Västtrafik books journeys consisting of multiple forms of transport in just one work-stream
Is it possible to provide a better service for residents with special transport needs, and at the same time both save money and benefit the environment? This succeeded for Västtrafik. An investment in an integration between their existing booking and journey planner systems means that Västtrafik is now able to book the fastest, cheapest and most environmentally-friendly journey for people with just one work-stream, even though the journey may involve a combination of taxi, bus, train and special patient transport bus services.
“Previously, disabled and elderly citizens of the Västra Götaland region would typically have to book several different partial journeys when they rang us wanting to get from A to B,” says Jonas Johansson, project manager at Västtrafik. “It took a long time, because first we had to check the timetables and then book the individual sections of the journey separately.”
Automation of work-streams
Västtrafik thought that it might be possible to automate the numerous work-streams, so they got in touch with the Trapeze company PLANit, which was already providing Västtrafik’s booking system. The solution was an integration between Västtrafik’s booking and journey planner systems, so Västtrafik can automatically book the trips suggested by the journey planner.
Easy booking of trips suggested by journey planner
“We are typically presented with several different suggestions, and we can then choose the one that suits the passenger best,” says Jonas Johansson. “The only thing we have to do is tell the system who the person is and where he or she wants to travel to and from. Then the journey planner immediately displays several suggestions that match the person’s wishes and eligibility, and when we select a particular journey, it is automatically booked at once in our booking system.”
Overview across all forms of transport
“Prior to the integration, we expanded the journey planner, so that it would be able to give us the necessary information,” continues Jonas Johansson. “Previously we could only use it to view the special patient transport services, and we were only able to see one service at a time – not the connections between the individual services. Today we can see what the options are for combining all the different forms of transport Västtrafik is responsible for, i.e. taxi, bus, train and patient transport services. It benefits both us and the passengers.”
Better economy, better service and more environmentally-friendly
“The new solution means that it is far easier for us to offer journeys by ordinary public transport as an alternative to special transport,” Jonas Johansson elaborates. “It means we can save a lot of money and at the same time spare the environment, because we offer fewer special trips, and instead replace these with public transport services, which are, of course, already running. The money the health sector saves can be spent on actual health services rather than on transport, so it also benefits citizens in that way as well.
Greater flexibility and shorter waiting times
For passengers the new offer has numerous advantages. A journey by public transport is often faster than one by special vehicle, and passengers gain greater flexibility, because they have a larger number of different travel options and are no longer dependent on special patient transport services that only run a limited number of trips in a week. In addition, changes between the different forms of transport are planned optimally to make waiting times as short as possible.
An important step towards the combined journey
For Västtrafik, the integration between booking and journey planner systems solved a challenge they had been speculating over for several years. Jonas Johansson explains: “We have known for a long time that at some point we needed to be able to offer citizens integrated travel, but we didn’t know how we were going to manage it. With this integration between booking and journey planner systems, we have achieved an important step on the way towards always being able to offer citizens a single combined journey.”
Agile cooperation a big success
Regarding the actual cooperation with PLANit, Jonas Johansson also only has positive comments to make. “At the start we focused a little too much on technical specifications, but at some point we stopped and asked ourselves how we could best achieve the goal we had set for ourselves. This meant that we began instead to work agilely with a larger number of short sprints and a meeting once a fortnight, either in person or by telephone. In this way, we achieved closer contact, and now we were no longer two separate teams from Västtrafik and PLANit respectively – we became one team, with everyone working towards the same goal. Everyone involved could clearly see the results of their work along the way, and so working on the project became much more fun. And what is more, the employees ended up performing better than we had reckoned on, so it was a big success!” Jonas Johansson concludes.
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