How Trapeze and Austrics helps Donric Group with rail replacement services

Published October 16, 2023 in Blog

The Donric Group is a large bus operator that includes Sunbury Coaches, Trans North Bus and Coach, and Coach Tours of Australia. Formed in 1980, the company has grown from a small fleet of eight school buses to more than 400 buses, 210 contracts and 16 depots across Queensland and Victoria.

Donric’s Sunbury Coaches business operates fixed-route and rail replacement services in Melbourne and surrounding suburbs. The company has over 90 buses and started using Trapeze’s bus Planning and Scheduling solution, Austrics, in 2020.

Melbourne Rail Replacement Services

In late 2021, Donric secured a significant rail replacement contract that commenced in January 2022 with Metro Trains Melbourne to support rail upgrade projects associated with Victoria’s ‘Big Build’. Donric’s rail replacement contracts can cover projects over a substantial area of Melbourne’s passenger rail network during periods of disruption and planned maintenance. Donric regularly manages rail replacement bus services on the Frankston, Pakenham, Cranbourne, Belgrave, Lilydale, Glen Waverley, Hurstbridge, Mernda, Craigieburn, Sunbury, Sunshine, Werribee, City Circle and Williamstown lines.

Donric then had to manage Sunbury Buses’ two depots in Sunbury and Tullamarine, plus organise the schedules of their multiple contractors to deliver these services. However, their business had outgrown their processes for scheduling their bus operations. Donric required a solution that improved efficiency and productivity while maintaining their planning and scheduling operability. Rail replacement services are different to fixed-route operations as they involve bus provisions across multiple rail lines, sections, and stations, at various times – making it challenging to plan schedules that work in the real world. For example, complex multi-line disruptions spanning day-night cycles along with weekends and weekdays.

Donric’s biggest challenge was coordinating numerous subcontractors and maintaining control of the schedules when meeting their service delivery obligations.

Technology + People – How Trapeze Helped Donric

As Donric had experienced significant business growth, they required new systems and processes to meet their requirements and scale with them. They selected Austrics as their planning and scheduling solution as it is a proven system and widely used in Victoria by many bus operators. Austrics supports its business model of sub-contracting rail replacement services due to its flexibility in areas such as allowances, shift sign-on times, vehicle recovery time and Enterprise Bargaining Agreements for multiple sub-contractors with different requirements.

Paul Noor, Donric’s Service Delivery Manager, said, “Donric has grown rapidly, and Austrics has allowed us to keep up with demand and contract delivery. We’ve used Trapeze’s Austrics bus planning and scheduling solution to help organise route and rail replacement services in Sunbury and Melbourne’s suburbs.”

Austrics can run numerous ‘What-If’ analyses to provide options, including the number of buses and driver shifts needed, and helps with fatigue management compliance for legal and operable schedules. Austrics easily imports path and timetable data from Metro Trains Melbourne via built-in interfaces and quickly produces accurate and optimised schedules.

Donric’s staff tailor efficient schedules for their subcontractors by utilising Austrics’ flexibility. This includes different vehicle and driver schedule optimisation options which can be applied depending on the outcome required to suit each subcontractor’s operational needs and preferences. For example, a range of in-depot and on-route driver change-over and break options can be accommodated.

Austrics helps Donric manage dozens of subcontractors, up to 40 depots, and in peak periods, over 200 buses and drivers at a time when creating rail replacement schedules. Austrics has reduced operational costs, and Donric can quickly create schedules within hours on the day of receiving rail replacement timetables. Without Austrics, Donric would not be able to schedule the required services in time.

Trapeze don’t just provide bus software; professional services that meet customers specific support needs is also available. For Donric, Trapeze has provided advanced training on the solution to help build capacity and enhance product knowledge within the planning and scheduling team.

Then in March 2022, Donric contacted Trapeze for support when one of their key planning and scheduling team members became ill. They needed help to complete time-sensitive planning and scheduling work to get drivers and buses on the road to fulfil their contractual obligations. When Trapeze was contacted at short notice on a weekend, an agreement was set up within a business day. With a local presence, industry expertise and a strong client relationship, Trapeze immediately understood what was required.

Trapeze’s Austrics professional service team mobilised quickly to allocate team resources to complete the work. Declan Wain, Trapeze’s Planning and Scheduling Product Specialist, began delivering the required schedules mid-Monday and effectively became part of Donric’s extended team. He is now available to help Donric when they require his expertise, along with other Trapeze ANZ Bus personnel who have over 40 years of combined industry experience, both within Australia and internationally.

Paul Noor mentioned, “Trapeze responded to our request quickly, and Declan stepped up to help us keep our operations running during a difficult time. We appreciate Trapeze’s assistance, including delivering training and quickly mobilising professional services staff to help meet our contractual requirements.”

Trapeze and Donric’s partnership have demonstrated the benefits of collaboration. While in-house knowledge is vital to achieving operational solutions, collaboration with our partners is proven to deliver outstanding results. Trapeze’s ANZ Bus team supports growing businesses that need to scale up their services quickly. We help our partners find additional efficiencies and provide planning and scheduling resources and training when needed.

Conclusion

Austrics has received positive feedback from Donric Group employees on how it has helped improve their processes – including increased scheduling productivity and shift quality in terms of efficiency and operability. Donric’s success shows that the Austrics solution is flexible and adapts to unique bus operator models, including specialised rail replacement services that involve dynamic and challenging contracts.

Trapeze Group congratulates Donric Group for their success. We look forward to being their technology partner to deliver great bus services to Sunbury’s and Melbourne’s travelling public.

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Meet the author

Bennett Humphries

ANZ Bus Senior Product Manager, Trapeze Group

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