UK developer QRoutes has released the latest version of its Transport Planning tool, which is available online as easy-to-use software, and is designed to simplify and improve the planning of school and special needs transport for local authorities.
Local authority transport services, especially in areas such as special needs education and mobility for the elderly or those with disabilities, are very complex and difficult to plan. Many councils still manually plan, but it takes a lot of time to route significant numbers of people, which means trips are not reviewed frequently. With ever changing transport needs, routes soon become inefficient, adding unnecessary mileage, time and fuel costs.
Although planning systems do exist, they have previously been too costly for most authorities with limited budgets. QRoutes promises to offer an affordable solution with software that optimizes routes and maximizes vehicle usage, reducing operational costs.
QRoutes is an output of the European Union-funded ‘Send-To’ project for research, technological development and demonstration through the frontierCities accelerator program. QRoutes automates route planning, enabling authorities to repeat the exercise as often as necessary, creating visual map-based results in minutes. The tool enables planners to explore ‘what-if’ scenarios to find new improved routes, and it also interfaces with existing data sets, making it easy to implement. The planner can configure the system to take into account a wide range of variables affecting each route plan, including board and alight times for different passenger types, and road type speed settings, which can be calibrated from actual journey times.
Offered as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) subscription, the planner configures the tool according to vehicle type, cost, time and distance travelled, CO? emissions, and other variables. New features include the ability to prioritize which vehicles are included in the routing, allowing the selection of in-house fleets over external contracts, and visibility of height restrictions that might affect vehicle access.
“In developing QRoutes, we knew it was essential to produce a solution that was relatively inexpensive, could be implemented quickly and produced almost immediate results. For these purposes, it needed to be cloud-based, so that people could just turn to it and use it,” said Jeff Duffell, business development director at QRoutes.
“It has the speed and economic viability to re-optimize the system very quickly, and this can be repeated over time. It also allows planning to take place at a particular time of the year when requirements are known, rather than undertaking the process over a period of months.”