National Academies Press: OpenBook

Paratransit Manager's Skills, Qualifications, and Needs (2007)

Chapter: Chapter One - Introduction

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter One - Introduction." 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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Suggested Citation:"Chapter One - Introduction." 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 6

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5BACKGROUND A Consensus Conference for Paratransit Managers was con- vened in October 2005 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, reten- tion, and rewarding of paratransit managers on the subject. Experts from transportation agencies and associations, higher education, the disability community, and the personnel field met on October 6–7, 2005, to review the current situation and suggest actions. The conference was directed at the long-term goal of increasing the professional status and competency of paratransit managers, as well as the effectiveness of their training. It produced several recommendations to close the gap between the need and the availability of qualified and competent paratransit managers including: • Develop and encourage adoption of a transit manager degree program. • Stimulate the creation of practicum and internships relating to the preparation of future and current person- nel regarding paratransit management. • Develop and disseminate a course on universal design that builds on the concept of one transportation system for all customers. • Develop and disseminate a story of why people should choose careers as paratransit, transit, or mobility managers to assist in the recruitment of people to the profession. • Create and disseminate a comprehensive list of current academic, continuing education, and other training for use by people interested in becoming paratransit managers. • Explore the creation of a universally recognized transit certification program similar to CTAA’s current Certi- fied Community Transit Manager (CCTM) program that would convey importance and recognition. • Develop and disseminate community projects for ele- mentary, middle, and high school students to actively create awareness of transit careers. • Develop practicum for degree candidates to work with paratransit providers. • Synthesize the background and experience of current paratransit managers. This synthesis was developed to satisfy the last of these rec- ommendations. 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 determining 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. METHODOLOGY AND ORGANIZATION This synthesis documents the current state of the practice in paratransit managers’ skills, qualifications, and needs in- cluding: • Skill sets, backgrounds, and training of current para- transit managers; • Additional skill sets desired by current paratransit man- agers and their organizational leadership and stake- holders; • Guidance that current managers could offer to aspiring future paratransit managers; and • Impacts of the structures, cultures, and sizes of trans- portation agencies on the role and function of the para- transit manager and the delivery of service. Information presented in the synthesis was gathered from the following sources: • Literature accessed from TRB’s Transportation Re- search Information Services (TRIS); • Websites of APTA, CTAA, and ESPA; • Websites of various agencies that provide paratransit service; • A survey of agencies that provide paratransit service; • A survey of members of agency paratransit advisory committees; and • Interviews with individual managers or organizations selected for profiles. Because the synthesis documents the current state of the practice in paratransit managers’ skills, qualifications, and needs, it was important to collect information that would be representative of the universe of paratransit systems throughout the nation. It was noted at the outset that there were hundreds of paratransit operations in the country and it would be important to obtain information from as many agencies as possible, given the synthesis time constraints CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION

and budget. To ensure that 30 to 50 agencies would be surveyed, more than 100 agencies were selected to receive the survey questionnaire. To assist in this effort, CTAA provided a comprehensive list of agencies that identified themselves as paratransit systems. ESPA staff provided the names of agencies that might be interested in participating in the survey. The APTA directory contained a list of its transit agency members. The criteria for the development of the list included: • Geographic location (at least two from each state were selected). • Population size (rural, small urban, medium urban, and large urban). • Agency type (ADA paratransit only, human service transportation only, dial-a-ride only, and combinations of the three). • Organizational culture (public, private not-for-profit, and private-for-profit). • Number of vehicles (less than 20, 21 to 99, 100 and over). • Availability of website e-mail addresses. This effort was augmented by additional outreach to obtain as much input as possible. An information sheet on the syn- thesis was developed for distribution (see Appendix A). The notice was disseminated by synthesis panel members at the 17th National Rural Public and Intercity Bus Conference held in Stevenson, Washington, on October 22–25, 2006. The no- tice was also distributed to the membership of the California Association for Coordinated Transportation. In addition, APTA published an article in its weekly newspaper, Passen- ger Transport, about the synthesis survey, and both CTAA and ESPA provided information about the survey on their respective websites, with a link to the synthesis study e-mail address (trbparatransitstudy@thedmpgroup.com) for anyone interested in participating. A web-based survey questionnaire (see Appendix B) was e-mailed to all of the agencies on the list compiled for this purpose plus any agency that expressed an interest through the outreach efforts. The survey questionnaire was then e-mailed either to the paratransit manager or the general man- ager (GM)/chief executive officer (CEO) of the agency, with instructions to forward the questionnaire to the “highest- ranking person in the agency with direct responsibility for paratransit service delivery.” To obtain the highest possible 6 rate of return, two reminder e-mails were sent to individuals who had not responded to the previous messages. All e-mails were distributed with an official TRB cover memorandum to provide authenticity to the requests. A total of 60 survey questionnaires from 58 agencies were completed and returned; two agencies provided responses from two different persons. In turn, one survey from each of the agencies that submitted two responses was deleted from the database. The list of participating agencies can be found in Appendix C. The survey responses were supplemented by follow-up interviews to augment and/or clarify answers to the survey questionnaire. REPORT ORGANIZATION The synthesis report begins with a discussion on the definition of a paratransit manager and then focuses on the results of the survey and other interviews on the current state of the practice in paratransit managers’ skills, qualifications, and needs. • Chapter two provides information on the current skill sets, background, and training of paratransit managers based on responses from the survey. It documents position description requirements, educational levels, paratransit work experience, reasons for applying for the positions, salary levels, skill sets, and job training of the current cadre of paratransit managers. • Chapter three provides information on additional skill sets desired by paratransit managers, their GMs/CEOs, and paratransit advisory committee members. It includes information on guidance that current managers could offer aspiring paratransit managers. It also provides information obtained from the surveys on the impacts of the structures, cultures, and sizes of transportation agen- cies, on the role and function of the paratransit manager, and on the delivery of service. • Chapter four presents profiles of selected paratransit managers representing a variety of types of paratransit service provided, agency sizes, and tenure in the para- transit field. The profiles provide detail on the educational levels, prior and current positions, philosophies about paratransit management, and recommended skills and training resources for paratransit managers. • Chapter five summarizes the conclusions and next steps, including suggestions for additional study.

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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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