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4 Sustainable Ways to Control Costs using Spare Open Fleets

Maximizing transit capacity with Open Fleets shouldn’t come at the expense of rising costs. Adapt your dispatch rules by considering fleet priorities, wait time thresholds, fare sharing models, and fleet limits when seamlessly integrating third-party fleets into your service today.

Chirayu Shah

Agencies across the nation rely on federal and state funding to grow services and continue to adopt software as a key method of innovation. Open Fleets is a part of Spare’s software infrastructure designed to connect trip demand to any fleet provider, like taxi companies and transportation networking companies (TNCs), on one centralized platform. The rapidly growing introduction of mixed fleets through a ‘plug and play’ model makes it crucial for agencies to customize dispatch rules according to their business objectives.

Spare Open Fleets offers several out-of-the-box cost-saving strategies that can combat rising costs and boost control over the bottom line. By deeply integrating and accessing various operational data points, including trip cost, estimated pickup time, vehicle types, capacity, accessibility features, fare acceptance capability, minimum contractual trip requirements, and more, Spare automatically dispatches trips to the most suitable vehicles based on the criteria set. Based on business logic configured in Spare, Spare Engine will automatically determine which fleet to assign for each individual trip.

Managing the bottom line is ingrained into the Spare platform. Here are 4 in-platform tools that can be leveraged to control costs when using Spare Open Fleets:

1. Control costs by designating fleet priorities

Multiple Fleets with designated priorities can be configured within a Spare service. Collin County Transit, for example, uses Spare Open Fleets to allow riders to book their non-ADA trips up to 7 days in advance.

To efficiently use capacity on their dedicated vehicles, the Spare Engine automatically fills up capacity on dedicated vehicles first, before utilizing Lyft as an overflow and same-day service provider. For their use-case, they leverage Spare’s Fleet Priority feature which helps prioritize the fleet to which they want advanced trips to be scheduled.

2. Control costs by leveraging a wait time threshold

Agencies can configure a rider Wait Time Threshold to articulate the optimal fleet that can be dispatched for a trip. DART GoLink uses Spare Open Fleets to automatically dispatch on-demand trips to Uber while efficiently using their dedicated vehicles. For using Uber as an overflow fleet provider for maintaining an ideal wait time for riders, Uber Trips are only dispatched when the wait time for a dedicated vehicle is over 10 minutes. This wait time can be customized by agency staff and can be used to control the usage of NDSPs. It's essential to keep in mind that there are trade-offs between wait times and costs.

3. Control costs by using a fare sharing model

Another way to control costs through Spare Open Fleets is by using a Fare Sharing Model. Spare’s service with SouthWest Transit in Eden Prairie, Minnesota uses Spare Open Fleets to allow riders to book a Lyft trip in-advance or on-demand to outlying areas where the wait for a dedicated vehicle may be longer. On the back-end, SouthWest transit has configured business rules in Spare Platform that provides a maximum fare subsidy for the trip. When the trip's fare surpasses the maximum subsidy, the rider is responsible for covering the remaining cost through in-app payments in Spare's white-labeled Rider iOS or Android app.

4. Control costs using fleet limits

Transit agencies using Spare Open Fleets can configure a variety of fleet limits based on cost, distance, trip count, and more. For example, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) in Pinellas County, Florida has configured Fleet Limits in Spare to optimize the distribution of trips between Uzurv, their ADA paratransit fleet provider and dedicated service providers. They use a maximum distance limit for trips to decide which fleet should be dispatched for a given trip request.

Conclusion: Grow a flexible and sustainable operation using Open Fleets

The innovative mixed fleet model enabled by Spare Open Fleets offers transit agencies endless opportunities to maximize the rider experience, streamline operations, and do so without losing sight of the bottom line. By customizing dispatch rules with features like Fleet Priority, Wait Time Thresholds, Fare Sharing Models, and Fleet Limits, and learning from other transit agencies who have implemented similar cost-saving strategies, agencies can tailor services to meet specific goals and rider needs.