A common problem for demand response systems is the occurrence of “no shows.” One way we have successfully cut back on the incidence of no-shows for our Dial-A-Ride systems is through the use of an automated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system that dials the telephone numbers of clients who have booked trips, and plays an automated Text to Speech (TTS) personalized message reminding them of their scheduled pickup date and time. Our IVR Ride Reminder system is a great cost-saving use of technology because it requires virtually no additional labor, yet reduces instances of people not showing up for their rides.
Recognizing the expanding use of text messaging on mobile devices, combined with the proliferation of email usage in general, our Technical Services team developed an instant mass messaging system which we call the “Bat Signal.” Used during unexpected transit events that would require immediate notification to several different entities, the Bat Signal simultaneously sends a text message to all devices (smart phones, desktop computers, etc.) on the list to receive them. It is a robust and efficient alternative to sending individual messages, or instituting a phone tree as would have been the case without this technology. It has proven to be an effective communications tool that our customers value.
In addition to providing accessible transit services, Paratransit Services has been performing ADA transit eligibility certification for several years as part of our contracts in Tehama and Glenn Counties, California. Based on our success with those contracts, we have also taken over that aspect of the transit program for Lassen Rural Bus in our Susanville, California, office. Certification for ADA transit is performed by our local staff using our in-house ADA Transit Certification Database to track and archive applicant information.
Paratransit Services uses TripSpark software (see Tech Partners) to broker Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) for Medicaid clients, a service we provide under contract with the State of Washington from our call center in the Seattle-area city of Bremerton. The TripSpark program allows easy access to a variety of brokerage scheduling functions, while minimizing the amount of time required to process a ride request. Paratransit Services has developed software applications that complement the capabilities of TripSpark: Trip Booking Wizard, Broker Dashboard, and Customer Care. These applications have resulted in improved on-line access for clients, increased scheduling proficiency, and enhanced analytics of customer-reported issues.
In 1987, recognizing the potential of the emerging desktop computing technology for transit applications, Paratransit Services began development of Rides Unlimited™, a software program to increase the efficiency of our trip scheduling processes. Operating in the Windows environment, "Rides" is easy to use and provides extensive trip and passenger information to the user. Although we sold this program in 1996 (to Trapeze Software), we retain the right to use it and continue to find it useful for many of our current operations.
Our Information Technology staff provides 24/7 support for all of our transit and call center operations. Led by our Director of Information Technology, Wayne Evans, our Bremerton-based technicians provide hardware, software, and network maintenance for our corporate offices as well as all of our satellite locations. A software developer with extensive experience in information systems, Wayne has made many cutting-edge contributions to Paratransit Services’ technical capabilities. He is proficient in programming new software features for our scheduling applications, and creating ad hoc reports drawn from our databases. Wayne, who has been with Paratransit Services since 2004, keeps all of our technical systems running at peak performance levels. In 2014 he was honored with an "Outstanding CIO" award by the Puget Sound Business Journal.