Now, in light of the overwhelming and successful response to the digital delivery systems of bus times and route information, Lake County’s transit agency is seeking to blaze a trail in developing and implementing the same technology program it uses on its fixed routes for its Dial-a-Ride service.
“We believe we are the first in the nation to explore real-time arrival for door-to-door operations,” Jurkowski said. “Real-time arrival signs have served as a great tool for local route riders, and Laketran is eager to partner with TripSpark Technologies (of Cleveland) to offer the same information for our popular and high-density Dial-a-Ride service.”
TripSpark Technologies and Laketran have agreed on a framework for a new product not currently offered by Trapeze, an international technology provider and operating company of Constellation Software Inc.
The software will allow Laketran to display real-time arrival information for individual customers at designated private locations, such as medical offices. The information will also be available through a secured website for office staff.
Donna McNamee, Laketran board member and chairwoman of operations, said the new signs will provide flexibility and level the playing field for all riders.
“This is an industry-wide program that doesn’t exist right now. While real-time information is traditionally seen on rail or bus lines, Dial-a-Ride customers also want to know when their bus is going to arrive. Our Dial-a-Ride service is nationally recognized and this will be just one more way Laketran’s service goes above and beyond the Americans with Disabilities Act’s minimum accessibility standards for seniors and people with disabilities,” she said.
Currently, customers are given a 30-minute pickup window and an automatic reminder call when the bus is on its way. The real-time Dial-a-Ride program will be initially tested at a limited number of locations across Lake County that serve as popular destinations for Dial-a-Ride riders including senior centers, medical offices and social service agencies, beginning with Mentor-based Beacon Health.
Shayna Jackson, chief clinical officer at Beacon Health, said the technology will be great tool for the office.
“This is an incredibly valuable service,” she said.” Having real-time arrival information available will be less stressful for our clients, and knowing our staff can check on the arrival and departure times of clients will allow us to improve customer service and manage the timing of our appointments. This is a huge thing in restoring recovery, also. We’re happy Laketran reached out to us and we’re excited to be a part of it. This is a great complement to the services we provide.”
Locations using this program will have the option to have an electronic sign in their waiting area with the rider’s name and the time that the bus will arrive. Each location will have the flexibility to edit how customers’ names are displayed. In addition to the signs, each location will be able to log in to the Laketran website to access the real-time information for customers at their location.
“We anticipate the signs will be popular in our higher traffic locations like Lake County Board of Developmental Disabilities worksites, senior centers and larger health care facilities. Some sites will be comfortable posting rider information, while others may prefer front desk staff to use a website for confidentiality,” Jurkowski said.
Laketran secured the purchase for half the cost in agreement to help in the development of the software. The total cost of the project is $52,000, with 80 percent to be paid by federal grants. Laketran will provide a local 20 percent match funded by the agency’s 0.25 percent local sales tax revenue.