Tendring Community Transport (TCT) is a well-established Community Transport scheme based in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex. It operates in an area east of Colchester comprising a mixture of rural communities as well as coastal towns and villages. All in all, the Tendring district comprises approximately 130 square miles.
Together with their six social car scheme partners, Tendring provides wheelchair accessible and door-to-door transport for people of all ages who either find it difficult or impossible to access public transport. In 2015/16, TCT’s “Can do” approach delivered an impressive 166,422 passenger journeys.
“Our ongoing aim is to provide creative solutions to complex transport problems.” Says TCT’s CEO, Pauline Mann. And that’s where switching to CATSS comes in…
“We first started looking for a new scheduling system when the support ceased from our previous provider, Special Needs Transport.” Pauline continues. “We’d been using it for around 15 years and, until the support stopped, it was great.”
Faced with having to replace SNT, Tendring first looked to see which systems other local operators were using. “We decided on a system used by other CT schemes in Essex. It’s a web based booking system but it did not suit our needs and we only used it for six months before we had to stop.”
After another review of the market TCT chose CATSS as the ideal replacement for the SNT software they’d previously used so successfully. Because CATSS is developed by CT operators, for CT operators, we were able to set up the CATSS software to complement the way TCT already worked: their organisation, vehicle types and the range of journeys they made. As well as avoiding upheaval and inconvenience, it meant that TCT’s system wasn’t loaded with anything they’d never use.
“We selected CATSS as the software was very similar to SNT.” says Pauline. “It gave us flexibility, allowed us to pick suitable time slots for our users rather than being allocated slots by the system – and everything was so user friendly.”
We wanted to get TCT benefitting from our software as quickly as possible. “All our staff received onsite training and were confidently using CATSS the next day.” Pauline continues. “Now, if we experience any problems with the booking system the CATSS support team is always there to deal with it, very quickly and efficiently.”
Tendring is one of the most deprived areas in Essex and, based on the overall deprivation measures, is within the top 20% of most deprived local authorities in England. With a high demand for health services, TCT’s hospital transport service is especially vital. We knew the pressures TCT faced as a CT operator so simple, transparent pricing, with a fixed licence fee and set up charge with no on-going or hidden costs, guaranteed there’d be no unexpected bills later.
TCT are more than happy with their CATSS system. “We find Daily Manager especially useful because we’re able to see exactly what is happening on a daily basis at a glance. The Report feature makes information readily available for STATS.”
“I’d definitely recommend CATSS – the system is easy to use, the support is brilliant and by making our service more efficient it’s also boosted our passenger numbers.”
Pauline Mann, CEO, Tendring Community Transport
Originally a volunteer bureau, Shire Community Services has been providing transport and mobility support to the local communities of Wellingborough and surrounding Northamptonshire villages since 1973. They operate a fleet of five minibuses as well as managing a team of 30 volunteer car drivers.
Before switching to CATSS, Shire was making bookings and organising journeys using SNT (Special Needs Transport) software. However, when SNT were no longer able to provide vital support and updates, it was time to look for a new provider.
“CATSS was a natural progression for us from SNT. Both programmes were created by some of the same writers and so it was an obvious choice.” says Rosemarie O’Reilly, Shire’s Senior Transport co-ordinator. “After having a demonstration of the system, the decision was unanimous: we didn’t need to shop around and look at any other software because this was the one.”
CATSS provides comprehensive set up, installation and training to ensure the software is configured to each client’s needs and that they’re 100% happy using it. For Shire Community Services this was a major benefit.
“We found CATSS to be intuitive and user friendly which made it easy to train new staff. But the back up and online support during and after installation was superb – and it still is.” Rosemarie continues. “Questions and queries are answered very promptly. Quite recently we had a major incident and all our systems were encrypted and we were held to ransom. We lost two PCs including the CATSS manager, causing mayhem and major panic in our office. CATSS support were fabulous and had us back up and running within hours and we only lost that morning’s work. As a charity, with the potential problems for users and cost, this could have been so damaging for us. Words cannot express the gratitude we felt that day.”
A feature that Shire find especially useful is our mobile communication app, KITTENS, which operates on the GPRS mobile network using Android mobiles or tablets. It integrates with CATSS to provide real-time information exchange between their drivers and vehicles.
“The computers talking directly to the buses is both a time saving and a cost advantage for us. We no longer have the problem of contacting drivers while they’re out and about to tell them about cancellations and alterations to journeys. It also allows us to keep passengers up to date with exactly where the bus is at any given time.” says Rosemarie.
