Q’POD Case Study: Eau Claire Transit
Seeing is Believing: Demo Convinces Eau Claire Transit of the Time Savings and Better Securement with Q’POD
One demonstration was all it took to convince Mike Branco, Transit Manager for the City of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, that the Q’POD wheelchair securement system could help operators save time, improve passenger safety and minimize driver injuries.
“We’re always looking for ways to speed things up and do them more efficiently,” says Branco. “When I saw the Q’POD in action at the 2010 Wisconsin Public Transportation Conference, I had to show my manager, because I think securement of a typical wheelchair took only 15 to 20 seconds at the most.”
Just to be sure, Branco’s team did their own side-by-side comparison of Q’POD and their current securement system. “It literally took two-and-a-half to three times longer to do the traditional wheelchair securement with our system versus the Q’POD.”
After installing Q’POD in its five newest buses, Eau Claire Transit conducted training sessions to familiarize drivers with the new devices. “The drivers loved it and a majority of them saw the value right away,” says Branco of the widespread employee support for this management decision.
The bending and kneeling required with the transit system’s other securement devices have resulted in driver complaints and back injuries. That’s changed on the buses with Q’POD. “We haven’t had a worker’s compensation claim about anything back-oriented because of Q’POD,” says Branco. “That’s huge because we’re always trying to minimize driver risk.”
“A lot of transit agency procurement is focused on the mechanics of the bus. Is it easily repairable? What kind of engine? I think the customer experience is important, too, and so is helping the driver be as comfortable as humanly possible. I’ve used Q’POD as something to add to their comfort level when purchasing a new bus.”
The Q’POD equipment itself has proven less prone to injury than Eau Claire’s other securement systems. With those, Branco says, “the belts would always be in the water, or in the mud. And they’d get frayed, or start deteriorating from salts. We were constantly replacing belts.” That, too, has changed with Q’POD. “People talk about the tie-downs on Q’POD and how great they’re engineered. But in my opinion, the seatbelt goes unsung,” he says. “They’re self-contained, so you have less option for wear and tear because they’re not hanging out in the elements. I don’t think we’ve changed a belt yet on any Q’POD at all, and we’ve had these buses for two years now.”
Passengers have praised the availability of Q’POD as well. “It involves less touching, and passengers have commented how it’s less intrusive,” says Branco. “They’re happier about that. I think any of us can appreciate that.”
This level of empathy and concern is not surprising from a system that quite literally goes the extra mile for its wheelchair passengers. “Each one of our buses is handicapped accessible, but one thing we do that’s kind of neat is if we’re full with both wheelchair spots occupied, one of the supervisors will take out another bus so that we don’t have to leave a wheelchair passenger behind.”
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