At Bledsystem we have been working on eco-driving and operations efficiency and safety projects for more than 10 years now. We have been dealing with quite a diverse client base: mainly metropolitan bus operators, government and private owned, from 100 to 1000 buses, from several countries in Europe and Northern Africa. That was an exciting journey!
All of our accumulated battlefield experience and know-how is the main reason we are able to present these four key lessons learned and two FAQs we want to share with you, if you as a bus operator want to decisively increase efficiency and safety of your fleet in the long term:
These are the four key lessons learned:
- You need the right technology but most important, you need a methodology behind.
- Make a plan according to your organization’s reality and stick to it: Plan, Do, Check, Act.
- Embrace internal communication around your implementation plan.
- Don’t create artificial procedures, make the system work based on your existing ones.
KL 1. You need the right technology but most important, you need a methodology behind
Keep in mind that technology alone won’t work, your project will be a failure without the right and effective processes in place. Thus, you need a system and a methodology behind the technology. That is, you need to know which actions to take, where to start from and how to follow up, which tools and processes to implement when and with whom.
And regarding any new technology, the best approach is to take advantage of the existing infrastructure for increased cost efficiency and staff acceptance. Also, to seek standardization and interoperability. This will allow you not to be locked in any vendor’s or proprietary solution. We will provide more information on this topic in a future post.
KL 2. Make a plan according to your organization’s reality and stick to it: Plan, Do, Check, Act
This may seem obvious, but it is a crucial step that cannot be overlooked. Surprisingly, many projects lack this crucial step.. Plan realistic objectives based on right and accurate information, Implement progressive actions towards them, in order to implement effective actions andaccording to the maturity and special conditions of your operations. Regularly review and adjust the plan, at least once a year.
KL 3. Embrace internal communication around your implementation plan
Once you define your objectives, action plan and annual reviews, don’t be afraid of communicating it internally. Even better, involve some key people before closing your plan to refine it and in order to have their early feedback. It is important to remember that the planned objectives and outcomes will benefit not only your organization, but also your customers.: it will mean less accidents, more comfort, less emissions and operation costs.
KL 4. Don’t create artificial procedures, make the system work based on your existing ones
The system must provide the tools and methods for the reality of a public transport operator. Grow the methodology over the existent procedures, complement them to achieve the objectives and get the most of the tools and methods. For example, if you have a middle manager team who periodically performs on field duties with vehicles, lines or drivers, you can provide them with a tablet and an application with data-driven actions and recommendations to improve these assets. This way, the whole system has continous enrichment from the different organizational levels. By following this approach, the system will be better accepted and adopted, and you won’t need extra people to manage it.
And these are the two FAQs we hear the most during our discussions with bus operators:
- How can we achieve that the system is being accepted by staff and unions?
- Do we need to hire new people to manage the system?
FAQ 1. How can we achieve that the system is being accepted by staff and unions?
First, remember you don’t need to involve the drivers and middle managers from the very beginning. You can start by assessing your operations performance and designing an action plan accordingly. You can have big measurable impacts even without the drivers’ involvement.
The four key aspects for staff acceptance are:
Have a system your people can trust in: you will only achieve this by having a fair assessment of your operations and driving performance, considering your unique context. Your best driving and efficiency habits are already in your operations, you just need to homogenise them and spread them across your fleet!
Be transparent and communicate your plan and objectives internally: the system is an ally for your drivers and staff because it improves safety and comfort, and it’s good for society!
Train your people in using the tools and the system: take enough time to explain internally how the system works, why it is fair and why it does not penalize your service times. Successful products provide also a first-class training to transfer the key knowledge to your middle managers and drivers.
Recognize the effort and motivate whenever it’s possible: The system is only there to improve the life of everyone across your operations, not to penalize anyone. Gamification tools are a good way to achieve such recognition and motivation among your drivers and middle management staff.
FAQ 2. Do we need to hire new people to manage the system?
Not necessarily, but obviously you need someone responsible who centralizes coordination with the different users and who follows up on the KPIs at the high level. Usually, best products in the market provide a first-class customer support to help you with following-up on the implemented actions. Support personnel will periodically communicate with the internal team responsible for the system.
In conclusion, achieving eco-driving and operations efficiency and safety in public bus transport requires more than just the right technology. As we have learned through our years of experience working with a diverse range of metropolitan bus operators, a comprehensive methodology that includes realistic planning, effective communication, and the integration of existing procedures is crucial for long-term success.
By implementing these key lessons and addressing common questions and concerns, bus operators can drasticallly improve safety and comfort for their passengers, reduce emissions and operation costs, and ultimately improve their overall performance.
We at Bledsystem are committed to providing our expertise and support to help bus operators achieve these goals, and we look forward to continuing our exciting journey in this field.