Prairie Hills Transit (PHT), a CTAA member serving 15 rural communities in western South Dakota, has received the Accelerating Innovative Mobility grant from the FTA to automate its paratransit dispatch system using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. The system will collect real-time field data to replace most radio communication, allowing PHT to manage more rides with the same number of dispatchers and decrease costs.

PHT is currently implementing services to enhance the experience for its riders to allow bookings via apps and web portals. PHT is also deploying electronic fare cards for its riders to allow contactless payment on its vehicles with a complete backend accounting system. The new technology to automate dispatch using an AI approach will allow PHT to provide a superlative consumer experience similar to ride hailing companies. The technology will provide customers with real-time ride notifications via text or voice based on real-time changes from the field. The technology platform will rebuild routes dynamically based on passenger pickup and arrivals, available driver slack, real time GPS information and make data driven decisions to notify existing customers of route changes in near real-time. The technology will offer on-demand rides using available seats on its routes to all riders in the community, a customer experience similar to that offered by ride hailing companies.

“We are very excited to offer this new technology to our customers”, said Barb Cline, PHT Executive Director and CTAA Board Member. “Now more than ever it’s extremely important to enable our riders, parents and family members, as well as our managed healthcare contracts, to have immediate access to technology.”

PHT has partnered with QRyde, a transportation technology company, to develop and implement this technology. PHT believes the technology will allow the system to expand its services in the region. The AI-based dispatch system using QRyde technology can be extended to other transit agencies across the region in South Dakota and beyond to enhance customer experience for riders of public transit.