Coast Transit Authority

Gulfport, Mississippi

Their Story

Situated in an active hurricane zone, Coast Transit Authority is a non-profit provider of public transportation serving Jackson, Harrison and Hancock counties in Mississippi. The transit agency serves a diverse community of retirees, military personnel from two military bases, Biloxi (a major casino and tourist destination), Gulfport, commuters, and university students.

After Hurricane Katrina impacted the community in 2005, Coast Transit Authority’s management team was faced with a daunting challenge. The transit agency and its 16 drivers found that many members of the Gulf community, who historically resided along the coast, decided to move further afield to avoid severe weather conditions. This sudden relocation resulted in a greater distance (two miles) between passenger pick-up points.

Because of the move, passenger scheduling and pick-ups became harder to manage, and fuel consumption and costs swelled. Coast Transit Authority had little visibility into route planning and where the vehicles were located at any given time, which resulted in duplicate routes and inefficient service.

Concerned, Coast Transit Authority’s management team, board members, and staff knew that they needed prompt change and began an extensive search for an ITS technology partner to not only automate scheduling and dispatching, but also work with the transit agency through its evolving operational and ridership needs. With a 10% year over year increase in ridership demand, it was important for the agency to stay ahead of changes and influxes.

Like many transit agencies across the United States, the transit agency’s supervisor, dispatchers, and drivers had been using pen and paper, faxes, and two-way radios to create and update passenger manifests and schedule routes and pick-ups. This took 10 hours per week of staff time and resulted in $6,630 of annual administrative costs.

Upholding Social Responsibility

To help alleviate these challenges, Coast Transit Authority turned to Routematch, implementing core scheduling, automating, and dispatching functions and in-vehicle mobile data devices for real-time tracking of vehicles and driver communications.

Coast Transit Authority generated significant efficiencies and cost savings by using Routematch’s passenger and vehicle transportation management technologies. The return on investment gains underscore how Coast Transit Authority’s commitment paired with innovative technologies can bring better service to the community’s one million annual riders and improve operations. Routematch’s technologies have also been applied by Coast Transit Authority for effective emergency preparation and disaster preparedness in Harrison County, Mississippi.

By geo-coding evacuation locations and easily creating evacuation routes and run paths through Routematch’s configurable software with point and clicks, Coast Transit Authority is prepared to quickly shift vehicles already in the field to “immediate evacuation mode.” Locating each vehicle and communicating through mobile data devices also enables faster and more efficient service to their citizens. Each summer, evacuation drills are held surrounding this emergency management and coordination effort.

A Real Game-Changer

The new efficiencies and achieved ROI gains have been a welcome change to Coast Transit Authority: 15% reduction in costs associated with fuel consumption, operations, and staff time; 65% reduction in customer complaints; and savings of $17,000 in yearly administrative cost by moving to a paperless environment. “We can’t say how excited we are when we look at the data,” said Kevin Coggin, Executive Director, Coast Transit Authority. “Routematch’s technologies, approach, and support have brought tremendous value to our transit agency and helped us bring timely service to our riders, especially after Hurricane Katrina. It was a real game-changer. We would have been stranded if we had not decided to embrace technologies when we did.”

Additionally, the agency has also benefited from Routematch in ways that are not easily quantifiable. Routematch’s flexible platform was extended to serve as the technology and coordination foundation for Harrison County Emergency Management Agency, who is utilizing Routematch’s data management tools to input and maintain a preregistration list for disabled citizens or citizens who are at risk who need emergency evacuation during hurricanes or other emergency situations. “Through the effort of Coast Transit Authority working as the lead agency in the Emergency Service Function #1 Transportation of Harrison County, transportation of citizens during any event or incident is handled professionally. Timely and extreme care is given to the needs of those in need,” said Rupert H. Lacy, Director of Harrison County Emergency Management, Homeland Security, and E911 Commission. “Coast Transit Authority has moved people within the county and outside the affected area numerous times and their efforts are recognized nationwide.”

“Routematch’s technology is not only user-friendly and helps us do a better job, but it also serves as a foundation for future regional coordination efforts,” says Kevin Coggin. “We have been most impressed with the software’s flexibility. We can maneuver data in multiple ways, and I can use all the route, schedules, billing and ridership information to plan ahead and fully understand and adjust my routes based on different and sometimes obscure variables. We reviewed many software applications that were larger and more expensive, but they would not give us the flexibility that we needed. We grew with the software, and the software easily stretched with us. Routematch is by far one of the best mid-priced software products on the market.”

Coast Transit Authority is a terrific example of a progressive transit agency that has really thought out-of-the-box and maximized the value of their intelligent transportation systems investment. Coast Transit Authority’s management team’s commitment to technology to run operations and provide emergency management has improved the lives and well-being of multiple communities. Routematch is proud to be Coast Transit Authority’s long-term technology partner and excited about new innovations to come.