Wheel-Trans 10-Year Strategy
The objectives of the Wheel-Trans 10-Year Strategy will be delivered through a series of initiatives that will modernize and transform the way mobility services are provided to our customers. The initiatives are listed here with the objectives they support.
AODA legislation has two key impacts on eligibility for specialized transit services. The first is the inclusion of cognitive and sensory disabilities, which is expected to increase demand for service by 20% in a relatively short period of time. The other is the introduction of categories of eligibility: unconditional, temporary, and conditional. While we support the first two today, conditional eligibility will add complexity to the application process.
This initiative, already underway, is looking at how our regional and North American peers are addressing eligibility and its impact on the rider application process and trip planning/scheduling. We will also be looking for opportunities to implement industry best practices.
- Meet the eligibility requirements of AODA
- A sustainable service model for assessing and registering riders
- Defined requirements for input to all other initiatives
Family of Services
The TTC currently operates a family of services including subway, streetcar, bus and community bus that customers use for their trips.Change s to Wheel-Trans eligibility rules open up opportunities to make use of the entire family of TTC services to provide trips for registered Wheel-Trans customers. For customers with conditional eligibility, part of their trip may be on Wheel-Trans and part may be provided by another accessible mode of service. While this adds complexity to trip planning, it also offers the opportunity to further integrate Wheel-Trans and its customer into the broader TTC family of services. This frees up resources to serve riders with unconditional eligibility.
- A service model that includes all TTC modes of transportation, used in concert to provide the right ride at the right time at the right cost.
- Customers who can easily navigate our services, specialized and conventional, as appropriate
By operating a demand-response service, Wheel-Trans differs somewhat from the broader TTC in that it has a more intimate relationship with its customers. This customer base, while sharing common desires with the broader population , such as independence and spontaneity of travel, brings an additional set of needs. These twin requirements necessitate an extra focus on the customer relationship that goes deeper than that of the conventional service.
- Improved customer satisfaction
- Improved on-time performance
- Improved operating performance
- Reduction in customer complaints
Community & Stakeholder Relations
Wheel-Trans is facing an unprecedented transformation in a relatively short period of time. Key to making this a sustainable transition is timely and consistent communication with affected stakeholders. Rather than each initiative maintaining its own communication plan, we will centralize this effort as a single initiative.
- Delivery of the right message to the right stakeholders in the right manner at the right times
Our plans will only succeed with the engagement of Wheel-Trans employees and those of our providers. Leadership has a direct influence on staff behaviour so we need to create a culture that encourages everyone to excel while actively managing the minority of poor performers.
- A more positive work experience for staff and better employee satisfaction
- Improved operating performance
- Improved customer satisfaction
Process and technology underpin three core areas of our business: customer management, reservation & scheduling, and dispatch & vehicle location. Our transformation will place additional demands on us that will require process and technology changes.
We must perform an interim upgrade to the existing reservation, scheduling and dispatch system in order to immediate AODA requirements. From there we must explore technology decisions such as the use of CRM and the potential replacement of the existing reservation & scheduling systems.
- Interim upgrades to existing technology base to support base AODA requirements
- Improved abilities to manage customer information, customer relationships, ride reservation, scheduling and vehicle dispatch
- Improved support for same-day / right-now booking
Several of the strategic initiatives will implement new processes and/or technology that will require training for our employees - in both the Wheel-Trans and conventional systems - and those of our providers.
Rather than approaching this piecemeal, we will manage the training requirements of each initiative in a central manner. This will allow for a consistent, coordinated approach as the transformation proceeds.
- Consistent, high level of skill across all employees and those of our providers
While the bulk of our services are delivered throughout the city, our premises are an important factor in being able to deliver that service. While the Lakeshore Garage is managed by the Bus Maintenance and Shops department the facility is also home to Wheel-Trans operations and administrative offices. A recent review indicated that the existing facility will broadly support our needs for the next few years, but the proposed transformation will introduce new patterns of use for the operations and administration spaces.
- More efficient use of existing premises
- Improved employee satisfaction
As the demand for Wheel-Trans service has grown, so too has our dependence third parties. As an example, in 2008 50% of our service was provided through taxi providers. Today, more than 70% of trips are provided through taxi services. Third parties also play a significant role in applicant assessment. With the new eligibility rules, this reliance will expand.
In addition to direct support of our services we have contracts with vendors for software and non-core services (e.g. document imaging).
The critical nature of these contracts and the growth in the volume they now service will require a more robust and expanded focus on automated quality assurance.
- Consistent, high level of customer satisfaction
- Reliable and consistent delivery of service
- Maximum value obtained from provider contracts
- Credible data for real on-time service
Telephone Call Management
As part of the overall modernization effort, the TTC is currently looking at the technology in use in our contact centers. The goal of the exercise is to ensure that we have a solid base upon which to improve and expand customer service in our contact centers.
Wheel-Trans participation in this initiative will allow us to improve customer service operations in response to customer service deficiencies identified by the city auditor, and to a recent internal review which indicated that existing technology and processes will be challenged to respond to the coming increase in demand.
- Improved customer service in the contact center
- Improved employee satisfaction for contact center agents
- Improved call metrics (e.g. fewer abandoned calls)
Fleet Replacement Planning
The current Wheel-Trans fleet consists of custom built Friendly Buses and is nearing the end of its planned 10-year life cycle. Because of this, reliability is decreasing while maintenance and operating costs are increasing. In addition, today’s vehicles are no longer suitable for the current and expected mix of ambulatory and non-ambulatory riders.
A market search has been conducted to identify a replacement vehicle for the fleet that is more suited to the expected usage while at the same time offering a lower operational cost. The intent is also to move to a steady state replacement program where a number of vehicles with a shorter life-cycle is purchased each year, which will reduce impact on costs by avoiding mass replacement and mid-life refurbishment.
Pending budgetary funding, fleet replacement will begin in 2016 and continue each year thereafter.
- Modern fleet suited to the mix of riders
- Reduced operational costs
- Reduced maintenance costs
- Take advantage of technical advancements sooner
- Improved budget predictability through steady state replacement
Mobility Transfer Hubs
Under the Family of Services model, there will be designated transfer points between modes of service. These transfer points must be clean, dry and well lit with the overall goal being to offer a safe hand-off from one mode to another. While many transfers will likely occur at stations or in other existing facilities, there is a need to provide a limited number of transfer points where no such facility currently exists.
- Limited number of hubs in place to provide effective transfer from one mode of service to another
Community Bus Enhancements
Wheel-Trans currently operates five community bus routes that are designed to fill certain gaps in service where there is insufficient volume to warrant changes to conventional transit service. With the implementation of a family of services model comes the opportunity to both leverage community bus service for individuals with conditional eligibility and streamline the service for regular riders.
This initiative will examine current routes and usage patterns to identify opportunities for improvements. This includes a comparison against common Wheel-Trans trips in order to identify opportunities to leverage community bus for some trips.
- Improved ridership
- Redirection of Wheel-Trans trips to community bus