Company overview

The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) is a public transportation agency that provides fixed-route and demand-responsive public bus services for seven suburbs located approximately 15 miles south of Minneapolis and St. Paul: Apple Valley, Burnsville, Eagan, and Rosemount in Dakota County, Savage, Prior Lake and Shakopee in Scott County. The MVTA is one of four independent transportation agencies formed in the late 1980’s under state legislation that allowed outer-ring suburbs to “opt-out” of centrally provided transit services.

The challenge

MVTA’s service is designed primarily to transport passengers from the residential suburbs within its service area to bustling areas in Minneapolis and St. Paul. While the majority of the company’s ridership is concentrated during rush hour, MVTA service operates seven days per week and up to 18 hours per day on some routes.

In an effort to attract more riders, the MVTA team brainstormed a fews ideas for how they could make the bus experience more enjoyable and convenient for those suburban residents. They wanted a solution that could address the fact that they could better utilize the 30-40 minutes each way than sitting behind the wheel, and felt confident that by offering free WiFi inside buses could help draw back riders and even entice potential new riders to give the MVTA a try.

The solution

reliable connection and easy onboarding. Complaints of a burdensome process could backfire and hurt the already stringent budget. Or worse, riders could be deterred from giving the bus another chance in the future.

Since they needed to install WiFi in both the bus stations as well as individual bus fleets, MVTA set out to find the ideal solution that would fit all their needs for each environment. For the stations, they went with Cisco’s high-performing indoor access points. With Cisco’s powerful and intuitive cloud management, MVTA was able to have clear network-wide visibility and control across their stations.

Next, they saw that Cradlepoint solutions were purpose-built for mobile implementation and transportation networks. And as an expert in next generation in-vehicle connectivity, Cradlepoint was both a cost-efficient and secure solution. Best of all, it could be monitored and managed remotely from the cloud. Once MVTA chose the proper hardware – Cisco for networking in station offices and Cradlepoint for buses – they set out to find a guest WiFi product that could best complement the overall solution.

They needed an easy overlay solution that could work seamlessly with the Cisco and Cradlepoint networks that were in place. They also wanted something that could complement their ability to be managed and monitored in the cloud, be easy to use, and ensure passenger satisfaction. That’s when they discovered Cloud4Wi’s product suite.

What attracted MVTA to Cloud4Wi’s product suite was how intuitive it was. With 4 stations and over 160 buses, rolling out Cloud4Wi’s product suite seemed to be less of a hassle compared to all the other solutions MVTA looked at.

A big deciding factor was how customizable Cloud4Wi’s product suite was. MVTA could pick and choose which login options to offer, set internet policies, and even brand the splash page. Analytics was also something MVTA was very interested in. As passengers got connected, they wanted to be able to see customer demographics – gender, age, language, and even what devices they’re using. Moreover, they could also see how WiFi was being used – when, where, and even why.

When we first started using Cloud4Wi, we were blown away all the different customizations available – a variety of login options, Internet plans, welcome portal templates and more. The product suite is so rich in features, with analytics and marketing applications available, and the best part is all these capabilities are together on one place. This makes our job significantly easier.

Tyre Fant, IT Administrator, MVTA

Results

In June 2015, Cloud4Wi’s product suite was deployed to MVTA’s stations and buses. Once Cloud4Wi’s product suite was in place, passengers were noticeably happier, saving time and energy every day using MVTA buses instead of driving their own cars and wasting time in traffic.

Cloud4Wi’s product suite allowed these passengers to easily get online so they could get a jumpstart on their workday or help cram for an exam. Across all the buses, there was one simple look for the splash page. On the portal, MVTA offers a few login options including Facebook, Google+ and email, so passengers have a choice with how they get online and what information they want to provide to MVTA.

On the splash page, MVTA displays the weather app so passengers can access temperatures for the new few days. MVTA’s Twitter feed is also featured on the splash page. That way, passengers can keep up with any transit news or delays, local current events, and even encourage riders to follow MVTA’s Twitter account.

MVTA has been able to collect user information and to find out who their passengers are. They saw that there was a rather even distribution of age for all the bus riders, with majority of riders between the ages of 21 and 35. Of the device types used, an overwhelming majority, 76%, browsed the internet from their mobile phones.

Because of WiFi Service Analytics, MVTA was able to monitor how guest WiFi is used across all their buses and stations. WiFi Service Analytics provided them data such as how long people are getting connected for, when the most popular connection days and times are, which were weekdays, Monday through Friday, at 8am and 5pm.

The future

Seeing how comprehensive the Cloud4Wi’s product suite is has MVTA thinking about how they can further utilize it to improve future operations. Going forward, they’d like to roll out the solution to the rest of their buses.

MVTA is interested in using the marketing tools that are available on Cloud4Wi’s product suite, specifically surveys. The solution allows surveys to be created, and prompted during the onboarding process, displayed on the splash page, and even promoted after a passenger has gotten off the bus. MVTA sees surveys as a great way to easily get customers feedback. This can help the company praise highly-rated drivers, make improvements to specific fleets, or even justify demanded for more destinations, new routes, or more frequent bus times.

MVTA plans also to make coupons available so discounts can be provided to frequent riders through effective email marketing campaigns. This in turn will help MVTA boost commuters.

MVTA logo

70.000
number of digital identities collected

60%
returning users

133 MB
average traffic per user