“The Reports function is also helpful.” Rosemarie continues. “We use the reports daily to enable us to ensure we are running in the most cost-effective manner. We love the fact we can keep a close eye on the demographics and this is so useful to us when we are looking to do publicity within certain areas.”
As the UK population ages, CT usage seems set to rise, whilst pressures on budgets increase. By providing a smarter way to schedule and monitor journeys, CATSS is already helping Shire not just survive – but expand. “CATSS enables us to keep a constant eye on efficiency, scheduling the buses is much easier and the knowledge it holds on each passenger helps us to instil confidence with our members.” Rosemarie says. “Since having CATSS we have expanded our business into other areas of the county and this has been made easier to use with the mapping systems.”
I personally love CATSS and all its features and I’ve demonstrated the programme on more than one occasion to other organisations that have asked what system we use. I’d like to say a huge thank you to all the staff at CATSS that clearly work so hard to keep us on the road and help us to help so many elderly and disabled people within our community.
Rosemarie O’Reilly, Senior Transport Manager, Shire Community Services
Originally a volunteer bureau, VASA (Voluntary Action Stratford upon Avon) has been providing Community Transport since 1978. From their office base in Stratford upon Avon they now provide a volunteer driver service to people who are ‘stuck’ for transport in three districts in South Warwickshire and surrounding areas. Currently operating with over 120 volunteer drivers and 2 members of staff managing an office team of almost 20 volunteer telephone operators, they provide around 1500 journeys a month.
“Our previous software provider created us a driver portal whereby the volunteers could log in and see what journeys were required in and around their area. This was a huge development and helped us a great deal, however the reporting and statistics weren’t always accurate.”
“We’d heard about CATSS and it was a game changer for us when they agreed to develop a driver portal. It was nice to work closely with the team at CATSS on the development of this portal. It was a real bonus and gave us all something to work on during Covid. We were up and running with CATSS in August 2020 and have never looked back.”
“It’s easy to train new volunteers here in our office as the system is built in a such a way that you can’t move on to the next screen if you haven’t completed all the required fields which is great.”
“We are impressed by the number of reports available, plus they were able to build us bespoke reports including an invoice report that has saved us huge amounts of time.”
“Since having CATSS we have expanded our business to schedule minibuses for a partner organisation, and take on new contracts.”
What I particularly like is that the CATSS team listened to what we needed and, where possible, developed the system further. We were really pleased that our ideas for development were taken on board so well. They are always there on the support line for help when you are struggling with something and I never feel that I can’t call them for help.
Ali Gravestock, Senior Transport co-ordinator, Voluntary Action Stratford upon Avon
North Coast Community Transport (NCCT) is the largest community transport operation in Northern Ireland, covering the Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council and the old Ballymena council area. They have been operating for over 20 years delivering approximately 60k passenger trips per year to individuals in rural areas who have difficulty accessing conventional means of transport.
“NCCT had used a manual system when the membership and trips were extremely low. However, on building and growing the organisation we knew we needed a more robust and comprehensive system to effectively manage all the aspects of our transport. We needed something that would be efficient and straightforward for the office to use. So, the search for a suitable software system began.”
“Having identified two possible candidates, we ran the two systems side by side for a trial period before making our final decision. It became apparent quite quickly that CATSS was the more appealing to use. The user-friendly appearance and operation made it easy to navigate and use. Coping with a busy office, CATSS helps our staff to efficiently handle all situations and requests from both members and employees.”
“An extremely important element of using another organisations system or product is the interpersonal relations they provide. The relationship we have built with CATSS team is one we hold in very high regard. In addition to their ability to deliver a fabulous system, the approachable and friendly team was another reason why we chose CATSS.”
“The guidance and assistance we received on integrating the CATSS software into our organisation made the process flawless. Training and continuous communication enabled our staff to become familiar very quickly with the software. The CATSS team dedicated a lot of time and patience in setting up the software and ensuring everything would run well once we started using it.”
“We have worked with the CATSS team for the past 14 years, during which time the support dedicated to NCCT as a client, has never faltered. Over this time we have also benefited from the constant evolution of the CATSS software, providing many new features and enhancements that have largely been the result of feedback and ideas from ourselves and other CATSS clients.”
The adaptability of the system along with the willingness of the great team that drive it, means that CATSS does exactly what we need it to do.
Put simply, we wouldn’t be without CATSS now! It is a wonderfully thought out and ever evolving system and we depend on it to assist with the smooth running of our organisation.
Emma Mullan, Deputy Manager, North Coast Community Transport