Operations

How To Manage Trips With Mapping Systems

Jim Luff
Posted on June 4, 2014

Online mapping has evolved into a service with plenty of options, such as Google Street View, Google Maps, MapQuest and Microsoft Streets & Trips. All of them can spare you hassles while helping plan accurate trips.

The Quote

Preparing a quote to a city you have never heard of is always a challenge. You must determine the route and how long it will take to get there. A mapping system can determine the exact number of miles from Point A to Point B. With most charter buses using a per mile basis for billing, this can be a great tool to compute the total miles to get to the destination and the time to get there. For those quotes based on an hourly rate, you can easily calculate the travel time and include reasonable stops for food and restroom breaks for a fairly accurate quote.

The Route

In many cases, there may be multiple routes to get to the client’s destination. The shortest distance may not always be the best route for a variety of reasons. If an expressway can be used that includes more miles but a shorter travel time, you should weigh these factors. If the trip is long and requires fueling along the way, a convenient and safe fueling location can be chosen based upon the fuel range of the vehicle and the metro areas you will pass through. In some cases, toll roads can be identified and avoided if you do not have a transponder for the agency handling toll collection.

The Location View

Probably the best function of mapping systems is the use of satellite images. Mapping systems such as MapQuest allow multiple, close-up views to the point where you can even see which homes have swimming pools. While that isn’t important, winding up at the end of a cul-de-sac in a 40-foot bus could pose a huge problem for your driver and a safety issue since we try to avoid backing whenever possible. If you are trying to choose a safe and convenient fueling location, Google Street View allows you to virtually travel down the road and see exactly what your driver will see. If you plan to stop at a commercial truck stop such as a Pilot or Flying J, you will be able to see the neighborhood and perhaps select another city if needed.

Trip Cost Factors

Microsoft Streets and Trips, while not a free program, offers even more bells and whistles, such as allowing you to plug in the vehicle’s average MPG and the current cost of fuel to calculate the cost of fuel for a given trip. Additionally, as part of the price of the software, you will be automatically alerted to construction zones and closures along the route when you enter the starting point and destination. A route sheet with turn-by-turn directions, mile points and times is provided. Travel time calculations are made based on the types of roads such as mountain passes, two-lane highways and city street travel, adding even more accuracy to trip planning.

Related Topics: dispatching, fleet management, fuel efficiency, mapping & routing, New Operator

Jim Luff Contributing Editor
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