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Summary Controlling System Costs: Basic and Advanced Scheduling Manuals and Contemporary Issues in Transit Scheduling Summary for Transit Managers, Executives, and Policy Makers As a transit manager, executive, or policy maker you probably quantitative bent who would rather solve interesting math- already know that schedule making is a vital function for your ematical problems than make small talk. It is well worth agency. Without accurate schedules, your agency would be unable seeking their opinions on ways to control costs because of to provide a reliable quality service to your riding public. Beyond their detailed knowledge of critical factors. the need for accurate schedules, your schedulers are vital to virtu- Schedulers' knowledge is especially useful at the bargaining ally every aspect of your agency, from finance to labor relations, table. Your schedulers have the most detailed understand- and from planning to operations management. This summary ing of anyone in your agency regarding the impacts of any distills five key reasons why scheduling is vitally important. current or proposed element of the collective bargaining agreement on cost and efficiency. Schedulers have too 1. Cost. A good scheduler can reduce costs, with minimal many stories of instances where the labor negotiating team impact on service levels or quality, in any economic environ- agreed to a seemingly innocuous request for a change in ment. In times of expansion, schedulers can ensure that the labor contract that ended up costing millions of dollars. new service is being provided in the most cost-efficient Most of you already know this, but it is well worth repeat- matter. In times of belt-tightening, schedulers can identify ing: always ask your schedulers to run the numbers first. opportunities to reduce costs while minimizing the impact on customers. 3. Customer Service. Senior management at one of the case study agencies noted that if you want to pay attention How can schedulers do this? At the macro level, cost is a to customer service, then you have to pay attention to linear function of revenue hours of service, but at the de- scheduling. To customers, a schedule provides the essential tailed route level, cost is a step function that increases to information needed to plan a trip, defines the arrival and the next step or decreases to the previous step only when a departure times and the time the trip will take, makes suffi- bus must be added to or can be removed from the schedule. cient capacity of service available so that the customers' trip Schedulers work at this detailed level and thus have devel- will be comfortable, and ensures that customers will arrive oped innovative means to minimize costs along with a clear at their destination at the promised time. The schedulers' understanding of the critical factors that affect costs. work has a direct and significant impact on the quality of 2. Contracts and Labor Relations. This understanding of transit service. the critical factors that affect costs is invaluable to a transit 4. Work Environment. The scheduling department defines agency general manager, but is not always communicated the workday for your operators. Your operators, in turn, are clearly. The stereotype of schedulers is similar to that of the front line in terms of dealing with customers, and these accountants: wear green eyeshades (perhaps today this is interactions can be affected by elements of the schedule. replaced by "always at the computer screen"), analyze lots Good schedules can reduce the stress inherent in this job, of data, not very sociable. Like all stereotypes, this is not thus improving morale and minimizing absenteeism. universally true, but scheduling does attract people with a S-3
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Summary 5. Computerized Scheduling. At this point, you may be Each of these chapters has basic, intermediate, and advanced sec- thinking, "I approved a huge purchase for a computerized tions. The advanced sections include discussions of contemporary, scheduling software package a few years ago--doesn't that cutting-edge issues in scheduling. Virtually all of these issues affect address all of my scheduling issues?" This is one of the more your bottom line, either directly or indirectly. While written for the common mistakes we see--the assumption that a comput- experienced scheduler, these discussions should be of interest to erized scheduling package is the solution, and not the tool. senior managers. A brief summary of the concepts and techniques The truth is in fact the reverse. There is no substitute for included in each chapter is provided below the seasoned knowledge of a scheduling professional. As a colleague once put it: "You give a person MS Word and don't Chapter Introduction explains the purpose of the scheduling expect them to write the great American novel--so don't manual and discusses why scheduling is important. give them a computerized scheduling package and expect that they can produce high quality schedules!" Chapter Inputs to the Scheduling Process provides an over- view of the scheduling process and describes external factors that Computerized scheduling provides many benefits: it frees affect a scheduler's work. Critical inputs include: the scheduler from many mundane and time-consuming tasks, its accuracy is unquestioned, and its speed permits · Union contracts more "what-if" testing of alternatives. However, scheduling · Route design cannot be reduced to learning another computer program. · Service standards An experienced scheduler with a thorough knowledge of the This chapter also discusses the organization of the scheduling craft knows how to tweak the program parameters and will department, required data, and data sources. explore different options on the way to designing the most efficient schedule. Chapters through address the four functional areas of schedul- While this manual is primarily geared for the scheduling profession- ing. Chapter Schedule Building focuses on the