One of the most critical challenges facing rural and small urban transit agencies in the U.S. today is the scarcity of available funds. Although volunteers can help transit agencies reduce operational costs, the barriers to volunteerism, such as difficulties attracting and coordinating volunteers and addressing liability issues, inhibit the widespread use of volunteers by transit agencies.
This project will provide a decision support system that transit agencies can use to attract, organize, and coordinate volunteers to provide transportation services to customers. The system will essentially be a two-sided application platform (one for volunteers and one for transit agencies) with an optimization matching engine that will guide the pairing of volunteers with specific transit-related tasks. The project team will develop the system, test it, and advance it to a prototype support platform for application and potential commercialization.
The platform has the potential to help transit agencies attract and recruit volunteers, including younger volunteers, and involve them in a number of transit operational activities. The platform is also expected to improve allocation of resources, facilitate cost reductions, and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of transit operations. Furthermore, the platform can help transit agencies provide more personalized services to meet the mobility needs of their customers.