Gloucestershire County Council is using ACT Analytics to increase the cost-efficiency of its concessionary public transport scheme, while maintaining the highest quality of services for local people.
With new insight from the system, the Council has stopped automatically renewing concessionary passes that haven’t been used in the last 12 months, delivering potential cost savings of £54,000 over five years. In addition, ACT Analytics is helping to map demand for concessionary travel services locally, informing future investment and planning decisions. The technology also helps the Council reduce fraudulent card use, support the police with missing persons enquiries, and ensure that ‘companion passes’ are meeting the needs of vulnerable people using the public transport network.
With local authority budgets under pressure, many councils are looking to increase the efficiency of their concessionary travel schemes, while maintaining excellent service levels for the people who depend on them. These are key goals for Gloucestershire County Council, which has been investing in smart technologies to boost the efficiency of its concessionary travel scheme since 2011.
Specifically, Gloucestershire County Council uses concessionary travel and smart-ticketing technologies from ACT to maximise efficiency and customer value. These include ACT HOPS, which collects and stores transactional data about every customer journey made with a smart card; and ACT CMS, which makes it fast and simple to manage customer accounts and to issue smart cards.
Gloucestershire County Council also purchased ACT’s concessionary portal where people can apply for, renew and order replacement bus passes. Nicola Mifflin, Lead Officer for Smart Cards at Gloucestershire County Council, says, “Thanks to the ACT platform and web portal, we can issue nearly 10,000 passes a year in a way that is extremely efficient for the Council, and very convenient for our customers as well.”
In the latest phase of its partnership with ACT, Gloucestershire County Council deployed ACT Analytics. This provides far more insight into the concessionary travel scheme than was previously available by slicing and dicing data from the HOPS and CMS and displaying the results on an intuitive dashboard. Alan Bently, Integrated Transport Manager at Gloucestershire County Council, says, “With ACT Analytics, we can see how many journeys have been made on specific routes, or at particular times of day, which helps us understand demand for bus services on a granular level.
We can also identify cost-saving opportunities and plan more effectively for new developments such as housing estates, hospitals and schools based on data from similar developments elsewhere.” “We can be sure that ACT Analytics will more than pay for itself in the long run by both informing our future investment decisions and by providing significant and ongoing administrative cost savings for the Council.”
Using ACT Analytics, Gloucestershire County Council has significantly reduced administrative costs related to bus pass renewals, freeing up funds for core passenger-facing services. “By querying our data with ACT Analytics, we saw that around 35% of concessionary bus passes hadn’t been used in the last 12 months,” says Nicola. “We made the decision not to renew these passes automatically, which will save us £54,000 over five years.”
The Council also plans to issue multi-year bus passes for local schoolchildren, which can be cancelled automatically if the child leaves the school. “By removing the need to issue bus passes to schoolchildren each year, we will be able to further reduce our administration costs,” says Nicola.
ACT Analytics is helping Gloucestershire County Council to secure appropriate infrastructure and service contributions (Section 106 money) from developers. In one case, the Council secured a contribution of £18,000 from the developer of a new care home for adults with learning difficulties.
Part of the evidence for the negotiation came from ACT Analytics, which projected the likely increase in demand for local bus services based on a similar development elsewhere. “With ACT Analytics, we can more accurately predict the impact of new developments on demand for local transport services,” says Alan. “As a result, we can secure appropriate contributions from developers to fund new transport services and infrastructure locally, ensuring that services continue to meet growing demand on key routes.”
With ACT Analytics, Gloucestershire County Council can ensure that the most vulnerable members of the community continue to be well served by the transport network. In particular, the Council is analysing the use of ‘with companion’ bus passes, which are issued to people who are unable to travel alone. “We can now see how ‘with companion’ bus passes are being used, and whether they are achieving their goal of helping vulnerable people access the health and care services they need,” says Nicola. “We can also see how elderly people are using their passes to stay active for longer, and adjust services to improve the passenger experience.”
ACT Analytics enables Gloucestershire County Council to identify fraudulent use of concessionary bus passes. “Every journey on the network has a cost implication for the Council, so stamping out fraud is a very good way to save money,” says Nicola. “With ACT Analytics, we can quickly see any suspicious activity, such as cards being used too frequently, or cards used on routes far away from the legitimate card holders’ postcode – and we can then take action to ensure the fraud doesn’t persist,” she adds.
With ACT Analytics, Gloucestershire County Council can also assist the police with enquiries about criminal activity or missing persons. “If a crime is committed by someone carrying a concessionary bus pass, ACT Analytics can provide evidence about where they were on a certain day, or at a certain time,” says Nicola. “We can also help the police to track missing persons based on their most recent bus journey, or we can help get people home if they are lost or suffering from memory problems.”
ACT ANALYTICS AT A GLANCE
MAXIMISING COST SAVINGS ACROSS THE NETWORK
By reducing the cost of managing the concessionary scheme, ACT Analytics is delivering significant cost savings for Gloucestershire County Council. “Based on our experience so far, we can be sure that ACT Analytics will more than pay for itself in the long run by both informing our future investment decisions and by providing significant and ongoing administrative cost savings for the Council,” says Alan. “ACT Analytics has already proved to be a good investment and we would be happy to recommend it to any local authority that is looking to increase the efficiency of its concessionary public transport operations.”
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