The launch of the National Bus Strategy (NBS) has given Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) more control over bus services. Prior to this, operators had driven most of the decision making due to buses being largely run on a commercial basis.
There is now a bigger push, not only for commercial services, but also socially necessary services to meet the needs of local communities, and LTAs are responsible for ensuring that both services are provided.
This shift is expected to drive an increase in the number of subsidised routes and in turn, will increase the volume of services put out to tender and the workload of managing contracted services.
Streamline network processes
The increase in subsidised routes will be challenging for a lot of LTAs and particularly those who have a limited number of staff. Trying to manage the process with a manual system will be very time-consuming and is susceptible to data errors. LTAs should look to implement software to streamline this process and improve efficiency.
Software solutions can improve the efficiencies of the tender process by producing timetables that can be easily edited, and automatically transferred electronically to the contract register. This integration removes manual input, ensuring data accuracy and adding significant time savings.
As well as this, there is also functionality to automate the calculations and operator payment process by utilising actual performance and compliance data. This ensures operators receive accurate and prompt payment.
Ensure tenders are operated as planned
It’s imperative that LTAs ensure services are delivered to specification. Contract management tools give LTAs a base record which can be compared with ticket machine data to see the collected revenue and ensure services have operated in line with the contract.
Software systems can flag to the LTA if there is missing ETM data or if the route hasn’t operated as planned. The operator then has an opportunity to insert the reason why that data was missing, and this creates a full audit trail that both parties can refer to.
All of this data can be collated in one central location so users can access the information they need quickly and easily without having to check multiple systems.
Conduct commercial analysis
LTAs need to work with operators to identify and evidence the need for subsidy on routes that are no longer commercially viable but are socially or economically necessary. In order to do this, both the LTA and operator need access to systems that can breakdown the cost per mile and cost per passenger.
Software solutions can extract date from multiple systems automatically and analyse the results to see all network data in one place. Data can be broken down by day and time band and presented in a visual format using dashboards with graphs and heatmaps to give a clear network overview and help target subsidies where they are needed most.
How EPM Group can help
With over 30 years’ experience in software and consultancy services, EPM Group has a comprehensive knowledge of the bus industry and works with five of the seven PTEs in the UK as well as a range of local authorities to streamline their organisational processes. Our broad, fully integrated software range covers a multitude of functions from operations through to commercial and engineering. To book a free consultation to see how we can assist with your challenges and requirements, complete the online form or call 01527 556940.