Mississippi’s Coast Transit Authority Uses RouteMatch Software’s Technologies to Improve Demand Response and Emergency Preparation
Experiences 65% reduction in customer complaints and 15% reduction in operational costs
February 29, 2012–GULFPORT, MS and ATLANTA, GA – Coast Transit Authority and RouteMatch Software today announced that Coast Transit Authority has generated significant efficiencies and cost savings by using RouteMatch’s passenger and vehicle transportation management technologies. The return on investment gains underscore how Coast Transit Authority’s commitment paired with innovative technologies can bring better service to the community’s one million annual riders and improve operations. RouteMatch’s technologies have also been applied by Coast Transit Authority for effective emergency preparation and disaster preparedness in Harrison County, Mississippi.
Since implementing RouteMatch Software’s scheduling, routing and dispatching technologies for its paratranist services, Coast Transit Authority has been able to achieve:
- 15% reduction in costs associated with fuel consumption, operations, and staff time
- 65% reduction in customer complaints
- 25% reduction in empty vehicles on the road
- 5% increase in passenger pick ups or ridership
- Savings of $17,000 in administrative cost yearly due to move to paperless environment
“We can’t say how excited we are when we look at the data,” said Kevin Coggin, Executive Director, Coast Transit Authority. “RouteMatch’s technologies, approach and support have brought tremendous value to our transit agency and helped us bring timely service to our riders, especially after Hurricane Katrina. It was a real game-changer. We would have been stranded if we had not decided to embrace technologies when we did.”
Hurricane Katrina Spurs Change in Ridership and Transit Agency Operations
Situated in an active hurricane zone, Coast Transit Authority serves Jackson, Harrison and Hancock counties in Mississippi. After Hurricane Katrina impacted the community in 2005, Coast Transit Authority’s management team was faced with a daunting challenge. The transit agency found that many members of the gulf community who historically resided along the coast decided to move further afield to avoid severe weather conditions. This sudden relocation resulted in a greater distance (2 miles) between passenger pick-up points.
Passenger scheduling and pick-ups became harder to manage, and fuel consumption and costs swelled. Coast Transit Authority had little visibility into route planning and where the vehicles were located at any given time, which resulted in duplicate routes and inefficient service.
Concerned, Coast Transit Authority’s management team, board members, and staff knew that they needed prompt change and began an extensive search for an ITS technology partner to not only automate scheduling and dispatching, but also work with the transit agency through its evolving operational and ridership needs. The transit agency serves a diverse community of retirees, military personnel from two military bases, Biloxi (a major casino and tourist destination), Gulfport, commuters, and university students. With a 10% year over year increase in ridership demand, it was important for the agency to “stay ahead” of changes and influxes.
Like many transit agencies across the United States, the transit agency’s supervisor, dispatchers and 16 drivers had been using pen and paper, faxes and two- way radios to create and update passenger manifests and schedule routes and pick-ups. This took 10 hours of staff time a week, and resulted in $6,630 in annual administrative costs. Coast Transit Authority turned to RouteMatch Software, implementing core scheduling, automating and dispatching functions and in-vehicle mobile data devices for real-time tracking of vehicles and driver communications.
Since implementation, the new efficiencies and achieved ROI gains have been a welcome change to Coast Transit Authority.
Said Kevin Coggin, “RouteMatch’s technology is not only user- friendly and helps us do a better job, but also serves as a foundation for future regional coordination efforts. We have been most impressed with the software’s flexibility. We can maneuver data in multiple ways, and I can use all the route, schedules, billing and ridership information to plan ahead and fully understand and adjust my routes based on different and sometimes obscure variables. We reviewed many software applications that were larger and more expensive, but they would not give us the flexibility that we needed. We grew with the software, and the software easily stretched with us. RouteMatch Software is by far one of the best mid-priced software products on the market.”
Coast Transit Authority Uses RouteMatch for Evacuation Planning and Emergency Management
Coast Transit Authority has been able to extend RouteMatch’s flexible platform to serve as the technology and coordination foundation for Harrison County Emergency Management Agency. Coast Transit Authority works closely with Harrison County Emergency Management Agency and utilizes RouteMatch’s data management tools to input and maintain a pre-registration list for disabled citizens or citizens who are at risk who need emergency evacuation during hurricanes or other emergency situations. By geo-coding evacuation locations and easily creating evacuation routes and run paths through RouteMatch’s configurable software with point and clicks, Coast Transit Authority is prepared to quickly shift vehicles already in the field to “immediate evacuation mode” by locating each vehicle and communicating through mobile data devices, enabling faster and more efficient service to citizens. Each summer, evacuation drills are held surrounding this emergency management and coordination effort.
“Through the effort of Coast Transit Authority working as the Lead Agency in the Emergency Service Function #1 Transportation of Harrison County, transportation of citizens during any event/incident is handled professionally. Timely and extreme care is given to the needs of those in need,” said Rupert H. Lacy, MCEM, Director of Harrison County Emergency Management/Homeland Security/ E911 Commission. “Coast Transit Authority has moved people within the county and outside the affected area numerous times and their efforts are recognized nationwide.”
Future Plans to Bring Enhanced Traveler Information Systems and Customer Notification Technologies
Coast Transit Authority’s staff has been long committed to ongoing training through RouteMatch’s educational webinars and User Conference. The transit agency has maintained a keen interest in RouteMatch’s latest technological developments, reviewing additional technologies to bring even greater value. The transit agency is looking at RouteMatch’s interactive voice response technologies, for example, so that the agency’s customers can be notified or reminded of pre-planned trips. The agency is also looking at RouteMatch’s traveler information systems, RouteShout, so riders can text for information for scheduled and real-time bus arrival times through cell phones or smartphones, access traveler information via the Web, kiosks, electronic signage, and other public-facing mediums.
This integrated system can also be easily and quickly converted to become an effective pre- and post- disaster mass communication platform so Coast Transit Authority can push out urgent alerts, and customers can access more information during times of crisis.
“Coast Transit Authority is a terrific example of a progressive transit agency that has really thought out- of- the- box and maximized the value of their intelligent transportation systems investment,” said Tim Quinn, Co-founder and Executive Vice President, RouteMatch Software. “Coast Transit Authority’s management team and commitment to technology to run operations and provide emergency management have improved the lives and well-being of multiple communities. We are proud to be Coast Transit Authority’s long-term technology partner, and excited about new innovations to come.”
About Coast Transit Authority
Coast Transit Authority is a non-profit provider of public transportation for the three coastal counties of Mississippi. It is an independently managed public utility governed by a Board of commissioners. It is the designated recipient of State and Federal funding for urban transportation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
About RouteMatch Software
RouteMatch is the leading provider of end-to-end transit ITS software and innovative passenger and vehicle technology solutions. The company is headquartered in Atlanta, GA and works with more than 450 transit agencies across the U.S. and internationally, providing quality software and customer service. Partnering with public and private sector passenger transportation providers, the company’s products address routing, scheduling, dispatching, billing, reporting, fixed route CAD/AVL, paratransit and fixed route integration, traveler information services, fleet management, mobility management, and more. Additional information about RouteMatch’s ITS technologies are available at www.routematch.com or by calling RouteMatch toll-free at (US) 1-888-840-8791.