Customer pick-up/drop-off management
Unlike regular public transport, management of customer pick-up and drop-off is required for DRT services for the following main reasons:
- In DRT services, many or all of the customers pre-book their trips. There is an obligation to fulfil the request.
- The DRT service may be the only vehicle to provide the needed service. As it operates on demand, there might not be another suitable trip for quite some time.
- In some cases, especially in rural areas, it might be the only transport service of any kind in the area, or even on that day. Failure to fulfil a request could leave the customer stranded. In harsh climates, this could have serious consequences.
- In many DRT systems there is a high proportion of elders and people with mobility or cognitive challenges. They may become quite distressed if they are not picked-up.
- Drop-offs are also important, but if that is not fulfilled properly, at least the customer is on the vehicle and the transit operator can arrange to get the person to their destination.
The main stages of the customer pick-up/drop-off management have the following main elements, most of which are generated and managed through the ITS system software:
- Ensure that a travel request is generated and confirmed for each booking
- Ensure that each travel request is assigned to specific trip, and that the travel request and all it attributes are secure on any subsequent travellers reassignments or route optimisation
- Generate a manifest for every trip, which includes the customer identifier (usually name), pick-up location and scheduled time, set-down location and scheduled time, customer needs information, and payment/pass information. In some cases, a telephone contact number is also given.
- Transfer the manifest to the driver, either electronically to an in-vehicle device/PDA or in printed form. Copy the manifest to the DRT dispatching centre.
- Where an in-vehicle unit is used, display to the driver the next activity pick-up and set-downs. In many systems, the driver confirms that each event has occurred by pressing a button or touching the screen. This allows the system to keep track and to provide a visual and audio alarm if an event is missed. Many systems also alert the driver when/if the vehicle is running behind schedule.
- In parallel, the DRT dispatcher monitors the activities on the route, checks that scheduled pick-ups/set-downs are confirmed as expected, and provides support to the driver. If a vehicle is running behind schedule and is required to make a significant diversion for a customer, the dispatcher may manually assign the task to another vehicle that can accommodate it.
- End-of-trip and end-of duty/day reports are generated, with a check that all scheduled travel requests were performed.
Technologies, data and resources
The Customer Pick-up and Set-Down Management application consists of software modules that are normally included in the broader DRT management system. The information is generated by the Traveller Assignment and Route Assignment applications.
In-vehicle driver display units or PDAs are used to show the trip manifest and the listing of pick-up and set-down events. The display unit can also be used to provide maps and directions, especially in rural areas where the driver might not be familiar with the location or address.
Advantages and Cautions
The primary advantages of Customer Pick-up and Set-Down Management application for DRT are to:
- Provide a structured process to ensure that travel requests are known to drivers and operations support personnel
- Ensure that no pick-ups or set-downs are overlooked, and generate records to verify that this has been achieved
- Avoid disappointment and distress for passengers, and ensuing negative image
The principal cautions in relation to Customer Pick-up and Set-Down Management applications for DRT are:
- The processes and system needs to be validated from time to time.
Relevant Case Studies
Prince William County