By Mark Williams | 4 min. read
As discussed in 7 Tips for Sourcing Hospital Shuttle Buses, a well-developed shuttle service can address a number of healthcare campus hitches.
Some shuttle services move employees and volunteers from remote parking lots to hospital grounds, increasing on-site parking capacity for patients and visitors. Others help improve patient and visitor accessibility on sprawling campuses or reduce single-occupant vehicle usage as part of a transportation demand management plan.
There are many potential benefits, but there’s far more to planning an effective shuttle route than meets the eye.
Once your shuttle service objectives are mapped out, consider the following questions:
1. Will Your Shuttles Offer a Hop-on/Hop-off Service?
A hop-on/hop-off service enables passenger pickup and drop-off wherever requested. Though this is convenient and helps alleviate passenger accessibility concerns, such a service can also pose a safety and liability risk, as unexpected stops may catch other road users off guard.
2. Is Your Ideal Shuttle Schedule Realistic?
Passengers should naturally be transported to their destination in an expedient manner, but schedules should also be designed to avoid causing drivers to rush. Rushing may result in speed limit violations, less careful driving, and other safety compromises. Contact an Impark HEALTH consultant to learn whether your proposed schedule is achievable.
3. Is Your Shuttle Service Efficient?
All shuttle services experience peaks and troughs when it comes to passenger demand. However, if your shuttles spend more time empty than full, your schedule likely has costly inefficiencies. Ensure your service is designed and deployed to mirror demand. Impark HEALTH approaches this by deploying industry-leading technology to analyze trends and consumer behaviors, as well as conducting regular service audits.
4. How Rigidly Must Drivers Stick to Your Mapped-out Route?
Determine whether you require shuttle drivers to stick rigidly to a mapped-out route or whether small variances are permitted. Minor route adjustments can preserve the expediency of your service in the event of rush hour congestion, construction work, or unmaintained roads during inclement weather, to name but a few common scenarios.
5. Can Your Shuttle Vehicles Confidently Navigate the Proposed Routes?
A shuttle route may appear straightforward on paper. However, certain roadways may be too restrictive for vehicles of a certain size and configuration to maneuver. Impark HEALTH recommends driving the route multiple times to ensure a vehicle of your shuttles’ specifications can handle all proposed roadways and turns with minimal blind spots.
6. Will Shuttles Also Deliver Inter-Campus Mail?
If shuttles will double as inter- or intra-campus couriers, it is important to clearly define the types of packages that can and cannot be transported. In addition, be sure to expressly state which members of staff will be held responsible for the packages’ safe delivery. Impark HEALTH advises that the responsible party keeps a log to track all deliveries as a safeguarding measure.
7. Do You Have a Reliable Driver Pool?
It is essential to the integrity of your shuttle service to have a Plan B (and ideally C, D, and E) in the event of a scheduled driver’s absence. This process could involve cross-training other members of your patient transition zone team, such as parking and valet ambassadors.
Remember: most shuttles have air brakes, which require a special license type to operate. Shuttle size will also have an effect on the license drivers need.
8. What Infection Control Measures Will Be Taken During the Day?
One in 31 hospital patients is victim to one or more healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) at any given time, in a battle that costs an estimated $10 billion a year in the U.S. alone.
Measures such as disinfecting vehicles multiple times a day, providing passengers with hand sanitizer and surgical masks, and prominently displaying infection prevention signage should all be integrated into any healthcare shuttle operation. This logic also applies to your parking facility and any other campus entry-points.
9. Does the Proposed Schedule Provide Enough Time for Pre- and Post-Vehicle Checks?
Impark HEALTH recommends that each driver and/or fleet manager spends sufficient time at the beginning and end of their shift fastidiously checking the interior and exterior of shuttle vehicles for cleanliness, damage, biohazards, and so on.
These points by no means amount to an exhaustive list of shuttle requirements and considerations. As such, we strongly recommend enlisting the help of a professional to get your shuttle project moving.
Impark HEALTH has the breadth of skills and experience needed to help you launch pilot projects and expand, refine, and evaluate current patient transition zone services. From the complexities of inter-campus routing to providing the capital to procure a fleet — and at every stop in between — Impark HEALTH can help.
About Impark HEALTH
Impark HEALTH, a subdivision of Impark, provides patient-centered parking, transportation, and wayfinding solutions to healthcare providers across North America. Our patient transition zone expertise, intensive healthcare-specific training, and commitment to excellence have led us to partner with top hospitals across the United States and Canada. Currently, Impark HEALTH bookends more than 15 million patient experiences every year at over 220 healthcare locations.
Impark is one of North America’s largest and most successful parking management companies. Since its inception in 1962, Impark has transformed from a single surface lot operator into an industry trailblazer with a portfolio of over 3,600 locations. As of 2018, the company employs over 8,700 personnel in more than 334 cities and generates in excess of $1.5B in annual revenue for its clients.
Impark’s strong entrepreneurial drive and dedication to superior service has led it to develop a selection of value-added services that includes valet, shuttle, enforcement, automated solutions, and revenue control.