Based in the Lisbon area of Portugal, Transportes Sul do Tejo (TST) is a private operator managing 140 routes across three operational units and serving over 2.3 million passengers each month with their fleet of approximately 339 vehicles.
TST needed to mobilize for an important new operation in Area 3, the southern part of the Lisbon Metropolitan Area. By using Optibus’ software, the company significantly reduced the time needed to create and iterate its operational plans.
This case study explores how TST managed to build their new operations from scratch, initially reducing the peak vehicle requirement (PVR) by 10%, using Optibus’ software platform. The findings presented here are based on interviews conducted with Duarte Cunha, Planning and Operational Control Manager at TST.
Before switching to Optibus, TST used older digital tools for planning and scheduling. Many processes were carried out manually. Because all local and national regulations had to be entered individually, this process was very labor intensive and time consuming. The creation and iteration of different planning and timetable scenarios took days.
Consequently, TST could not submit as many changes as they wanted or implement any major network or schedule changes because time was simply too short. Furthermore, due to the lack of visibility into iterations and scenarios, TST lacked a quick way to calculate and display relevant key performance indicators (KPIs), which would have accelerated their decision making.
As TST prepared for a new operation in the Southern Lisbon Metropolitan Area, they faced a comprehensive and resource-consuming planning process. They needed to account for several factors in their Annual Operational Plan, as requested by Transportes Metropolitanos Lisboa, the local public transportation agency (PTA), including:
- The type and quantity of vehicles needed to operate services
- The frequency, timing, and routing of proposed services
- Duty allocation and planning
Moreover, additional documentation was required on:
- Compliance with all relevant laws and regulations
- Success measures such as on-time performance
The reference time schedules of the PTA presented in the offer plan would not have resulted in an efficient operation, as the schedules required more vehicles than necessary. Thus, to improve their service quality and upgrade their fleet, TST turned to Optibus to boost their operational efficiency.
Duarte Cunha, Planning and Operations Manager at TST, knew the importance of digital tools in setting up and optimizing planning processes. So, he joined a digitization project at the company, opting for replacing the older tools they were using from several external providers with an overall IT system for planning and operations, onboard systems, and client interaction platforms and back office solutions.
As part of that new system, TST selected the Optibus platform to help them take their planning and operations to the next level. Optibus’ end-to-end, cloud-native software solution ensures that their timetable data flows directly into Optibus’ Scheduling product and is properly incorporated into the operator’s scheduling preferences. The algorithm does the heavy lifting, so that TST can make data-driven decisions, fast.
Using advanced optimization algorithms, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI), Optibus helps planners to do their work more efficiently and faster, and reduces labor costs due to time savings. The algorithms and AI help them quickly view and analyze vast amounts of data to identify patterns and insights.
Impact and Benefits
Using the Optibus Planning product along with its Timetable Optimization feature, TST was able to reduce their PVR by almost 10% initially. The information provided by the PTA was not specific enough and only became more detailed in the offer plan. By inserting the reference schedule provided by the PTA into Timetable Optimization, TST was able to reduce the PVR stated initially by the PTA from 340 vehicles to around 307. Thus, this plan increased their operational efficiency and planning productivity.
“Optibus’ software was vital to us building an operation from scratch,” said Duarte.
Optibus’ platform supported TST by enabling the company to create scenarios in hours (and even just a few minutes) instead of days, determining immediately the amount level of resources required to meet standards of the PTA, passengers, and TST’s workforce, and implementing rules and preferences that significantly reduced the manual workload.
TST has now achieved operational excellence, instituting an efficient and effective use of resources, a framework of continuous improvements, and focusing on exceeding passenger expectations.
Optibus’ Operations product had an additional positive impact on TST’s workforce. Duty allocation became fairer, as it became based on data, preferences, and rules, and drivers’ needs, rather than the personal preferences of the person who created the roster.
Preparing for new operations in public transportation is a resource-consuming and comprehensive process. Modern digital planning software solutions help to automate tedious tasks, process vast amounts of data, and enable data-backed decisions when it comes to defining operational details.
By using Optibus’ software, public transportation operators such as TST can significantly increase their efficiency, save costs, and reach operational excellence by optimizing all aspects across their organization.