Para Transpo information session and workshop: online booking

Questions, comments or suggestions received

Session # 1 – Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Q1. Online booking system: when desired time not available the system should propose a time before and after (desired time).

A1. Thank you for your comments. We would keep this in mind during any system design.

Q2. Online booking should be available beginning at 7am but should remain available in the late evenings as well.

A2. We would expect that an online system would be available 24 hours a day, although starting times for booking will need to be looked at.

Q3. An online booking also incorporates online cancellations what would be fantastic.

A3. We agree. The two go hand in hand.

Q4. Please use my email address. For the ones that are not connected, they could consult the Ottawa Library to book or help them.

A4. Libraries open later in the morning, which might mean that someone could be late in being able to make a booking and that the time they want could be full. Some may also have to rely on Para Transpo to make their way to the library, which may add a level of complexity. To ensure we meet the needs of all our customers, we believe we would continue to offer a phone service parallel to the online booking system.

Q5. Suggest maximum of about 5 advance bookings to a week if a limited is absolutely required (otherwise no limit). Alternative: no limit as long as there are no outstanding points/demerits.

A5. Thank you for your comments. We will be looking at what limits to set as part of our system checks.

Q6. I’m very pro this online booking system. I took a trip to Toronto recently – they’ve put an emphasis on online booking, and then neglected the phone system. Phone system became useless to use. Supplement and not a replacement.

A6. We know that about 40 per cent of our customers would not use an online system. For this reason, it is important to continue offering phone service. The phone system will be complemented with an online system to ensure we meet the needs of every customer.

Session # 2 – Saturday, January 13, 2018

Q7. Seniors that cannot book online do not want to wait 40 minutes on the phone. They ask someone else to book.

A7. We are actively working to reduce wait times and see improvements. An online booking system will move a lot of people away from the phones, and should decrease call wait times.

Q8. How will the playing field be level for those who do not have a computer when the system is first come first served?

A8. Other para transit services have told us this is particularly challenging. That is why we are here asking for suggestions.

Q9. How will online work when there are only a certain amount of times available per hour and online booking is faster?

A9. This is similar to question Q7 above. Please see the response provided for that question.

Q35. Why is your system designed to penalize clients instead of supporting clients? If too many late cancellations (and it is usually due to a faulty system), clients receive warning letters, email and etc.. but if a client is constantly picked up late that run is not flagged to be fixed for client(s). update the system to flag late runs for automatic fixes and assist clients instead of unfairly penalizing them. This is a solution.

A35. A cancellation policy is the best way to make sure the service is available fairly for all customers. Some customers cancel frequently and we want to make sure that they are not taking service away from others. It is the only way to be fair to everyone.

Q10. What about those clients who are in wheel chairs and can call at 7am, but do not have access to a computer?

A10. We are committed to continue offering a phone service for those customers who need this method.

Q11. I foresee online booking will not function in a positive way, much like the GPS and navigation system para uses. The GPS/Navigation system fails to assist clients in being picked up or dropped off in a reasonable time, due to how the GPS sees locations.

A11. This will be a booking system, not a scheduling system. The system may – in the background – assign your trip to a particular run, but that wouldn’t be shown to you. We’d still have people in the background who would schedule the trips.

Q12. How will we know we will be booked on a reasonable run? The GPS system will allow with the online booking to direct us on a run the online systems sees as workable but won’t’ take into account high density areas, traffic, and peak hour times.

A12. This is similar to question Q11 above. Please see the response provided for that question.

Received to date by e-mail or other methods

Q13. The telephone wait times are still excessive. If on-line booking is made available for say 7 days advance, so should telephone booking.

A13. Part of building our system is seeing how and when we start online booking versus phone booking. If advance booking were made available online, it would also be available through the phone.

Q14. I would certainly try/use an on-line booking website. I assume it would be available 24/7. It would also be helpful if it was set up to allow users like me to book more than 1 day in advance. I look forward to seeing such a site being available in future.

A14. Thank you for your comments. Advanced booking would be considered as part of the online booking project.

Q15. As for myself, one change I would find helpful is to let Para Transpo users book 2 or more days ahead. This would allow us to plan our trips for each week in advance, and avoid the early morning phone queues (on hold) which take 10-25 minutes on average. For some of us these waits are costly.

A15. We know that wait times are frustrating. Please also see the answers we provided for Q7 and Q13 above.

Q16. For some strange reason OC Transpo thinks it is highly unfair for online bookings to be an option. They assume not everyone has a computer but I am sure everyone knows someone with a computer. Many non-verbal customers use others to make their bookings but can use a computer.

A16. Many people face barriers that may make it challenging or impossible for them to use an online system. To be fair and to offer the most flexibility, we would continue to offer a phone service in parallel to the online system.

Q17. As a pilot project, I propose the following: Allow those who require regular bookings such as to school, and work, and those with extremely important appointments such as doctor and dentist appointments to make them online. Those who require more spontaneous bookings, such as groceries, movies, concerts, hockey games, bingo, I consider this recreation and not a daily necessity. If it must absolutely be considered for regular bookings limit it to 2 -3 times per week NOT 7), restaurants…etc. could then use the phone a day or two a head of time to make their bookings.

