Oxfordshire County Council – Fleet Modelling and Route Optimisation

Oxfordshire County Council have used Truckstops Loads to strategically review their fleet of mini-buses to identify savings whilst maintaining vital services.

The Challenge

  • Establishing route optimisation for multi-drop and collection points
  • Delivering efficient passenger flow management

 

Cityscape of Oxford. England, Europe

Cityscape of Oxford. England, Europe

Recent increasing pressure on local government budgets has led the Council to carry out a project to comprehensively review their vehicle operation. The outcome of this was to identify areas where savings could be made but service levels retained or improved.

The project started with Oxfordshire County Council deciding on a number of initial areas to explore, and setting about strategically analysing their fleet.

The Council operates a fleet of 80 vehicles based at seven depots across Oxfordshire. The vehicles carry out a wide variety of public services including home to school transport, travel to and from day centres, demand responsive Dial-A-Ride services, and some public bus routes in rural areas.

These types of jobs typically consist of the collection of a passenger from their home or pick-up point, followed by a drop-off at their destination (and subsequent return journey later in the day). The passenger movements can often be complex and are something that Truckstops Loads is specially designed to optimise.

Recent increasing pressure on local government budgets has led the Council to carry out a project to comprehensively review their vehicle operation. The outcome of this was to identify areas where savings could be made but service levels retained or improved.

The project started with Oxfordshire County Council deciding on a number of initial areas to explore, and setting about strategically analysing their fleet.

The Solution

Using Truckstops Loads, the first step was to baseline what the fleet currently does. This gave an accurate picture of the total daily operating costs, along with useful statistics such as the total kilometres driven and hours worked.

Each depot is traditionally responsible for their own vehicles. Taking a step back from depot-level and evaluating the operation as a whole gave a new perspective and sparked discussion. A number of ideas for how things could be improved were put forward to be examined.

Using the current snapshot as the baseline, the Council went on to model many of these ideas to gain a deeper understanding of the impact that strategic changes would have on their network. These changes were assessed in financial terms, indicating the savings that could be achieved.

Possible changes explored included testing the impact of the modification of shift patterns, job collection and drop-off times, vehicle sizes, and even understanding the effect that merging depots would have on the overall cost of the operation.

Using the versatile in-built features of the system, Oxfordshire County Council were able to account for special rules unique to their operation. These included enforcing a time limit that passengers are allowed to be on the vehicle, taking account of additional time requirements of some passengers, ensuring that different passenger types were not on a mini-bus at the same time (such as school children and adults), and assigning drivers to passengers in special cases where this was needed (such as where drivers have special training).

The Benefits

Using Truckstops Loads to compare potential scenarios to the baseline, Oxfordshire County Council were able to better understand the benefits that future strategic decisions would bring, and weigh them up against one another. They were also able to easily rule out any decision which would have a negative impact on cost.

This level of strategic analysis will enable data-driven decisions with defined benefits in areas that previously had elements of uncertainty. Understanding the outcome of a decision increases confidence in making changes from the baseline and allows for accelerated savings, without compromising statutory services.