[tabi] FW: Dial A Ride Update

  • From: "Chip and Allie Orange" <acorange@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 15 Oct 2014 18:02:57 -0400



From: Sally Benjamin [mailto:salbenjamin@xxxxxxxxxxx] 
Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 8:39 AM
To: Sally Benjamin
Subject: FW: Dial A Ride Update 



From: Maldonado, Ivan [ <mailto:Ivan.Maldonado@xxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Thursday, August 14, 2014 9:43 AM
To: Stokley, Wanda
Cc: Fernandez, Rick; Elyea, Janice; Downing, Delores; Rosser, Andrea
Subject: Dial A Ride Update 


Dear Mrs. Stokley,


Assistant City Manager Rick Fernandez has asked me to forward you the
following email:


In the enclosed, we would like to provide you and the members of the
Tallahassee Council of the Blind an update regarding technological and
operational improvements implemented to better serve Dial-A-Ride users, as
well as answers to the questions presented during our previous meeting.  In
a second email, we will forward you the Question and Answer Fact Sheet that
some of you requested.   


Dial-A-Ride Increase in Demand


Dial-A-Ride has experienced a continuous increase in demand since 2007.  One
factor driving the demand for Dial-A-Ride services is the continuous growth
in the senior population.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Florida has
the largest population of senior citizens in the nation with 27.1 percent of
our population projected to be 65+ in 2030, compared to 19.7 percent for the
rest of the nation.  According to researchers, Florida faces a crisis in
meeting the demand for transportation for seniors over the next 20 years as
the population ages 65 and older is forecasted to grow by 126 percent.
Increasing Dial-A-Ride demand is also driven by the level of service that
StarMetro provides.  Unlike most transit systems which only provide
complimentary Para-transit transportation to disabled persons within ¾ of a
mile of any fixed route, the City of Tallahassee provides Para-transit
service to elderly and disabled citizens in the entire city and ¾ mile from
a fixed route. 


To address this increase in demand, StarMetro has added three runs that are
operated by our transportation vendor, Big Bend Transit, the last of which
was added on June 9, 2014. StarMetro has purchased three additional
Dial-A-Ride vehicles which run on Compressed Natural Gas which is less
expensive than gasoline and cleaner for the environment.  We anticipate
having these vehicles added to our fleet by the end of July.


On April 5, 2014, StarMetro rerouted the Moss Route to C. K. Steele Plaza.
This route serves two communities that have large Dial-A-Ride demands.  We
anticipate this change should encourage some of the Dial-A-Ride riders of
these two communities to transition to fixed route service.


Checking on the Status of Your Ride

Dial-A-Ride users may call dispatch to check on the status of their ride
prior to or anytime during their pick up and drop off windows. 


Pick Up Windows

Since Dial-A-Ride transportation is provided throughout the City of
Tallahassee, exceeding the required Americans with Disabilities Act coverage
area, customers should be ready for pick up one hour prior to their
requested drop off time. When a customer makes a reservation, staff will
provide the customer an anticipated 30 minute pick-up window.  In the event
of an unanticipated delay, staff will notify the affected customers and
attempt to dispatch other vehicles in the area in order to minimize any
further delay.


Assistance to Using Existing Fixed Routes

The Mobility Coordinator office was created to assist citizens with
information about transportation services in Tallahassee and Leon County.  A
travel trainer is available to show customers how to safely use the fixed
route system and to assist customers in planning their trips.


Michelle Tipton is our Travel Trainer and she may be contacted by phone at
850-891-4066, or by email at  <mailto:michelle.tipton@xxxxxxxxxx>


Dial-A-Ride Service Coverage and Hours of Service

Dial-A-Ride transportation is provided city wide Monday-Friday between the
hours of 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., to citizens with a qualifying disability.
Evenings and weekends, Dial-A-Ride service is available with ¾ mile from
StarMetro’s fixed route coverage area.


New Technologies to Improve Dial-A-Ride Services

To improve transportation services, StarMetro has installed Mobile Data
Terminals (MDTs) with GPS Mapping in Dial-A-Ride vehicles.  MDTs provide
real-time computer communication with vehicles allowing scheduling changes
or additions to be sent directly to vehicles.  The GPS technology will allow
drivers to get to their destinations much faster.  MDTs allow for dispatch
to know the precise location of all drivers and to move passengers onto
other vehicles in the event drivers may be running behind.  Prior to the
implementation of MDTs, drivers had to manually input the time and odometer
mileages reflected at the time when customers were picked up and delivered
which caused further delays.  Dispatch monitors all issues with scheduling
and can move trips around as needed.  This was not possible prior to the
implementation of MDTs.  If drivers have any concerns about their schedules,
they are required to contact dispatch or their supervisor so that changes
can be made to the trip manifest.


