Challenge / Goal
The Ongar Academy, a secondary school in the Ongar civil parish of Essex in England offers a pick-up and drop-off between the homes of their students and the school. The 7 minibuses the school provided caused many difficulties in moving over 130 students over an area of nearly 200 sq km.
Similar to other rural areas, the difficulty is compounded by large catchment areas with scattered populations, making the optimisation of linear routes and sticking to strict timetables a difficult task.
During the fist days the solution just offered the regular on-demand service with the existing 7 minibuses. The algorithm and on-demand platform was adapted to meet the strict pick-up and drop-off-time requirements of the home-to-school transit. Rides were pre-programed in bulk and students were collected from virtual stops placed at the optimal distance between each home. While monitoring the operation, Shotl's mobility experts realised that the service could be greatly improved by offering users (parents in this case) the additional opportunity to cancel rides using the Passenger App, which provided great flexibility.
Before the start of any operation we always do focus groups with the municipalities and end users. In this case following some steps: (1) Initial meetings with relevant staff of the Town Hall, (2) Calls with local experts, (3) Focus group with potential customers, (4) Interviews with end users, and (5) Visit the city to obtain direct knowledge of the area.
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