The involvement of users from the outset of the project was a key factor to success. The automation of the substitutes module enabled us to gain precious time for planners, but above all it highlighted the desire to equitably meet the expectations of all the drivers.Bernard METAISService Roster Computerization Project Manager - RTM
Improving the management of bus and subway drivers, and ensuring labour transparency while complying with the operating constraints of a mass transit network, explains the implementation of a new human resources information system at the Marseilles Transit Authority (Régie et Transports de Marseilles – RTM). RTM operates 800 kilometres of network with 80 bus lines, 2 subway lines and one streetcar line. It employs 3,000 employees, 1,500 of which are drivers with a similar number of personnel assigned to maintenance, supervision, inspection and administration.
The management of drivers is decentralised across the 5 operations centres in Marseilles. Each depot is responsible for the daily scheduling of its drivers, a particularly complex task usually broken down into several steps :
- The crew scheduling operation, that generates driver work schedules while respecting current labour laws
- The preparation of the duty rosters that enables the individual driver schedules to be drawn up each day. These operations were done until recently using a pencil and eraser.
he work of the planners charged with managing the activity of drivers was particularly fastidious and repetitive. Each day they must manage nearly 300 drivers.
While two thirds of the drivers have fairly regular schedules (rolling roster), the last third – about one hundred substitutes drivers – don’t have a fixed forecast schedule, as they replace absent drivers or fill in for extra workload on the network related to such as occasional cultural or sports events.
Many constraints must be complied to, in generating these schedules, such as :
- balancing the work time of each driver to reach the 35-hour weekly work,
- considering his/her skills,
- work system,
- maximum daily work time,
- minimum rest time,
- maximum number of consecutive work days etc.
Occasional constraints are also possible per driver, for example, no work on Wednesdays or complying with a specific time for the driver’s starting or ending time, etc.
And one must also take into account, and attempt to integrate fairly, driver preferences as regards lines and hours.
RTM was equipped with management IT resources whose technology and design were 15 years old, and needed to be replaced. The decision to acquire an IT tool meeting the above needs was made in 1998. The team in charge of the project began by taking stock of the market situation by visiting other city transit systems – RATP (Paris), Strasbourg, Mulhouse, Bordeaux – which gave the team a good idea of what was possible.
A work group was set up with a group of users that very clearly defined its requirements. With the specifications drawn up, the group selected the duty roster solution FDS distributed by software vendor Sopra. This solution was chosen because it met the very strong demand by users for finely-tuned optimization of personnel planning.
Finding and optimizing the right match between the skills required by the services to be covered and the skills offered by available drivers, while taking into account their preferences, is precisely what the LP-ShiftPlanner component has been designed for.
This optimization module developed by Eurodecision is totally integrated into the FDS software. LP-ShiftPlanner is based on mathematical programming and column generation techniques and includes the ILOG Cplex solver. It allows coupling a generator of parts of schedules assignable to each driver with a selector that will choose among these schedule parts to obtain a solution that complies with all the requirements and constraints and optimizes the criterion selected.
LP-ShiftPlanner optimizes a schedule according to many criteria. The ‘’collective labour’’ criteria favours work equality over the satisfaction of individual preferences, while the ‘’individual labour” criteria first takes into account the satisfaction of individual preferences, then equality. Economic criteria allow favouring the credit/debit balance of hours worked.
After defining the optimization strategy, the service roster manager launches the “substitutes module” via FDS, to obtain a proposed schedule, meeting all the constraints, in less than ten minutes. The manager can approve or reject the proposal. (When done manually, this task required two days of work by a specialist planner.) In these conditions, the first schedule complying with all the constraints became the next day’s duty roster, with no optimization of collective labour criteria or individual preferences.
Today the system has been enthusiastically accepted by users. Not only are the planners’ work conditions considerably improved, with much less stress around producing the next duty roster in time, but it was also possible to reassign personnel to other jobs due to the efficiencies achieved by the system.
Sopra’s FDS solution is being deployed to all 3,000 RTM personnel. And the “substitutes module” is used for placing personnel whose work system is subject to constraints inherent to their assignments.