zTrip switches from old Nextel phones to Zello and transforms the service level for its mobility-impaired passengers

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zTrip has 25-years’ experience in offering transportation in a safe and courteous manner. In Kansas City, it participates in special programs such as RideKC Freedom, a free program for passengers with mobility issues.

Challenge: Incessant chatter and overlapping conversations in a high-needs customer facing environment.

RideKC Freedom’s paratransit operation provides door-to-door service to passengers with disabilities. This means the driver has to exit the vehicle, go to the most exterior door, assist the passenger to the vehicle, onto the vehicle, secure them in the vehicle, take them to where they are going, and then reverse the process on the other end. With so many steps, it is essential that drivers maintain constant contact with their dispatcher during the process, and having a reliable communication solution is crucial to their success.

Cam Hendry, zTrip Operations Manager for special programs, knows this area of zTrip better than anyone. “Because these customers have a disability, there’s a lot of question marks behind how long it takes to complete a trip. What if you get there and there’s not good access to the passenger? What if you’re taking someone home and they can’t be left unattended but there’s no one home to get them? There’s a lot of things that just generally interfere with the regular flow of business all day long that is inherent in the service. And, it’s all dependent on communication.”

According to Hendry, RideKC Freedom was hindered by poor communication on outdated Nextel phones that operated like two-way radios. Teams were challenged by the incessant chatter and overlapping conversations in a high-needs environment. Even worse, that same chatter could be heard by all customers in every vehicle. Because timing, details and courtesy are paramount to serving its mobility-impaired customers, zTrip knew a better solution must exist.

With an average of 1100 trips a day, serving more than 35,000 passengers enrolled in RideKC Freedom, zTrip prides itself on providing its customers reliable transportation. Using simple, reliable, crystal-clear voice, Zello quickly became an indispensable tool for zTrip.

Solution: How Zello helped

zTrip dispatcher Kimberly Rivera explains: “There’s constant communication. When a vehicle breaks down and can’t run, the passengers for that vehicle have to get picked up by another driver and taken somewhere.. They have to use Zello to tell the driver and say something has happened and you need to go get this passenger first. Zello runs all day long.”

Dispatchers rely on Zello’s centralized Dispatch Hub to take driver calls from the same queue, helping them share their workload and assist the drivers more efficiently. With one-to-one or one-to-many channels, drivers feel better supported while minimizing the conversations that drivers can hear.

“We streamlined the amount of traffic and conversations that we’re having to deal with, which left us with only those conversations that were necessary,” said Hendry. “Dispatchers have more time to be dispatchers! They can focus on their jobs and not their tools and the other things going on around them. It has definitely had that effect in RideKC Freedom.”

“Within a few days, the drivers were coming in saying, ‘you were right, listening to all this will just drain you.’ We love Zello but that is the number one reason I like it. Everybody doesn’t have to hear everything,” said Hendry.

Conclusion: Crystal clear communication to the people who need to hear it and a better experience for those that don’t

zTrip attributes their use of Zello for improving the passenger experience from pick up to drop off. “The customer experience is much better when they don’t have to listen to constant conversations from other drivers in other vehicles. The passengers don’t have to hear everything, and we believe that is a positive.”

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