Interacting with passengers and evaluating how service plans roll out is all part of designing a quality transportation network.
Based in the United Kingdom, Somerset Passenger Solutions uses Optibus Planning, Scheduling, and Rostering to ensure services run on time in alignment with passenger demand and work schedules, as well as to incorporate into their service plans observations from the field that can improve passenger experience.
Somerset Passenger Solutions (SPS) is the shuttle operator providing all employee and passenger transportation services for the Hinkley Point C project in the United Kingdom. Their routes transport passengers from across Somerset, Minehead, Weston-Super-Mare, Taunton, and Bristol. In 2021, SPS became part of First Bus.
Challenges and Solutions
Staying connected to passengers
SPS plays a key role in connecting people to work. Their services transport 10,000 people each day to Hinkley Point C, carrying as many as 4,000 people during peak hours.
“I think the biggest challenge that we have is the demand,” said Josh Tobin, operation scheduler at SPS. “We have thirteen different schedules, one hundred and twenty eight buses, all running at the same time to the demand of the client.”
“It is a big job,” he added.
“I think the most important thing is with scheduling you can become very distant,” Josh explained. “Once we get the nitty-gritty hard work done, it’s then actually looking at how can we make it more effective? How does this impact people?”
SPS encourages Josh and his team to remove that distance by regularly observing how service plans fold out in reality, actually being at the bus stop when passengers board and alight, seeing the daily impact of schedules, and then trying to improve that service or maintain efficiency. Josh visits the work site anywhere from one to four times per month to assess how schedules are working out on the ground.
Those site visits help SPS to understand more about the passenger experience and discover opportunities for improvement.
“It’s not very often you get the opportunity to speak to someone you directly impact daily,” Josh noted.
SPS also collaborates with local communities in the area to ensure that journeys are managed to benefit local road users as well as the work site.
Using automation and digitalization to improve the passenger experience
Josh and his team use Optibus’ Planning, Scheduling, and Rostering products to plan their routes and timetables as efficiently as possible, so that schedules run on time and passengers can get where they need to go, when they need to go.
“I think the biggest thing Optibus has brought to us is making day-to-day, menial, very repetitive adjustments very much automated,” Josh said.
With the right tools at their disposal, Josh feels that he can create schedules that have a positive impact on passengers.
“Our job is to try and put a smile on their face,” Josh added.
“I don’t think we would be in a position now to meet the expectations of the client without Optibus, without that automation.”
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