Technology for Taxi dispatch
- Note: From this point on the comments on this very fine thread will be posted in the New Mobility Café.
-----Original Message----- On Behalf Of etts@...
Sent: Saturday, June 12, 2004 6:45 AM
I had mentioned that for demand responsive minibuses "the cost should be much lower than taxi, and the service much better than regular bus". Of course congestion will delay any operations, but part of the skill is to make realistic commitments to the customer. Also, SMS can be used to notify the customer of delay (somewhat negative use), or to advise them say 10 minutes before arrival (more positive use) so that waiting time is minimised. The US paratransit experience may not be so relevant to Mumbai if the pick-up/drop-off points are far apart. In a dense city like Mumbai, I expect that a dispatcher (manual or auto) would cluster the pick-ups and/or drop-offs so that they are close to each other with minimum deviation.
Within the FAMS project, (see www.famsweb.com ) a key aspect we examined was the concept of a "Mobility Agency" for flexible transport. This can be actual or virtual, but effectively acts as a concentrator of both travel requests and available transport services. The business and technical platform offers a set of business-to-customer (B2C) services covering the many different channels through which the customer can seek information, register demand, make booking, receive confirmation etc. On the other side it has a set of business-to-business (B2B) services which interfaces with the different providers of the transport services. Within FAMS we developed much of the applicable system architecture and structural issues.
This overcomes much of the inertia or the barriers faced by the individual operators whose scale is too small to justify investment, develop markets, find the customers etc. The big challenge in DRT has always been how to find out about the diffuse customer demand (which does exist) in time to offer the customer solutions which meet his/her needs and is affordable to both the customer and the operator.
There are issues about the individual owner-driver or the small operator participating in a scheme run by either a large entity or a commercial VASP. Here you can take one of two basic attitudes. The first is big == bad, and that the small guy is always going to lose out. So, nothing happens. The second is that big is the only way to achieve the critical mass, and that being part of it helps you develop your business. There are various mechanisms which can be used to ensure reasonable allocation of work. Incidentally, unfair allocation inevitably means that you are missing either cost-reduction or service quality opportunities.
As I indicated in one of the previous mails, I think that in the European research effort we have developed a lot of the needed solutions. While there may yet be potential for large-scale flexible transport in European cities as an alternative to car travel, the huge potential is in Asian cities where the transport services already exist, and the take-up of mobile phones provides the B2C plaftorm, and can indeed also be used for dispatching purposes since almost all drivers have them.
I think that this is one of the valid areas where technology-based solutions can be integrated with relatively-basic transport. The technology is primarily the software at the dispatching centre, and hence it is not necessary to put expensive equipment in every vehicle. It could be very interesting to see what India's IT sector could do in a JV with European or American firms who have developed the approaches until now.
With best wishes,
From: Eric Bruun ericbruun@...
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2004 12:40:54 -0400
Subject: [sustran] Re: Technology for Taxi dispatch
I work with Computer Aided Dispatching (CAD) technology in the US of A. Even here, paratransit vehicles often have trouble making appointments on time due to unforeseen traffic. I imagine that, if Mumbai is as congested as it sounds, it would be extremely hard to efficiently schedule single-ride taxis. This is even more so for shared-ride taxis.
Furthermore, to justify the investment in CAD, there must be multiple users. Thus, small owners would have to belong to a cooperative and trust that there is no favoratism being shown to other owners.