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Improved Special Needs Transport (SNT) services with cost savings of £300,000 per year

  • The Special Needs Transport project enabled significant tangible benefits to be delivered in operating this service whilst optimising routes. The project's wider aims resulted in making a better service for Harrow residents.

    Ghan Varsani, Programme Director, Capita

In partnership with Capita®, Harrow Council’s latest ‘Route Optimisation project’, aims to deliver significant cost savings by using route optimisation techniques and Ordnance Survey data to reduce vehicles used; save fuel and optimise driver numbers.

The challenge

Harrow Council’s SNT service was a combined service for residents of any age. This meant there was a wide range of customers with varying needs both in term of residents and education establishments. There were 95 vehicles and 320 staff being used on a regular basis to transport residents to and from their places of education with each vehicle requiring a driver and an escort. Many of these posts were filled on an agency basis and vehicles hired (including the use of taxis).

The Council needed to optimise the SNT service to remove unnecessary trips and part-filled vehicles. This involved a review of routes and staffing as well as taking a closer look at their use of private hire vehicles to fill unmet demand.

The solution

One of the core principles was that the SNT service should operate with a single budget, a single fleet and a single workforce thus optimising utilisation by sharing resources wherever possible.

The new system allows us to better manage our clients, use the vehicles better and make quick last minute changes that used to involve manual route planning.

Terry, SNT Service, Harrow Council

By using Ordnance Survey’s OS MasterMap Integrated Transport Network (ITN) Layer data and Mobisoft’s transport planning solutions, Harrow was able to redefine the optimal routes for its customers. Buses could be routed more efficiently which lead to a reduction of seven vehicles from the fleet.

The selected back office system was able to consume ITN data and handle client details including addresses sourced from the National Land and Property Gazetteer (NLPG). These combined allowed constant route optimisation as clients details and needs changed.

The benefits

  • Total of £290,000 annual savings.
  • Better vehicle and staff management from reducing the number of hire vehicles and agency staff.
  • Reduction in the number of buses (by seven vehicles).
  • Projected ten-year project saving of £980,000.
  • £11,000 annual fuel savings from nearly 100,000 fewer miles driven.
  • A greener service – reduced carbon emissions and new, low carbon-emission vehicles.

The products used

Download this case study PDF – 209kB


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Cardiff Council’s Schools Transport Team supports improved special education needs school routing, optimisation and efficiency using geographic information.

Through OS MasterMap Integrated Transport Network and Topography Layers, over £1 million of savings have been delivered by East Riding of Yorkshire Council by improving the efficiency of school bus routes and better contract management since 2006.

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