As with any new technology, testing and monitoring performance is critical
to its success.  This usually takes some time to ensure that any issues are
well documented and properly handled.  As we gather feedback on the
performance of this technology, StarMetro has reinstituted the use of a
paper trip manifest to ensure customers are not inconvenienced during the
testing phase. 


StarMetro has also begun the implementation of an Interactive Voice Response
(IVR) system, by which customers will receive telephone, email or text
reminders with information pertaining to their trips.  This system will
remind customers the day before of a pending trip as well as an imminent
arrival notice when the vehicle is 20 minutes away.  This technology is
currently being tested and it is anticipated to be fully operational this


StarMetro has implemented Call Center Recording technology and this system
is currently being tested.  Incoming and outgoing communication between
citizens and call center and dispatch staff will be recorded to ensure
citizens receive the best customer service possible.


Soon thereafter, StarMetro will be implementing an on-line scheduling
feature enabling Dial-A-Ride customers to schedule, make changes or cancel
trips online (the same time windows will apply).  Another feature will allow
citizens to leave comments or concerns on-line without the need to speak to
a live person.  The later technology would assist with the tracking and
handling of comments or concerns, as well as provide prompt customer
feedback.  All of these technologies should be fully operational this


StarMetro Updates Sent to TABI Email List 

StarMetro’s Director, Special Transportation Coordinator, and the Planning
Administrator have subscribed to the TABI Email List serve in order to
receive and provide StarMetro updates.


Detour Notification

To ensure that visually impaired citizens using fixed route transportation
are not adversely affected by detours, StarMetro planning staff has been
emailing route or detour changes to the Lighthouse of the Big Bend and the
Tallahassee Area Blind Issues (TABI) listserv.  This information is also
updated on the StarMetro page of the City’s webpage.   


Dial-A-Ride Tokens

As per recommendations of members from the Council of the Blind who stated
that some citizens were having difficulty removing recycled tokens from the
2” x 3 ½” inch envelopes, StarMetro has ordered new full token cards and
will begin the sale of these within the next few weeks. 


Trip Planner Software Issues

During the TCB meeting, it was reported that the online Trip Planner
platform does not allow users to change the date of travel without using a
mouse.  StarMetro, as well as the vendor, is currently looking into this
issue and corrections will be made as soon as possible. 


On Time or Next Ride is Free

StarMetro is currently analyzing the operation of Dial-A-Ride services to
ensure that citizens are transported on time to their destinations.
Nevertheless, since unexpected circumstances such as vehicle break downs,
accidents or unanticipated congestions could delay our services, customers
are encouraged to request to be dropped off to their destinations at least
15 minutes early. 


To compensate customers who are delivered late to their appointments,
StarMetro is in the process of instituting a policy in which customers will
ride for free during their following trip.


Dial-A-Ride Staff Contact Information

To schedule a Dial-A-Ride trip, please call our call center number at


On the day of the trip to find out the status of your ride, please call our
dispatch office at 850-891-5200 option 2. 


Yolanda Moore is the Dial-A-Ride Transportation Supervisor.  She may be
contacted by phone at 850-891-5200 or by email at
<mailto:yolanda.moore@xxxxxxxxxx> yolanda.moore@xxxxxxxxxx. 


Andrea Rosser is the Manager who oversees Dial-A-Ride operations.  She may
be contacted by phone at 850-891-5044 or by email at
<mailto:andrea.rosser@xxxxxxxxxx> andrea.rosser@xxxxxxxxxx. 


Online Schedules on Accessible Tables  

StarMetro has successfully changed all routes graphics to accessible tables.


Schedules on Google Maps

StarMetro’s routes are available online at Microsoft’s Bing Maps. These may
be accessed at  <http://www.bing.com/maps> www.bing.com/maps.  Staff is
working with its trip planner technology vendor to make StarMetro’s route
information accessible on Google Transit Maps.  We are working with Trapeze
(our technology vendor) to make our trip planner more accessible to screen
reader devices. 


Turn-by-Turn Route Information 

Up to date Turn-by-Turn documentation along with Braille Ride Guides are
available upon request. 


Bus Stop Announcements

The cost of implementing this technology is between $300,000 and $400,000.
StarMetro has applied for grants and will continue to seek grants to
implement this technology. 

All fixed route drivers are required to announce stops along their routes as
an ADA requirement. 


Braille Plates at Bus Stops  

Braille plates have been installed at all transfer locations and routes
frequently used by visually impaired riders.  Plates are being installed
every week and the remaining braille plates will be installed by August 30. 


Thanks you, and thanks to all the members of the Tallahassee Council of the
Blind for their support of StarMetro and for working with us to identify
ways to improve our services. 


Please feel free to contact me anytime. 


Ivan Maldonado MBA-HCM

Director Transit/ GM


555 Apleyard Drive

Tallahassee, FL 32304

Phone: 850-891-5044

Fax: 850-891-5385

 <mailto:ivan.maldonado@xxxxxxxxxx> ivan.maldonado@xxxxxxxxxx


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