Optimal On-demand Deployment and Timetable App Integration
Since December 2019, the Munich Transport and Tariff Association (MVV) has been using a fully automated MENTZ vehicle deployment system for on-demand transport. To this end, the MVV cooperates with the district of Fürstenfeldbruck and has integrated the former call-a-taxis into its digital timetable and booking platform. All call-a-taxi operations in the district of Fürstenfeldbruck are now managed by MENTZ’s vehicle deployment system: from registering a passenger’s journey request over the journey planner (EFA) and MVV app, followed by fully automatic vehicle deployment, including capacity management of vehicles available, to relaying the route to the driver and response to the passenger.
On-demand transport has grown significantly in recent years. It is regarded as one of the keys to the mobility of the future because it complements regular operation. In the district of FFB, tens of thousands of on-demand trips have been booked per year. Yet with such great success, on-demand transport operations have reached their limits. The issue: on-demand transport is seemingly difficult to plan. It is challenging to predict when people need to be transported. Transport companies have to react on short notice and ensure that sufficient capacity is available. The planning effort involved in this endeavor is cumbersome. Previously, hundreds of daily trip requests had to be managed in a calendar, and drivers had to be called about each trip and informed where and when they should pick up which passengers.
In addition to operational hurdles, other challenges needed to be overcome like empty runs or multiple trips for just a single passenger. The procedure after a trip, to create an invoice and then check it, is very time and cost intensive. This is where the MENTZ vehicle deployment system is most advantageous: every step of an on-demand booking can be optimized and automated.
One-click On-demand Transport – Flexible and Convenient
The common data of on-demand transport, operating times and public transport stops are stored in the MVV’s EFA journey planner. If a user sends a request through the MVV Companion 5 app or the MVV website, EFA automatically offers ideal routes that make use of on-demand transport. Now all it takes is one click to request on-demand transport and the booking is automatically processed and effected. Immediate feedback is provided whether the request can be fulfilled.
In addition to using digital media, passengers can also request a trip by calling the MVV call center. An agent will then book the individual trip request using a custom designed interface. In order for customers to be properly informed of the precise time the trip will occur, the telephone bookings can even be checked in the app or on the website. The call center can also cancel trip requests made over the phone. If necessary, every trip request can be also accessed and adjusted through all the various media channels.
Booking of trip requests is seamlessly integrated into the existing EFA system. This means that customers are not forced to switch to an external website or app and reenter their details. It makes the whole booking process more fluid and user-friendly. Only one-time registration is required to ensure this flexibility in booking trip requests. After creating a user account by entering an e-mail address, name and telephone number, the status of the trip request can be accessed at any time.
Barrier-free, also in on-demand transport
To ensure that trips are fully accessible, vehicles equipped for wheelchairs are deployed on-demand. This means that an already pooled booking is automatically optimized and a suitable vehicle is subsequently deployed. An example: a normal minibus is deployed for a trip request that was received.
A subsequent request from a passenger in a wheelchair could be covered by the previously booked trip, but the deployed vehicle is not equipped for wheelchair users. There is, however, an adequate vehicle in the available pool. This equipped vehicle from the pool is thus rescheduled and deployed differently, the previous request is transferred to the second vehicle. The originally scheduled minibus is now available for other booking requests. Throughout the process, the seat capacities of the individual vehicles are always taken into account.
Consistent Information for All Passengers of a Trip
The deployment system already enables seamless operation of on-demand transport from booking to invoicing and accounting. However, according to the authorities in Fürstenfeldbruck, developments are already in planning. Primarily, the developments are intended to optimize usability and to improve communication in all directions. The MENTZ development team is already working on a solution for recurring bookings, a kind of subscription to on-demand trips. This feature will especially benefit commuters. Another plus point: a situation will be fixed in which users had to actively inquire about the status of their bookings and departure times. Once a trip has been requested, an active push notification will be sent directly to a passenger’s phone to inform them about everything they need to know for their booked on-demand trip. Simply intelligent.