Geo-fencing is a powerful tool in scheduling trips. ParaPlan uses geo-fences called zones to label specific geographic areas. Recently, we talked about how to create zones from GPX files and how to create zones from a city name. Today, we are going to talk about how zones can be used during autoschedule to keep vehicles working in a specific region of the service area.
As a recap, zones restrict routes to only perform trips that start and stop in that zone. A route labeled North that is set up around downtown and northern suburbs would not be eligible to perform a trip for Mrs. Jones on the south side of the city. Eligible means that ParaPlan will not auto schedule Mrs. Jones to a route in the North zone. It also means that the reservation for Mrs. Jones will not include North routes on the quick trip assignment. Only routes that contain south side zones OR no zone at all will be in the route drop down list on the reservation screen. This is a new feature in ParaPlan and will greatly reduce scheduling errors during the reservation intake phase.
We typically see three different types of trips, geographically speaking. Service-based trips, needs-based trips and out of town trips.
Service-based trips would cover trips to the grocery store, bank, or the drugstore. These trips are short in distance and short in duration. Usually they occur within the bounds of a single city. Quite frequently, it makes the most the sense for the driver to wait for the client to finish their business, then take them back home. When setting up a zone to perform service-based trips, a good design would encompass the residential and commercial areas of a city or suburban area.
Needs-based trips typically transport a client to a specialized facility. This could be a daycare or dialysis center. Generally, these places are centrally located and serve individuals from a large region. To set up zones to service these trips, include several known residential areas and the central downtown district.
Out of town
Out of town trips can have zones if the situation calls for it. If there are frequent trips to a facility over 50 miles away then creating a zone that encompasses both areas would make sense. Otherwise, just don’t assign a zone to a route. This will make the route eligible to perform any trip.
By knowing the kinds of trips being performed, users can set up a medley of service-based and needs-based routes to efficiently schedule a large batch of trips. This will keep vehicles working in a very specific region. It is much better for drivers to stay in familiar areas. If they are comfortable driving the bus and appear relaxed, the passengers will also feel more comfortable. We understand how important this is for special needs transportation.