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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2007. Paratransit Manager's Skills, Qualifications, and Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14120.
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Page 1
Page 2
Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2007. Paratransit Manager's Skills, Qualifications, and Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14120.
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Page 2
Page 3
Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2007. Paratransit Manager's Skills, Qualifications, and Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14120.
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Page 3
Page 4
Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2007. Paratransit Manager's Skills, Qualifications, and Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14120.
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Page 4

Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

In October 2005, a Consensus Conference for Paratransit Managers was convened by Easter Seals Project ACTION (ESPA) as the result of a Statement of Need submitted to ESPA proposing an effort related to the recruitment, training, retention, and rewarding of paratransit managers on the subject. The conference produced several recommendations to close the gap between the need and availability of qualified and competent paratransit managers. This synthesis effort was developed to satisfy one of the recommendations. It documents the current state of the practice in paratransit managers’ skills, qualifications, and needs. Transit managers, policy makers, educators, trainers, human resource directors, and stakeholders, as well as current and future paratransit professionals, will find the results valuable in deter- mining action steps needed to enhance the profession and paratransit service delivery. For the purposes of this synthesis, paratransit is defined as the full range of demand-responsive services, including Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-complementary, general public dial-a-ride, and human service transportation. A web-based survey questionnaire was used to collect responses. The survey questionnaire was e-mailed to more than 100 agencies and was e-mailed either to the paratransit manager or the general manager (GM)/chief executive officer (CEO) of the agency, with instructions to forward the questionnaire to the “highest-ranking person in the agency with direct respon- sibility for paratransit service delivery.” A total of 60 survey questionnaires were completed and returned from 58 agencies. One survey from each of the agencies that submitted two responses was deleted from the database. Geographically, the survey respondents were located in 37 states and relatively evenly distributed throughout the entire country. Nine of the 58 agencies (16%) served rural areas, whereas the remaining 49 (84%) served urban areas. The synthesis documents, through a review of position descriptions, the current requirements for being a paratransit manager. • Current education requirements for the position, • Current years of experience needed for the position, • Current years of supervisory experience needed for the position, • Current skills required for the position, and • Starting salary ranges for the position. This report discusses the actual experiences of current paratransit managers in the following: • Education achievement (level of education attained and area of study), • Longevity in current position, • Years of experience in passenger transportation, • Years of supervisory experience, • How recruited for current position, • Attraction of the position, • Skills training received in the past five years, and • Current salary ranges. SUMMARY PARATRANSIT MANAGER’S SKILLS, QUALIFICATIONS, AND NEEDS

The report provides information on additional skill sets desired by paratransit managers, their GMs/CEOs, and paratransit advisory committee members. It ranks the skills that are important to paratransit managers, GMs/CEOs, and paratransit advisory committee members. The report documents the recommended additional skills, training, and certifications that paratransit managers should have to improve their overall effectiveness. It provides infor- mation on the views of paratransit managers, their GMs/CEOs, and paratransit advisory com- mittee members on whether paratransit managers should have college degrees and, if they should, what area of study is most desirable. It also presents information on guidance that cur- rent managers would offer aspiring future paratransit managers. Additionally, it provides information obtained from the surveys on the impacts of the structures, cultures, and sizes of transportation agencies on the role and function of the paratransit manager and the delivery of service. The report documents interviews with several paratransit managers and/or their GMs/CEOs to gain a deeper understanding of their backgrounds, philosophies regarding para- transit management, and the types of skills that they feel are needed to be truly effective. The individuals selected for the profiles were also asked to identify training resources that they found to be most effective and, if applicable, to describe what “excites” them about a career in paratransit. Based on the survey results, the following are some of the key conclusions of the synthesis. • In reviewing the current requirements to be a paratransit manager: – A majority of paratransit manager positions for all types and sizes of agencies required a college degree or higher (66%). – Most agencies (75%) required five years or less of experience, including supervisory experience, to qualify for the position. – Starting salaries for paratransit managers varied considerably, with $40,000–$49,000 being the most frequently cited range (27%), followed by $75,000–$99,000 (17%). As would be expected, the lowest starting salaries were at rural and small agencies and the highest were at the large agencies. – Technology was the most often reported as a necessary skill for a paratransit manager (38%), followed by knowledge of ADA (31%) and business/management (31%). • The survey responses on the actual experience of current paratransit managers reveal that: – A substantial majority of current paratransit managers (69%) had college degrees or higher. A much higher percentage of current paratransit managers had graduate degrees than undergraduate degrees (50% versus 19%). This was consistent with the education requirements found in the position descriptions. – The major areas of study by the paratransit managers were business/management (32%), followed by “other” (32%) and public administration (28%). – Most paratransit managers had been in their current positions for five years or less (62% total). Only 15% of the paratransit managers had been in their current position for more than ten years. – Current paratransit managers had considerably more experience than the position description required, with 42% having more than ten years of passenger transportation experience before taking his/her current position and another 27% having five to ten years of experience. – Current paratransit managers reported salaries that were significantly higher than the starting salary stated for the position. More than 45% of current managers reported salaries of $75,000 or more, whereas only 23% of the position descriptions contained starting salaries of $75,000 or more. – A majority of current paratransit managers were hired externally for their positions (58%), and a significant number were either hired externally or promoted internally without paratransit experience (38%). 2

