Digitization through Optibus helped New Lantao Bus (1973) Limited (NLB), a subsidiary of Kwoon Chung Bus Holdings Limited (KCBH), to make scheduling a faster, more collaborative process. The result is higher quality, more efficient driver shifts that generated around $130,000 USD in annual savings. Better communication between schedulers reduced the scheduling process by days at a time and eliminated fines.
KCBH is a Hong Kong-based public transportation operator servicing Lantau Island, Hong Kong Island, New Territories, and the cross-boundary connections between HKSAR and Mainland China.
The company has grown over the years both organically and through multiple acquisitions, expanding their fleet to around 1,200 vehicles and diversifying their services to include school bus routes, employee shuttles, urban stage carriage and inter-city transportation, tourism, and charter services.
Today, the company is publicly traded (on the HKSE). As part of its commitment to continuous improvement, KCBH replaced its previous manual scheduling process with Optibus, initially at one of its subsidiaries (NLB), with the goal of reducing operating costs and streamlining its compliance.
Challenges & Results
Digitalizing Scheduling: $130,000 Saved by Optimizing Operations
NLB previously created its schedules manually. This made it difficult for schedulers to optimize crew and vehicle schedules while scaling up (or dealing with service developments), as manual work was time-consuming, prone to errors, and caused operational inefficiencies.
“Working with Optibus to digitize our operation was the solution to making it easier for schedulers to make work better for drivers,” said Jeannie Cheung, Operations Efficiency Officer at NLB.
Using Optibus Scheduling, NLB’s schedulers can now produce a more efficient, cost-effective schedule, faster than ever. They were able to reduce the paid time to operate a given level of service time by around 5%. Vehicle utilization was also improved with less PVR being required than before.
More efficient scheduling also improved drivers’ work conditions by enhancing the end-of-day depot locations.
“We saw that our drivers wanted to reduce the time and money spent on commuting,” said Jeannie at NLB. “Optibus helped us to redesign shifts in a smart way that better honors those preferences and sometimes allows drivers to take the bus home at the end of the day with them, instead of returning to our central depot.”
Maintaining 100% Compliance
Manual processes had prevented NLB from creating break and fatigue rules and vehicle quantity validations. Rules were not well defined or documented, leading to unintended violations, such as lateness, etc.
“Optibus’ platform created more transparency into the rules of operations. Our whole staff now better understand the regulations and we have a better relationship with the local Transport Department as a result,” said Jeannie.
Making Work 4X Faster
Finding the right balance between cost, service efficiency, and driver satisfaction had become incredibly challenging for NLB.
“One of the most time-consuming parts of scheduling was all the back-and-forth between schedulers and drivers in order to achieve the best scenario for all the stakeholders, schedulers, drivers, and passengers,” said Peter Chu, Senior Manager (Operations) at NLB.
NLB’s headquarters was issuing duty reports/schedules to each regional depot to collect feedback on routes, schedules, compliance, and more. Then things would be aligned manually.
“All this tedious, manual iterative processes made schedulers reluctant to make changes,” said Peter.
If something was not desired by a local depot, schedulers back at the central depot would sometimes need to invest even more time and effort into creating an alternative manual schedule. Before Optibus, it would take schedulers four days to update schedules based on feedback from the local depot. Now, with Optibus, schedulers are performing that same task in only one day.
“After Optibus, there is no way we are going back to manual scheduling,” said Mark Savelli, Operations Director at KCBH.