Could Vehicle Automation Revolutionize Human Services Transportation?

May 28, 2014

Yesterday Google released several videos which give an update on their progress towards developing self-navigating car technology.

While the possible benefits of increased safety, decreased stress and increased productivity for motorists are pretty exciting, self-navigating vehicles could prove especially transformational to human services transportation providers. These essential services provide low income, disabled and elderly residents access to jobs and service providers, though at a steep cost. Due to lower passenger volumes and longer travel distances, these services tend to have much lower farebox recovery ratios than conventional fixed route transit services. Automation could possibly lower labor costs, which could lead to service expansion and allow caretakers to focus more on their passengers rather than traffic.

Find out more about Google’s self-driving car project here.


CPACS Express Bus Line Celebrates Its One Year Anniversary

November 18, 2013

Mentioned in an early TSPOT post, last week the Center for Pan Asian Community Services, Inc. (CPACS) celebrated the one year anniversary of the CPACS Express Bus Line — the premier source of affordable transportation for the Asian and Pacific Islander refugee and immigrant community in Clarkston, GA.

CPACS Express serves as an employment mobility project granted by the Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) and New Freedom  funding programs through the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) to connect and increase mobility options for the Clarkston community in DeKalb County. Over the course of the last year the CPACS Express was able to serve 5,875 riders with round-trip door to door service and provide 944 community members with training regarding how to access the CPACS Express as well as MARTA.

One of those riders is Tika Devi Acharya, who faced difficulties in securing transportation to work. “One day my former driver stopped taking me to work due to long distance and spending too much money in gas. I had no option so just had to quit that job.”, explained Acharya. Thanks to the CPACS Express Bus Line, Acharya now has access to a reliable transportation option which allowed her to return to her previous place of employment.

Henry and Coweta Turn to Technology to Improve Demand Response Transit Service

May 3, 2013


Transit agencies in Henry and Coweta Counties are leveraging technology to increase ridership and  improve operational efficiencies related to scheduling and dispatching. Both agencies are utilizing an automated scheduling and dispatching software produced by the Atlanta-based firm RouteMatch to reduce or eliminate paperwork, accommodate more trip requests and verifications, and improve transit routing.

“RouteMatch has helped us become light years ahead of where we were,” says Tavores Edwards, Transportation Manager at Coweta County Transportation and Engineering Department. Since installation, Coweta County dispatchers have moved from pen-and-paper scheduling to an automated system and have improved trip performance, increasing the number of trips they are able to accommodate to an average of 500 per month per vehicle for 2013, up from 448 per vehicle for 2012.

“We are able to accept and schedule many more trips with RouteMatch Software, than we did before,” Tavores says, who was able to schedule 600 trips a month on three vehicles in January 2013. The improvements include tablet installations on all vehicles, which  has created an easy and efficient communication tool between drivers and dispatch operators. Tablets provide drivers with turn-by-turn navigation, route and scheduling information and access automatic vehicle location data. Thanks in part to this investment, Coweta Transit has achieved a 14 percent increase in overall ridership over the last five months from the same period last year.

Henry County Transit also has had success with RouteMatch, using their notification system to deliver automated phone reservations, allowing for greater customer access and less demand on agency staff. When coupled with automatic vehicle location (AVL), notification calls may be provided based on real-time vehicle arrival estimates, giving customers a friendly reminder and reducing dwell time and unnecessary vehicle idling.

“The Notification Module has changed the way we interact and contact passengers,” says David Williamson, Henry County Transit’s Director of Transit. “It has been very beneficial to us, our riders and their ability to cancel trips. The great thing about RouteMatch is if you insert the data, there is almost no limit to the amount of information you can get back out of it in terms of ad hoc reporting, and that has been very useful.” Overall the system has helped Henry decrease rider no-shows by 20 percent despite steady increases in demand for their demand response transit service.

ARC Recognized for Improving Mobility and Access in DeKalb County

November 21, 2012

CPACS ribbon-cutting ceremony for new JARC funded shuttle

Following up on an earlier post, the Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS) recently presented the Atlanta Regional Commission with a Certificate of Appreciation for outstanding contributions to improving mobility and access for Georgia Immigrants and Refugees in DeKalb County.

