Friday, May 21, 1999

Efficiency goal with Access bus computer

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Getting around town on Access is expected to get a little more efficient for the bus system's 6,000 riders with disabilities.

        On Thursday, Access started using a computer to schedule the 1,200 rides it provides daily.

        Until now, the scheduling has been done by hand.

        “There should be less human error,” Metro spokeswoman Sallie Hilvers said. “Trips should seem a little shorter because they are more efficient.”

        Scheduling is complicated, and it's unlikely for an Access bus to ever take the same route twice.

        The reservation-based service takes riders to and from specific addresses. For example, the bus may take someone to work and back, or to and from a doctor's appointment.

        Some trips may take a rider across Hamilton County, with other riders picked up or dropped off in between; other trips may be only a few miles.

        Access has met the challenges of hand-scheduling 1,200 requests a day, meeting its 95 percent on-time goal of picking riders up in the half-hour window they're given. But the computer should consistently find the fastest way to get people to and from their destinations.

        One change Access riders will notice: When Access gives them a half-hour interval of when the bus will arrive, the times will be scheduled on the fives of the hour. Before, Access told riders they would be picked up starting on the hour or half-hour.

        That's appealing to Howard Imel of White Oak. He's been using Access nearly a decade, including taking it to and from his job at the downtown offices of Kroger. He likes the option of more pickup times.


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