Halloween may have come and gone for another year but the issue of ghost routes remain for local authority transport departments.

What is a ghost route?

For those of you not familiar with the term, a ghost route is a service that the local authority has commissioned from an external bus or taxi operator which for whatever reason is no longer being used but is still being paid for as it has not been cancelled or decommissioned.

An extreme example of a ghost route is from a local authority that commissioned a service for an elderly lady that required adult social care, sadly after a short period of time the lady passed away. However, no one from the local authority’s transport team was made aware of this, so the route was still live and commissioned. The driver did not inform the operator that there was no one to pick up so the operator continued to claim for the route and was paid accordingly. For those of you curious, the ghost route was identified nine months after it should have ceased.

In this instance, the local authority then had to undertake claw back activities at additional time and expense to compile and reconcile the data. In today’s current economic climate, with additional pressures on operators and drivers would a local authority be able to initiate claw back? The unintended consequences of this action being that a potential significant dent in cashflow could put an operator out of business leading to routes not being delivered or delivered at higher cost to the local authority?

Mitigating the risk of ghost routes

As we can see, ghost routes are scary to both the local authority and the operator for the damage they can bring both financial and reputational. Manual processes, checks and balances can be implemented to reduce the risk of ghost routes however this would increase the workload of staff which will impact elsewhere on the service. There must be a better way to reduce the risk of ghost routes without manual processes.

As a transport technology provider Kura has the solution to exorcise these ghost routes, without the need of a priest or holy water! Kura enables either the passenger or driver to tap in to register that they are on the transport, the local authority is able to capture and review this data in real time providing detailed and accurate usage reports. If a route is not being utilised or passengers are not embarking, then the transport department can use that data to review and take necessary actions.

If Kura technology was implemented, anyone would agree that a ghost route would be identified much sooner than nine months. The driver would know that each journey was being tracked and that this knowledge would act as suitable deterrent for fraudulent activity.

If you would like to know more about Kura technology, please get in touch: [email protected]