Mass_Transit_June_2021 - 42

Taking a scheduler's brain off autopilot
Scheduling teams should understand what drives
an agency's programs and their results.
is a formidable task more challenging than
finding someone who exhibits the necessary
Ed Dornheim
Transit Schedule Maker/
qualities required for becoming a scheduler and
that is finding a person who is ready to do the
hard work. Someone willing to put in the time
to understand how to manually develop and
manipulate the data with the capability of understanding
the agencies' needs from the ground
up and the issues facing it.
Before an agency decides to procure the latest
and greatest scheduling and data software, they
should answer the following questions: Can your
staff and coworkers tell you how to manually add
and subtract time, or manually produce running
time, headways, runcutting and rostering?
In recent years, I had to learn how to roster
manually and understand the challenges and
failures associated with the process. It opened
new doors and understanding that I wish had
been taught years ago. It was not easy at first, but
it became easier and quicker over time with practice.
The deeper question is, does your scheduling
team understand what drives your programs and
their results? There is a reason that the airlines
suggest pilots fly the plane periodically instead
of relying on autopilot and the same is true for
the scheduling team.
The scheduling team must understand
their operation from a combination of
available data and firsthand accounts
and cannot rely on any one method.
Today's software programs offer functionality
Read more from the
Scheduling Conundrum at
that enable the creation of quick and efficient
solutions along with multiple comparisons. They
enable the user to look at several routes at one
time, create efficiencies and pick out mistakes
while making better overall decisions. Automatic
Passenger Counters (APC) deliver ridership and
running time data at a level that would have been
impossible to acquire without a large staff. The
42 | Mass Transit | | JUNE 2021
40867564 | Fabio Freitas E Silva | Dreamstime
bigger question facing today's agencies is not only
who manages the data, but who understands it.
We have all become comfortable with the software
doing the grunt work; we have become a
little (very) lackadaisical about understanding
the information and if it is correct.
I believe that a scheduler should at least understand
the basics of the job so that they properly
utilize the technology. When a local department
of transportation asks what is needed and
an adequate answer cannot be produced, you
might end up with a product that leaves you in
the same position you were in before you purchased
it. How do you know what to look for if
you do not know the relevant questions to ask
and issues to consider?
The scheduling team must understand their
operation from a combination of available data
and firsthand accounts and cannot rely on any
one method. They must know what to ask and
what to look for. As another tool, agencies would
be wise to put some type of driver input form
in place for operators to give firsthand accounts
of problems they experience. The lack and loss
of intuitional and technical knowledge in the
scheduler position hinders many agencies from
realizing cost saving measures during events like
the pandemic to service upgrades when circumstances
improve. No matter the situation, a good
scheduler who understands the needs of their
agency is invaluable not only for their scheduling
ability, but the knowledge they possess, which is
needed now more than ever.


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Mass_Transit_June_2021

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