CPACS is the sub recipient of FY 2008 and 2010 Federal Transit Administration Job Access and Reverse Commute grant funding administered by ARC. These awards were for the development and implementation of an employment transportation and mobility project in the Clarkston Community.

CPACS currently owns and operates two 14-passenger express shuttles used to connect the Asian and Pacific Islander refugee and immigrant community in Clarkston, Georgia with employment opportunities, training, and education. The express shuttles also connect and increase mobility options particularly for the Bhutanese, Burmese, and Nepali communities in Clarkston, Georgia.

JARC Grant Funding Expands Mobility in Dekalb County

November 9, 2012
The Center for Pan Asian Community Services, Inc. (CPACS) will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony to launch the CPACS Express, a bus line dedicated to the Clarkston Mobility Project, on Wednesday, November 14, 2012 from 10:00am to 12:00pm at 3510 Shallowford Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30341. CPACS is a private nonprofit located in Atlanta, Georgia whose mission is to promote self-sufficiency and equity for immigrants, refugees, and the underprivileged through comprehensive health and social services, capacity building, and advocacy.
CPACS will present its two, 14-passenger CPACS Express shuttle buses to the Asian & Pacific Islander (API) refugee and immigrant community and those who helped bring the project to fruition. The ceremony marks the inception of affordable transportation for the API refugee and immigrant community in Clarkston, Georgia.
CPACS Express also serves as an employment mobility project granted by the Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) Program and New Freedom Funds through the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) to connect and increase mobility options for the Clarkston community in DeKalb County. CPACS will greatly increase mobility opportunities within the area particularly for the Bhutanese, Burmese, and Nepali communities.

Shifting Gears – Car Automation and Mobility

September 28, 2012

By now you may have heard the recent news out of California regarding autonomous car legislation. California Senate Bill 1298, which lays out the framework for the testing, development and deployment of self-driving vehicles, was signed Tuesday by Governor Jerry Brown.

While the technology will likely take time and effort to mature (Google CEO Sergey Brin predicts widespread availability within five years) it’s easy to envision the benefits offered by an autonomous car, such as increased safety, fuel efficiency, decreased traffic congestion and that block of “down time” for commute productivity which patrons of transit have long enjoyed. Undoubtedly, a perfected driverless car represents the absolute pinnacle of Intelligent Transportation Systems.

However, perhaps the greatest benefit offered would be the promise of increased mobility for individuals whose disabilities currently limit their transportation options. A fully developed driverless car has the potential to help fill the gaps in coverage of some existing human services transportation (HST) services, while also helping to stretch decreasing federal funds (such as the FTA New Freedom and Elderly Transportation programs) for traditional HST services.

Project Call Pending for FY 2012 JARC & New Freedom Funding

September 24, 2012

The Atlanta Regional Commission , in partnership with the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, is planning to call for projects in the 18-County Atlanta Urbanized Area for Job Access & Reverse Commute (JARC) and New Freedom Program funds for fiscal years 2012. In addition, the ARC will also award funds carried over from FY 2011. These Federal Transit Administration (FTA) program funds are available for projects that improve transportation for low‐income individuals, people with disabilities, and older adults.

The call for projects applies for available JARC and New Freedom funds. The total funds available are shown below. The amount actually awarded during this call process may be less than the total available and will be determined based on the number and quality of applications.

FY 2012 Funds Available:

$1,561,449 for JARC projects

$994,221 for New Freedom projects

FY 2011 Residual Funds Available:

$138,037 for JARC projects

$230,671 for New Freedom projects

Funds will be awarded through a competitive selection process, which will be administered by ARC. The selected projects will be forwarded to FTA for final review and approval before funds will be available for use by successful applicants. The application package will provide additional information about the selection process.

A grant application workshop is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, October 18th from 9:30- 12:00 PM. Further information and materials will be made available early next week at ARC’s Human Services Transportation page.