Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority d.b.a. LYNX & Polk County Transit Services (PCTS) Rural Intelligent Transportation System Demonstration Project
The Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX) and the Polk County Transit System (PCTS) serve the rural community of Poinciana, Florida with fixed-route and paratransit services. They were awarded a grant from the FTA for an operational test in 2002 with the purpose of evaluating the benefits of applying ITS technologies to reduce costs and duplicate trips in the area. The ITS technologies implemented were mobile data terminals (MDT) and automatic vehicle location (AVL) devices on 10 paratransit vehicles for each agency. Additionally, the use of common automated scheduling, reservation and dispatch software by both agencies allowed for interoperability between the two systems.
Data were collected from both LYNX and PCTS for the period prior to the FTA Operational Test. The project was evaluated from April 2007 to January 2008. Additionally, post-project data was collected to test system benefits that were not immediately accrued. Data related to passengers per trip, trip times, trip distances, and trip cost were collected for each of the study periods. Interviews were also conducted with staff at the offices of the two paratransit services, as well as the drivers, during the post-project period to see if there had been changes in workload, efficiency and customer satisfaction as a result of the new changes.
During the project period, the demand for paratransit services increased for both agencies, up over 25 percent for both LYNX and PCTS, with over 12,000 more reserved trips in the post-project period than in the pre-project period. Ninety-five percent of paratransit users surveyed said they used the same amount of service that they had a year ago, with five percent increasing their use of the service. This indicates that much of the growth in the demand for paratransit reserved trips was the result of new customers. Even with the increased number of trips, both agencies were able to maintain an on-time performance level for 90 percent of trips. AVL technology allowed customer relations representatives to give potential riders current vehicle location information and allowed them to check the validity of complaints by using historical data.
During the post-project period, service opportunities for the residents of the Poinciana, Florida area increased as LYNX added four additional paratransit vehicles, due to increased ridership. During the project period, LYNX also implemented a flex-route service, the Pick Up Line, that serves as a feeder service to the Route 26 fixed-route service. The Pick Up Line saw ridership continue to increase in the post-project period. Overall, the project area saw an increase in transit use per capita by nearly 2 to 8.5 percent. Mixed results were seen in the area of cost reduction with the larger LYNX system seeing cost reductions. However, PCTS saw cost increases, both at the per passenger and per vehicle hour levels.