– A slight majority of current paratransit managers (52%) stated that it was the “challenge” that attracted them to the position, whereas only 8% mentioned that it was the pay. – The skills for which current paratransit managers had received training in the past five years included customer service, management and supervision, and preventing sexual harassment (31.7%); performance evaluations (27%); sensitivity skills (25%); and team building (25%). – Of the current paratransit managers surveyed, 32% had attended or participated in workshops and panels on paratransit topics at the CTAA Annual Expo. – Of the current paratransit managers surveyed, 14% had participated in the Mobility Planning Services Institute provided by ESPA. – Fourteen percent of the current paratransit managers surveyed had participated in the CTAA course on Passenger Service and Safety and 11% had participated in the CTAA Certified Community Transit Management course. – Current paratransit managers reported little attendance at or participation in TRB- sponsored conferences. – Fifty percent of the current paratransit managers had attended or participated in an APTA Bus and Paratransit Conference and 25% had attended an APTA annual meeting. – Only 8% of the current paratransit managers had enrolled in a transportation degree program at a U.S.DOT-sponsored University Transportation Center. – A considerable number of current paratransit managers reported making $75,000 or more (46%), but several (27%) were making $49,999 or less. • The survey results on the importance of a paratransit manager having certain skills show that: – Paratransit driving, paratransit reservationist, and manual scheduling were viewed as not very important. – Dealing with the media, computerized scheduling, safe driving practices, labor relations, and affirmative action were viewed as very important to a slight majority of respondents. – Working with boards, written communications, oral communications, sensitivity, management and supervision, ethics, and customer relations were deemed to be very important to an overwhelming majority of respondents. • In reviewing the survey results on what kinds of additional skills and training paratran- sit managers should have to improve their effectiveness: – Total Quality Management was the most requested additional skill (50%). – Managing the cost of paratransit services was the most requested type of training (52%), followed by paratransit scheduling and dispatching fundamentals (42%), comprehensive ADA paratransit eligibility (39%), and Certified Community Transit Supervisor (39%). • In response to whether paratransit managers should have a college degree: – A slight majority (52%) believe that paratransit managers should be required to have a degree from a four-year college or university, with 35% answering no and 13% not sure. – One-half of the respondents (50%) indicated that business/management was the most desirable area of study, followed by transportation (17%) and public administration (14%). The detailed case studies and profiles of paratransit managers and GMs/CEOs confirmed the conclusions of the synthesis survey. These case studies and profiles offered a range of per- spectives from “new” to the more experienced that were from different size and agency types. The paratransit manager position is relatively new at public transportation agencies and the survey results do not appear to show a consistent career path to becoming a paratransit manager. The survey results show that the current paratransit manager is highly educated and has passenger transportation experience but is almost always new to the current position, has 3

little or no paratransit experience, and is not highly compensated. He or she took the job for the challenge and not the pay or the status of the position. Interestingly, the position descrip- tions for paratransit manager most consistently have technology and knowledge of ADA as the most necessary skills to have; however, most paratransit managers do not believe that those skills are as important to their success as ethics, customer relations, communications, management and supervision, and sensitivity. It appears that most paratransit managers receive their training on the job and not through any well-defined educational curriculum or industry-provided training. Although paratransit operations are very different from fixed- route public transit, most paratransit managers at fixed-route systems report to the chief operating officer or subordinate who has his or her roots in fixed-route operations. 4

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TRB's Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Synthesis 71: Paratransit Manager's Skills, Qualifications, and Needs examines current requirements for being a paratransit manager and actual experiences of current paratransit managers in their positions. The synthesis is designed to help enhance the paratransit management profession and paratransit service delivery.

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