Bus operations are complex, and so is scheduling. It is a combination of craft and science, and transportation operators devote considerable energy to getting vehicle and crew scheduling (aka blocking and runcutting) right. They do this to ensure efficient operations, cost savings, on-time performance and regulatory (and labor rule) compliance. Yet, the same amount of energy isn’t always applied to rostering. In fact, 71% of US agencies surveyed by Optibus did not use roster optimization. Historically, the industry has focused on using optimization during the scheduling phase and less so during the rostering phase. Now, as technology advances, it is time to look at rostering, especially since it impacts costs, driver satisfaction and safety. This ebook will explain why and how.
Rostering is the last optimization step. First come route planning and timetables. Then vehicle and crew scheduling (blocking and runcutting) as well as relief vehicle scheduling. Rosters are last.
Rostering is the process of grouping daily operator runs (shifts or duties) into packages of weekly work assignments. These assignments are typically five eight-hour runs or ten four-hour runs. They may include a combination of different runs such as: weekdays only, weekdays and Sunday/Saturday, and other combinations.
Rostering can be done in several methods. They include manual rostering by schedulers; “cafeteria-style rostering” in which drivers build their own rosters by picking which runs and days off they want; and the use of roster optimization algorithms through a planning and scheduling platform.
Of all three methods, only roster optimization uses technology rather than human input to ensure the creation of the most high-quality rosters while reducing overtime costs, adhering to break rules and rest time, and implementing driver preferences (for instance, regarding split shifts or start times).
Three key components factor into creating a viable roster:
Here are some practices that advanced scheduling platforms offer schedulers to help them create better rosters.
It’s time that the technology allowing roster optimization be put into practice. Roster optimization is a win-win for all involved. It saves time for schedulers, freeing them to focus on passenger satisfaction; it offers better conditions for drivers, ensures compliance with regulations and union rules, and saves money.
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