A17. Thank you for your feedback. Treating our customers fairly, equally and equitably is a top priority for us. Based on feedback we received through previous public meetings, we do not make certain trips a priority.

Q18. Booking system on line - Have you asked questions to others cities people who have already implemented an on line system for their disabled clientele to learn from them? If you have done so, was it from a same size city?

A18. As part of our efforts, we have engaged municipalities across Canada, as well as Boston, which is comparable to Ottawa in terms of size. We are planning to go back to them with our list of questions based on these sessions.

Q19. When would the booking system on line be available?

A19. Developing the system will take some time. At this time, the earliest it would be available would be 2020. That said, there are a number of steps involved in this project and it would be at least two years before the system is fully rolled out to all users.

Q20. Would the Para Transpo users be able to make my bookings whenever they want? Or at certain times of the day? (like the booking over the phone)

A20. This question was captured in the online booking workshop. Feedback received will help inform the design of the system.

Q21. Would you test it before making it available to the Para Transpo users?

Q22. Is the system safe to use? Htts? Would we able to see a logo to make sure that is safe?

Q23. Would you have a backup system to save the data if the system crashed or if the power goes out to be able to safe the data?

Q24. Would the data be saved on a regular basis?

Q25. Would the system be user friendly?

Q26. Would the Para Transpo users have access to a tutorial to help them to make/cancel or change our bookings? Or would it be possible to chart with someone on line if the Para Transpo users have difficulties? Or someone over the phone to help us out?

Q27. How would the Para Transpo users know if the time and destinations required would be available? Would the Para Transpo users be able to print the confirmation of their reservations?

Q28. I think London, Ontario has your answer. Advance booking will help group the trips call Sunday for Wednesday Tues – Fri, Monday for Thurs Wed. – Sat, Friday for Monday Thurs. – Sun, Sat for Tues.

A21 – A28. We are very early in the research, consult and development phase of developing any system requirements, but we will keep these questions in mind as we move forward. There would be extensive testing of the system, including customer testing.

Q29. Would different font sizes be available to be used (particularly for the Para Transpo users who are legally blinds?

A29. Accessibility would be considered as we develop any system. Any system would comply with the AODA. We would work closely with community partners such as the CNIB as any system is designed, and will ensure it is rigorously tested by our customers before it is launched.

Q30. Would the Para Transpo users’s personal information (name, address and phone numbers, registration number) be protected, so anybody else could access their personal information? I would suggest that the Para Transpo users can use the registration number as a user name)

Q31. I presume that the Personal Information Acts (provincial and federal ones have been looked at the make sure that the requirements contained in these acts would be followed?

A30 – A31. All protection of privacy regulations would be followed with any online system that is developed. Ensuring the privacy of our customers is a legislated requirement for the City of Ottawa and OC Transpo.

Q32. Would it be guaranteed that when Para Transpo users make bookings nobody could overwrite their bookings?

A32. Any system would tell you if the time was available, or offer alternatives. As is the case with the phone system, once a booking is confirmed, there is no option to overwrite it.

Q33. How would it work for regular bookings? Would the Para Transpo users have to enter them once a month? Once a week?

A33. As it stands, a regular / subscription booking can be entered for a set period of time or an ongoing period of time. Customers don’t have to call back unless something changes. We will look at what options are available as we develop any online system.

Q34. Would it be possible to cancel/modify bookings on line without being penalized?

A34. The same rules would apply as phone bookings – if you cancel less than 3 hours before your trip, it will be considered a late cancellation. If you cancel at your trip time, it will be considered a “cancel at door” or “no show”.

Q35. Would it be possible to make bookings via an application with a smart phone?

A35. We would look at that option. We don’t know yet what the software will be able to do exactly, but it will be one of the things we will be asking for.

Q36. An online booking system would definitely be a positive addition to booking rides on Para Transpo. Obviously, it would eliminate the long waits on hold for current telephone booking users. These long waits have always been a major disruption in our daily routine as I am the main caregiver for my disabled son, and the time spent on hold is usually time spent getting him up and going for the day. We are not frequent users, as we try to use regular OC Transpo as much as possible.

A36. Thank you for your comments. We are working to improve our phone system. The online booking option is intended to be a good complement to the phone system and offer more flexibility to our customers.

Q37. How long in advance would the Para Transpo users be allowed to make their bookings?

Q38. The one change that would make a difference, in my opinion, is to be able to book more than one day in advance. Then, I would not feel compelled to get in the calling queue at 7 in the morning. Of course, if everyone starts booking 3 days in advance (as an example), then I suppose I would too, and probably would be back on the 7 am queue again.

A37 – A38. We will be looking at advance booking, and are seeking feedback on how far in advance bookings should be allowed.

Q39. I think online booking is a great idea. I chit chat with other passengers, and I can determine that at least 50% are in agreement with this, and would use the online option.

A39. Thank you for your comments. We’ll keep that in mind, but we also need to ensure the system works for all our customers. Our plan is to continue to offer the phone service in parallel to online booking to give our customers the most flexibility.

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