s): Via Mobility Booking, Scheduling, and Dispatch Technology: Via (also used for on-demand, general-public microtransit, fixed-route, and shuttle) since May 2021 Service Area Population: 40,000—service area is primarily western Summit County from the outskirts of Park City (beyond the municipal boundary) to Deer Valley 2020 Demand-Response Passenger Trips: • 0 directly operated • 2,400 ADA paratransit trips purchased—based on 200 per month in October 2021 (about 2% of the total) • 216,000 total DRT—based on 18,000 trips a month in October 2021 Source: HVT Service Model Reservation and Booking Policies Valley Ride/Micro operators (independent contractors) rent vehicles from a third-party entity (Buggy). All operators are ADA paratransit certified (i.e., trained to proficiency and drug and alcohol tested). Operators provide dedicated service to HVT but are not paid an hourly wage; they are paid based on the service provided. Next-day reservations Advance reservations (14 days in advance) Subscription trips/standing order requests Same-day service (if space is available) Division of Responsibilities Agency Responsibilities HVT is also responsible for contractor procurement and monitoring, and for the ADA paratransit eligibility determination. Contractor Responsibilities CALL-IN/EMAIL RESERVATIONS OPERATIONS ETA CALLSDISPATCHING SCHEDULINGAPP RESERVATIONS Scheduling Practices Dispatching Practices ADA paratransit trips are primarily booked by telephone or email. Some ADA paratransit customers use the app to book these trips. Once a trip is booked, the Via Mobility technology is continuously optimizing trips from the days leading up to the trip date and on the service date (CDO). With the exception of scheduling subscription trips, there is not a traditional scheduling process. As with many systems, scheduling is totally automated. There are no dispatchers, per se, with this system because the dispatching is totally automated, and there are rarely no-shows. HVT reports fewer than five per year. Two or three customer service representatives respond to service-day calls from riders and provide support to drivers as needed. Communication between the Via technology and drivers is accomplished by smart phones. This is also how drivers can reach customer service staff if needed.

Transit Agency Profiles 61   Impacts of CDO Because High Valley Transit is a new transit agency and CDO has been in use since the agency was established, no before-and-after information about the impacts of CDO on service and cost performance was available. That said, High Valley Transit did report that operating costs decreased for two reasons: (1) there was a decrease in operating costs related to replacing Summit County’s contract with the previous operator with in-house operations, and (2) the agency switched from a primarily fixed-route service model to a model that combines fixed-route ser- vices and microtransit services. High Valley Transit noted that by commingling ADA para- transit with Micro trips, productivity increased by 150 percent; however, some of this increase stemmed from an increase in the use of the service and better service operation overall. Interest- ingly, complaints did not increase when this happened. Challenges/Issues High Valley Transit reported that CDO can result in variable ETAs that can sometimes confuse riders. The agency’s executive director provided an example: “Consider a rider who is originally scheduled to be picked up at Time A by Driver X but is rescheduled for Time B (a later time) and Driver Y because Driver X is running late on a previous ride. This is the intended functionality of the CDO algorithm, but many riders see this as ‘jumpy ETAs’ or complain about their ETAs increasing. To resolve this issue, High Valley Transit improved communication with riders and limited how much an ETA is allowed to increase.” High Valley Transit also reported that it is important to understand the basics of the par- ticular CDO algorithm and what elements the agency can and wants to prioritize. For example, in the beginning, High Valley Transit set the pickup window (for next-day and advance trips) to 30 minutes after the requested time. When demand increased, the algorithm filtered out longer solutions and left many people with no options. High Valley Transit eventually increased the pickup window to 45 minutes, but this was not the level of service that High Valley Transit wanted to deliver. Lessons Learned High Valley Transit is delighted with how the optimization technology supports both ADA paratransit and microtransit, and how CDO has enabled it to combine the two services. By doing this, ADA paratransit customers are using Valley Ride to book subscription and advance trips, and are otherwise using Micro for their on-demand needs. Impacts of CDO Productivity: Not provided Operating Cost per Trip: Decreased On-Time Performance: Not provided Real-Time Dispatcher Interventions: Not provided Customer Complaints: Not provided System Performance: Not provided Expectations Met: Yes Level of Satisfaction: Very satisfied Exhibit 10. (Continued).

