MORRISTOWN, NJ - Starting today, Tuesday, December 17, the Morris Area Para-transit System (MAPS) will offer a new, upgraded ride appointment system. The new system will increase efficiency, providing more rides for county residents and a more flexible appointment program, said officials.
A web and cloud-based para-transit and software system, approved by the Board of Freeholders, should offer technological advances to MAPS resulting in better services for eligible senior, disabled, veteran riders, and persons living in rural areas.
“We know there is a great demand for our MAPS system and we want to be able to offer rides to as many people as possible, to more destinations, and with less advance booking time,’’ said Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo.
The new Ecolane system, which is currently used by Somerset County, will include installation and use of tablets in MAPS vehicles, allowing drivers and dispatchers to be better connected and better engage in real time scheduling, said officials. If an appointment is canceled or a person is delayed for pickup at a doctor’s office, for example, the new system can quickly deal with the vacancies and re-route to more efficiently care for other riders.
Expected improvements offered by the new system include:
- Efficiencies in scheduling and completing trips;
- Real-time scheduling, allowing instant evaluation of available time slots;
- Future client web- and app-based dashboard, to allow residents to personally schedule or cancel rides by using the new digital system;
- A focus on ride sharing, instead of individual appointments, which should result in increased ridership;
- Greater accountability for county vehicles and drivers.
- A new tablet installed into a MAPS vehicle to help better connect drivers and dispatch
The new system will make a change in business practices that will require longtime customers to get comfortable with some new rules:
- A decrease in taxi-type service, with emphasis placed on shared rides, with one or more passengers dropped off or picked up during each trip.
- Increased travel time for passengers due to the sharing of transit services.
- A new 20-minute pickup window versus the current exact-time appointments,
- A four-minute wait time for residents who are not ready for pick up at their appointment time. (But they will be telephoned before the van departs).
County officials stress they will work with customers to ensure the transition goes smoothly for passengers and drivers.
“We have been scrutinizing MAPS to make it more efficient, to allow for more rides and riders, and to better serve our county residents,’’ said Morris County Human Services Director Sharon Yoo. “Over the next few months, we will work closely with our customers to make sure they understand the system and use it to their advantage.’’
MAPS is Morris County’s curb-to-curb transportation service for senior citizens (over age 60), people with disabilities, veterans, and the residents who reside in rural areas of the county that have no public transportation. MAPS provides feeder service to NJ TRANSIT bus and rail, and travels to destinations five miles into contiguous counties. The scheduling of rides will remain the same with the new system.
Riders can schedule appointments up to one month in advance and are encouraged to call or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org at least a week in advance due to high demand.
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