Thursday, July 14, 2016

Observing the MATAplus Operation

The Specialized Transportation Advisory Committee shadows MATAplus calls 

Alison Donald
By Allison Donald
On Wednesday July 13, 2016 members of the Specialized Transportation Advisory Committee (STAC) met at the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) were given an opportunity to observe how the paratransit service works.  STAC Committee members observed calls at the MATAplus office for reservations and dispatch. We observed calls from customers and divers. Mr. Fields the Assistant Director of bus operations, Glenda Wade, and Labarbra Houston the Senior Managers of MATA paratransit walked us through the operational procedures and answered any questions we had.

During the two and a half hour shadowing we saw the fluctuation of call volume which the experienced dispatchers and reservationist handled seamlessly.  Mr. Fields also talked about the long wait times some riders have encountered when calling for rides before the eight o’clock when MATAplus opens.  A tip for riders: MATAplus does not answer reservation calls until 8:00 A.M. 

There was also an extensive explanation given in reference to the structure of the manifest.  The driver is the last one to get the trip list and the operations managers are able monitor the progress.  MATA is making an effort to be efficient in planning the trips that go on the manifest. Watching the process I can certainly see why MATAplus can become backlogged by the large number of calls. I felt that not having the third reservationist come in until after the time of the highest call volume was poor management of the system.