62 Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services The agency recommended having at least one staff person who understands the algorithm in layman’s terms and is able to explain it to stakeholders (e.g., a board of trustees). This is espe- cially important if a contractor is using CDO; that is, the contractor should not be the only party that understands what is going on. Wenatchee, WA—Link Transit Exhibit 11 shows the characteristics of the Link Transit system. Exhibit 11. The Link Transit system. Background Descriptive Statistics Agency: Link Transit Name of Service: LinkPlus Eligible Customers: ADA paratransit Primary Operator: Link Transit Contractor and Overflow Providers: Lake Chelan Hospital operates its own vehicle in providing LinkPlus trips during weekday evenings in the Chelan area. This service is operated on an on-call basis. Overflow providers include Medicaid NEMT providers. Local taxis were formerly used as overflow providers from 2003 to 2008. Booking, Scheduling, and Dispatch Technology: Ecolane (also used for on-demand, general-public microtransit) since 2013 Service Area Population: 108,660 2020 Demand-Response Passenger Trips: • 39,375 directly operated • 846 purchased Source: NTD 2020 Service Model Reservation and Booking Policies Link Transit operates Link Plus with a dedicated fleet of 17 WAVs. Link Transit operators are cross-trained to operate both fixed-route transit and paratransit service. Link Transit provides all facilities and assets in support of LinkPlus except for vehicles provided by Lake Chelan Hospital and by Medicaid NEMT providers. Next-day reservations Advance reservations (up to 5 days in advance) Subscription trips/standing order requests Same-day service (if space is available) Division of Responsibilities Agency Responsibilities *Dedicated vehicles Contractor Responsibilities **Non-dedicated vehicles OPERATIONS* ETA CALLSDISPATCHING SCHEDULINGRESERVATIONS OPERATIONS**

Transit Agency Profiles 63   Exhibit 11. (Continued). Impacts of CDO Productivity: Not provided Operating Cost per Trip: Not provided On-Time Performance: Not provided Real-Time Dispatcher Interventions: Decreased Customer Complaints: Decreased System Performance: No change Expectations Met: Mixed Level of Satisfaction: Satisfied Scheduling Practices Dispatching Practices Real time with subsequent manipulation as needed, provided with the help of Ecolane All dispatchers communicate with both drivers and riders (for service-day issues). Dispatchers communicate with drivers using in-vehicle tablets supplemented by voice radio. Maximum dispatchers on duty: 2 Use of CDO Link Transit has long been a proponent of CDO and initially licensed Ecolane in 2013 with this function in mind. One of the primary motivators was to improve the overall quality of dispatching. On a daily basis, Link Transit uses the CDO function after the scheduling process has been completed the day before and throughout the service day. The agency uses CDO for the following purposes: • Scheduling unscheduled trips. • Reassigning trips that are projected to be picked up late. • Reassigning trips that trigger vehicle capacity violations (e.g., if a different vehicle type was swapped in at pull-out). • Reassigning trips that exceed a maximum onboard travel time. • Generally optimizing productivity by filling holes created by cancellations or no-shows. Impacts of CDO Because Link Transit has been using Ecolane and its CDO capabilities since 2013, it was difficult for the Link Transit general manager to pinpoint the impact on productivity, operating costs, and on-time performance that could be traced solely to CDO. That said, Link Transit reported that as a result of CDO implementation, the agency has been able to schedule fewer runs because of reduced dead time. Link Transit did report that CDO resulted in a reduction in dispatchers when it was first implemented and in real-time dispatcher interventions. In addition, Link Transit reported that CDO contributed to a 50 percent decrease in complaints. The Link Transit general manager also added that CDO resulted in only a marginal improve- ment in overall system performance because the system was already running at high perfor- mance levels.

64 Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services Challenges/Issues The Link Transit general manager noted that there are “too many [parameters for CDO] to be truly effective,” observing that the current version of the technology tends to group rides that should not be grouped. He also noted that drivers and dispatchers initially did not like dynamic scheduling. The agency had to limit drivers’ access to the next trip on their manifest to ensure that drivers would follow the CDO-generated manifest. And the dispatchers believed they could do better, a senti- ment that subsided over time. Lessons Learned In terms of the staff’s acceptance of CDO, dispatchers have to learn to trust dynamic scheduling.

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 Continuous Dynamic Optimization: Impacts on ADA Paratransit Services
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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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