process of pre- al, you may want to browse through it as well, or recommend it to paring schedules. The basic level takes the prospective scheduler others who are not directly assigned scheduling duties. The goal of through all the steps involved in constructing a simple schedule, this manual is to provide the reader with the skills necessary to be including span of service, headway, roundtrip cycle time, layover/ a professional scheduler, lacking only the years of practice needed recovery time, and the schedule pattern. These are the building to develop and apply the seasoning. Even those with no intention blocks of any schedule, no matter how complex. The intermediate of becoming a scheduler can gain a greater understanding of what level shows how to adjust the basic schedule to accommodate dif- the scheduling process entails and how it can affect your agency's ferent peak and off-peak headways and how to smooth the transi- bottom line. tion between time periods. The intermediate level also presents a more complex schedule for a two-branch route with different Chapter provides a brief introduction to the manual. Chapter headways and running times throughout the day and demonstrates discusses inputs to the scheduling process. Subsequent chapters how to analyze data to determine whether service needs to be address the individual elements of scheduling, including schedule changed to meet demand and whether running times need to be building, blocking, runcutting and rostering. adjusted. The advanced level works through actual headway and running time changes to an existing schedule. Advanced topics include: S-4
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Summary · Establishing running times · Joint consideration of trips, blocks, and runs (emphasizing · Intertiming with even and uneven headways the interaction among all scheduling elements) · Joint consideration of running and layover times · Multipiece runs · Running time myths · Meal breaks · Relief types Chapter Schedule Blocking addresses the process of assigning · Overtime optimization trips to specific vehicles. The basic level discusses the importance · Use of part-time operators and / work schedules of blocking within the scheduling process and blocks the simple · Runcutting and computerized scheduling software packages schedule developed in Chapter . Specific topics include layover time, layover location, interlining/through routing, calculation of Chapter Rostering describes the process of grouping daily op- vehicle statistics, and graphing the blocks. The intermediate level erator runs into packages of weekly work assignments. The basic blocks the more complex schedules from Chapter and provides level defines and discusses differences between agency-developed basic rules for blocking complex routes. The intermediate level and cafeteria-style rostering, develops examples of both types and also discusses how to evaluate a blocking solution and presents presents means of evaluating different rostering solutions. The examples of reblocking the initial solution to be more efficient. The intermediate level develops more complex rosters based on the advanced level blocks the revised schedule from Chapter . Ad- schedules, blocks, and runcuts from previous chapters; discusses vanced topics include: issues such as days off, impact of part-time operators, and five- · Applying garages to each block day vs. four-day ( / ) rostering; and highlights factors related · Midday storage lots to rostering efficiency. The advanced level includes the following · Interlining on a garage or system basis advanced topics: · Route assignments by garage · Revisiting run types · Rotary rostering Chapter Runcutting presents the process of converting vehicle · Rostering with spreadsheets and computerized software blocks into work assignments for operators. The basic level dis- packages cusses runcutting objectives, types of runs, runcutting inputs and · Extraboard considerations outputs, the need to understand rules, constraints and practices, penalties and costs, operator reliefs, and means of evaluating a · Holidays runcut. The basic level also presents an example of a runcut based on the simple schedule and blocking from previous chapters. The The scheduling manual is oriented toward bus scheduling, but intermediate section presents a more complex runcut, and address- Chapter Rail Scheduling addresses the process of light rail and es the iterative nature of runcutting in recutting pieces of work (briefly) heavy rail scheduling. Additional factors to consider in rail and revisiting the blocking solutions. The advanced level considers scheduling include yard balancing, adding/cutting cars, scheduling more intricate runcutting challenges, such as more complex work yard staff, and the impacts of terminal design on scheduling rules, additional relief types and locations, and runcutting multiple efficiency. routes and/or garages. Advanced topics include: S-5
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Summary The Glossary includes a glossary of scheduling terms. Scheduling "language" has a wide variety of dialects. The manual includes a running glossary in the margins, but a grouping of common terms and variants in a glossary should prove beneficial for the transit industry. Scheduling is not merely a production activity. One premise of this manual is that scheduling is the brain of the transit organism in its day-to-day function. By its nature, scheduling provides the clearest understanding of how and where cost efficiencies can be achieved in daily operations and of the impacts of specific provisions of the collective bargaining agreement on efficiency. It also clearly affects the service that operates on the street. In summary, scheduling significantly affects service quality and sig- nificantly controls operating costs--probably the two key elements of a transit system. A savvy general manager makes full utilization of the scheduling department's knowledge in these areas, particu- larly during contract negotiations and in times of budget constraints. S-6