3 Ways to Hit the Ground Running in 2021
2020 has been a year like no other for the transit agency. As the end of the year approaches, it’s a good time to take stock of where things are and assess how the changes you put into place this year will impact your operations moving forward.
Good data is key to making all of these assessments and decisions. You can’t have frank conversations about what worked, what didn’t, and where to go next unless everyone starts on the same page.
Here are three things you can do this month to hit the ground running in the New Year:
Consumer transit habits changed abruptly this year, as millions of people started working from home. Some people have returned to the office, but others will be working remotely well into 2021 and beyond.
Now that the dust has settled a little and people are well into their new pandemic routines, it’s a great time to review your ridership and make sure your routes are running as efficiently as possible given ridership changes.
One mistake people often make when doing this work is to only look at routes that are performing poorly — completely missing the fact that even the well-performing routes might be able to function better.
To make the most of your data, ask yourself what separates a good performance from a poor one. Is it the driver? The vehicle type? The traffic? Chances are, it’s some combination of all three, but knowing the answer requires centralized data from across your organization.
An enterprise transit management system brings data from across your organization together into one place to give your agency’s leadership a holistic view of what’s working and not working across riders, routes, buses, and more.
End the year with a clear picture of where things are now so you can make changes in January and have a clean slate to track progress moving forward.
One common issue across industries is that people tend to become protective over information related to their jobs. They worry that if they give it up or share it with others, they’ll become invaluable to the company and lose their jobs.
We can’t say this will never happen, but what we see more often in the agencies we work with is that individuals clinging to information creates more work for everyone and makes the organization as a whole less efficient. Now is the perfect time to break out of those cycles and make a plan for starting a knowledge-sharing program.
Encourage members from different departments to spend a day or two job shadowing each other, either before the end of the year or as a way to start the new year in January. If employees grumble about taking time away from their assigned tasks, remind them that this is a valuable professional development opportunity to see how someone else’s work can make theirs better.
You can also recruit change champions from different parts of the organization to help you make this case and even set up a train-the-trainer model if you want to designate a few people in the organization to cross-train their colleagues.
You might have to experiment with a few different models until you find one that works for your organization, but the most important thing is to pick something and try it because the first step is always the most difficult one to take. In the end, the more comfortable people become sharing information about how they do their jobs, the more open they’ll be to centralized data and an enterprise transit management system.
Standard Operating Procedures
Finally, now is a good time to take stock of everything you’ve learned about disaster planning this year and put it to use, making sure you’re ready when — not if — the next disaster strikes.
You probably learned a lot of things on the fly this year. What changes need to become permanent parts of your standard operating procedure?
Maybe more of your staff can work from home than you previously thought possible. Maybe some of the route changes instituted during the pandemic can become permanent. Or perhaps you find that you need to revamp your communication and marketing procedures so riders can more easily understand schedule changes, bus capacity, and other important information.
These are all important issues to reflect on and capture in your standard operating procedures. We all know what it’s like to get caught flat-footed when something unexpected hits you. The more prepared you can be now, the less likely you are to find yourself in that position in the future.
Dream Big, Start Small
Hopefully, these tips are helpful to your agency as we reach the end of the year. When it comes to planning and making data-driven decisions, a little effort goes a long way.
Even if you only do one or two of the things mentioned here, you’ll be setting yourself up for long-term success by creating an efficient operation for everyone.
From our team to yours, have a happy holiday season!