Sep. 1, 2016
C-TRAN of Clark County, WA has been providing safe, reliable, and convenient public transportation for 35 years, but their fareboxes were 25 years old, causing delays and frustrating the passengers and operators. So the C-TRAN Board of Directors approved a Request for Proposals (RFP) to procure a new automated fare collection (AFC) system.
C-TRAN puts the customer experience first; takes the LECIP leap
Bob Medcraft, C-TRAN's Field Operations Manager, wanted to ensure that the customer experience was fully considered at every step of the procurement. "Procuring a customer-friendly system was my highest priority," said Medcraft.
C-TRAN received several proposals, including one from LECIP, Inc. According to Medcraft, "What I really liked about the LECIP farebox was the customer interface as well as LECIP's unique coin hopper that has a deep chute allowing passengers to deposit multiple coins at one time."
LECIP has been a proven market leader in Asia since 1953, but they were unknown to C-TRAN. C-TRAN learned that LECIP has an office and distribution facility in Illinois, with manufacturing in both New York and Illinois. C-TRAN also received strong references from LECIP's long-term customers. According to Akio Fujii, COO of LECIP Inc., "LECIP's commitment to developing business in the US based on our strong references elsewhere had a big influence over C-TRAN's decision."
According to both Medcraft and Akio, there are several features of the LECIP farebox that are superior. For instance, delays are reduced because passengers can insert many coins at once, and the operators do not have to worry about being late. "Our farebox is built modularly," added Akio, "so if there is a failure, the agency can replace the suspected module instead of changing the entire farebox."
C-TRAN selected LECIP's solution, even though C-TRAN's would be the first LECIP installation in the US. "Our proposal was based on our successes in Japan and Asia," said Akio. "Therefore, LECIP may sound new to US customers, but we are a very proven and viable alternative."
Partnering to overcome the obstacles of installation and testing
The installation process was not without its challenges, but as Medcraft observed, "LECIP was responsive, open, and honest with us the whole time. LECIP's engineers were focused on solving issues quickly. For example, they designed a new bracket that our buses required without delay." Juno Okano, the Project Manager for LECIP, believes that the biggest obstacle during Project Implementation was the challenge of introducing a new product to all end users. "With a brand new technology comes learning curves," said Okano. "Thanks to extensive training sessions and a joint effort to share operator and agency feedback, we were able to overcome this issue."
With LECIP, C-TRAN implemented the new AFC system they had envisioned. According to Medcraft, the C-TRAN operators really like the new system. "The operators no longer need to perform any manual punching, the validation of the currency is nearly flawless, and our routes run on time." Of course the passengers love the new AFC system, too. "With the support of LECIP, we have greatly improved the C-TRAN customer experience," said Medcraft.
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