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ESTA tech upgrades geared toward efficiency

January 15, 2013

Eastern Sierra Transit Authority is preparing to install new software that will tell dispatchers exactly where each bus is when customers call Dial-a-Ride for pick-up. The system will be up and running in April. File photo

Eastern Sierra Transit Authority is getting a technological upgrade that aims to reduce wait times for riders and improve efficiency for drivers and dispatchers.
ESTA recently purchased computerized scheduling and dispatch software, called RouteMatch, for its Bishop Dial-a-Ride buses.
The $50,000 RouteMatch system, funded completely through state and federal transit grants, will provide an electronic tablet for each driver. Software on the portable computers will give ESTA dispatchers the real-time GPS locations of individual drivers each time a customer calls requesting a pick-up.
“ESTA’s dispatch staff will be able to schedule rides more efficiently by being able to view the vehicle locations in real-time,” ESTA Transit Analyst Jill Batchelder said. “Dispatch and driving staff will be able to communicate directly through the tablets, which will record the trip information, thereby reducing the driver and dispatcher’s administrative tasks.”
Batchelder added that the RouteMatch system also includes a built-in safety feature that disables the tablet when buses are in motion.
Right now, ESTA dispatchers communicate with drivers via two-way radios, and both are required to manually log pick-up and drop-off times and rider destinations for each trip.
“The RouteMatch Demand Response Software is specifically designed for rural agencies with the ability to meet the unique needs of the Bishop Dial-a-Ride service,” Batchelder said. “A few of the features offered with this system include data management and coordination, scheduling and route optimization and real-time service monitoring. What this means for ESTA’s passengers is easier appointment scheduling, more accurate arrival time information and a reduction in overall wait time.”
Batchelder added that a representative from RouteMatch will be evaluating ESTA’s services today to help tailor the program to meet local needs.
The whole system is expected to go live this April. Batchelder said Bishop is on an “advanced schedule” for the installation of RouteMatch software, but pointed out that “it takes some time” to get the program customized to meet Bishop’s needs and installed in the buses, not to mention training for dispatchers and drivers.
“This new software system will allow ESTA to enhance the quality of the Dial-a-Ride service for passengers in the Bishop area by building on current features such as the ability to make both advanced reservations and immediate response trip requests, as well as personalized door-to-door assistance,” Batchelder said.
For more information, call ESTA at (760) 872-1901 or visit www.estransit.com.

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