QNEWS BLOG

Busride Magazine details the latest Q’STRAINT Pilot Program with MCAT

When it comes to public bus equipment procurement, the process sometimes exceeds preliminary projections. This was certainly not the case for the Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) when evaluating the Q’STRAINT QUANTUM wheelchair securement solution for installation in its fixed route bus fleet. The MCAT “team” was so impressed with the industry’s newest wheelchair securement solution, they have plans to not only outfit newly acquired buses, but when cost-feasible, retrofit existing buses in their fleet with the QUANTUM. Such decisions are not made easily, and so MCAT took the time and effort to launch a pilot program and install the QUANTUM device on a bus operating along “core network” bus route; and in so doing, receive extensive feedback from Transit Bus Operators, and passengers.

The MCAT system provides public transportation on the west coast of Florida, serving ridership of two million passengers annually. The MCAT services are far-reaching, and include regional services connecting to neighboring communities including Sarasota and St. Petersburg, which are some of the state’s largest municipalities.

MCAT Pilot Program introduction completed after only three months

“The entire process from the initial community and operational presentations and static displays to the completed QUANTUM system installation, and placement of the new device in service delivery operations, took approximately three months,” says William Steele Manatee County’s Transit Division Manager. “This fast pace is a testament to both Manatee County Government and Q’STRAINT, as all parties took the pilot program very seriously and everyone agreed that it is important to gauge the impact of this technology in service delivery operations.”

QUANTUM redefining Wheelchair Securement

It was at the 2016 Florida Public Transportation Association (FPTA) conference where Jim Egbert, MCAT Transit Operations Chief, glanced at the QUANTUM, the next generation automatic rear-facing securement station. The QUANTUM is redefining transit safety and mobility by combining securement expertise, intelligent technology and the latest in modern design.
After the FPTA conference, Q’STRAINT was invited to demonstrate the QUANTUM at an MCAT on-site presentation, where the leadership team quizzed the company on how exactly the securement technology could improve the agencies’ operations and passenger’s efforts.

Prior to the on-site presentation, Jim Egbert, already had a working knowledge of Q’STRAINT and its highly-regarded wheelchair securement product line. While working at the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) in the safety, training, and security division, Egbert was quite familiar with the Q’STRAINT Q’POD, a landmark 3-point wheelchair securement station.
While Mr. Egbert was already pleased with the Q’POD’s performance and positive impact on the entire PSTA system; Egbert was literally floored by the QUANTUM after seeing the product in action during the detailed presentation. “I saw the QUANTUM demonstration and told Bill Steele about this new technology and how simple and easy it is for the Transit Bus Operator; and it provides new-found independence for the passenger. Since then, we’re looking for every possible way to get the QUANTUM system on our buses.”

Why QUANTUM?

There is a reason as to why the QUANTUM has taken the wheelchair securement industry by storm. It represents the transit industry’s first foray into a fully-automatic rear-facing wheelchair securement station. The benefits of rear-facing wheelchair securement are obvious. The QUANTUM allows passengers to effortlessly board the bus and simply back their wheelchairs or scooters into the system, press a button and independently secure themselves. Finally, the QUANTUM’s side-arm lowers and hugs the wheel, safely securing the wheelchair with very minimal operator assistance.
In the rare event that the passenger is unable to push the occupant button independently, the bus operator can operate as a fail-safe by pushing the button located on the bus dashboard. This action secures or releases the passenger without requiring the assistance of the bus operator.

Wheelchair Securement in less than 25 seconds

According to Q’STRAINT, the QUANTUM system can secure a wheelchair in less than 25 seconds; from the time when the passenger pushes the occupant-secure button to final securement. “This is so important because not only does it help the operator maintain the route schedule, it also reduces liability by providing a safe and easy method to secure difficult mobility devices,” said Mitch Drouillard, Southern Regional Manager for Q’STRAINT Sure-lok.

QUANTUM empowers Wheelchair Passengers

In addition, MCAT was drawn to the QUANTUM’S ability to empower their riders with special needs to travel without requiring assistance.

“They enjoy the fact that they now have the independence to board and complete the wheelchair securement process on their own, without relying on the bus operator,” Jim Egbert says. “Furthermore, wheelchair passengers no longer feel as though other passengers are blaming them for delaying the bus and maybe even running late.”

Mr. Egbert added that MCAT operators “really love the QUANTUM,” because passengers quickly self-secure their wheelchair device, which expedites the overall boarding/securement process, and route schedule adherence is maintained.

“This is so important because not only does it help the operator maintain the route schedule, it also reduces liability by providing a safe and easy method to secure difficult mobility devices.”

Transforming the Transit Experience

“The QUANTUM is a win-win Manatee County Government/MCAT and the passengers we serve,” Jim Egbert says. “For transit operations, it provides better schedule adherence, and improves safety issues and liability concerns as wheelchair tip-overs are completely eliminated; and passengers benefit from greater independence and improved securement. The combined efforts of Manatee County Government and Q’STRAINT is the quintessential public-private partnership. In my thirty-five years in the transit industry, I’ve learned how important it is for transit industry vendors to keep pushing the envelope to improve their equipment, and when possible, the transit passenger experience. With Q’STRAINT taking the time and incurring the expense to develop state-of-the-art equipment, and continually refine their high standards in new product development, and their ability to work effectively with transit agencies during new product development, we’re proud to test their new wheelchair securement product, and provide important feedback for product development. In my experience, Q’STRAINT’s can-do attitude and product support are exemplary, so there is simply no need to look elsewhere.”

Sharing the QUANTUM transit experience with area partners

The MCAT team took the QUANTUM “on the road” and shared the success of their pilot program with transit partners in the Tampa Bay Region. Per Transit Manager William Steele, “as a new, state-of-the-art wheelchair securement technology project, it is important that MCAT share the emerging technology with regional transit partners. These partners can see first-hand how the QUANTUM works, and the MCAT team shares their experience with the QUANTUM in service delivery operations. In fact, Operations Chief Jim Egbert and Superintendent Kevin Sheerin took the time to bring the pilot QUANTUM bus to area transit agencies, demonstrate how the device works, and explain to our partners from first-hand experience, how MCAT Transit Bus Operators and passengers realize the QUANTUM benefits. Secondly, with a new statewide transit coach procurement scheduled for fall 2018, we believe that the QUANTUM should be a contract option that transit agencies around the State of Florida can exercise, and then like MCAT, realize the operational and customer service benefits flowing from this technology in service delivery operations.”

Read all about it at Busride.

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