Trapeze Group Software Consultant Pete Adney looks at how the supplier worked with London operator Metroline to keep drivers engaged with its digital platform
While 2020 will likely always be remembered for the unprecedented challenges that so many of us faced, it is worth taking a moment to recall some of the positives that have emerged.
For the nation’s bus operators, it was a time of intense difficulty, with vast fluctuations in demand, radical changes to service requirements, and of course hugely reduced revenues. But there have also been some inspirational responses to such monumental challenges, with operators transforming processes to continue to provide essential mobility while doing everything possible to keep drivers and depot staff safe.
One admirable example can be seen in the work carried out by Metroline, where the team reviewed and then rapidly implemented new technology to reduce depot footfall to enable staff to work in a safe and socially distanced manner.
At the same time, some innovative thinking also unearthed an opportunity to integrate two complementary tools in a way which would dramatically improve the working experience for all drivers – thereby ensuring some positive outcomes as we move towards a post-COVID-19 future.
Implementing social distancing in response to COVID-19
Bus depots are, of course, famously busy and hectic hubs, with groups of drivers often stopping to chat, or sitting down for a tea or a coffee. That was one of many things that had to rapidly change when COVID-19 hit.
Recognising the need to continue to deliver services but in a socially distanced manner, Metroline contacted Trapeze, the supplier of its Duty Allocation and Driver Payment System (DAS) with a view to implementing OnBoard, which is a driver self-service application.
Metroline saw that OnBoard would enable drivers to manage their duties and holiday requests remotely via a smartphone or tablet. That would instantly remove most requirements for drivers to physically enter a depot.
By working closely with Trapeze, Metroline was able to implement OnBoard quickly, safely and in a fully socially distanced manner.
Despite all that was going on at the time, the new system was up and running within a week. It made a huge difference to Metroline’s ability to continue delivering services.
Boosting driver engagement through Trapeze digital platform
Meanwhile, Metroline identified a second possible technology benefit. The operator has invested in Blink, an application designed to be a one-stop app for drivers to access all digital workplace information while boosting engagement and real time visibility over the workforce.
It soon became apparent that Metroline could improve the working experience for drivers if Trapeze and Blink were brought together. The resulting integration saw the OnBoard driver self-service system embedded within the Blink app, ensuring that drivers can access all employment-related functions from one place.
Because OnBoard is such an integral tool for drivers, it has had the effect of increasing engagement with Blink. As drivers have been more exposed to Blink, they have been more willing to take advantage of the benefits it brings – resulting in drivers opening it five times more often as before.
Drivers can now access their entire digital workplace information in one system, enabling them to accommodate their own working needs and take up any concerns with their manager through the two-way messaging function.
In short, Metroline’s vision in bringing these tools together has provided drivers with full control over their work/life balance, which it is hoped will reap future rewards in relation to employee engagement and retention.
A better tomorrow after a difficult 14 months
Bus operators all over the world have been through a hugely difficult period. But while the future remains uncertain and there are doubtless challenges in wait, examples like that of Metroline provide inspiration and point to better days ahead.
Technology solutions that keep drivers and depot staff safe are vital – but so too is driver engagement. As this example shows, by combining the right technology it is possible to address both at the same time – producing positive outcomes today and into the future.