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

Chapter: Chapter Two - What is a Paratransit Manager?

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter Two - What is a Paratransit Manager?." 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 Two - What is a Paratransit Manager?." 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 Two - What is a Paratransit Manager?." 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 Two - What is a Paratransit Manager?." 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 Two - What is a Paratransit Manager?." 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 Two - What is a Paratransit Manager?." 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 Two - What is a Paratransit Manager?." 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 Two - What is a Paratransit Manager?." 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 Two - What is a Paratransit Manager?." 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 Two - What is a Paratransit Manager?." 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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7This chapter begins with a discussion on how to define a para- transit manager from a historical and service delivery perspective. That discussion is followed by a profile of the existing background, experience, and skills that are currently required to be a paratransit manager. The chapter concludes with a summary of the actual backgrounds, experiences, and skills of current paratransit managers. Finding a commonly accepted definition for paratransit manager is a challenge in and of itself. Paratransit service delivery options are so diverse that a single title does not eas- ily “fit all.” For purposes of this study, paratransit is defined as the full range of demand-responsive services, including ADA-complementary, general public dial-a-ride, and human service transportation. Each of these demand-responsive ser- vices has a somewhat different but interrelated history. As early as the late 1960s and early 1970s, human service program officials began to recognize that many of their clients lacked adequate transportation to access the services they were providing. Agencies sometimes budgeted funding for transportation and occasionally began contracting with small private providers to transport clients or began provid- ing transportation service themselves for their clients; how- ever, these innovations were generally few and far between. Some local governments, such as Fairfax County, Virginia, provided mechanisms such as FASTRAN for coordination of nonemergency transportation services, whereas others had a more ad hoc approach. Soon, funding agencies began to note the duplicative transportation services that were being provided and began paying more attention to the con- cept of “coordination.” In the early 1970s, general public dial-a-ride became an innovative approach to providing public transportation in the United States. There were significant experiments with computer-aided dial-a-ride systems in Haddonfield, New Jersey; Rochester, New York; and Santa Clara County, California, that were ultimately discontinued, often because the technology was not yet sufficiently developed or they could not keep up with the demand. The concept has continued in smaller urban areas and in rural areas, and has been adapted for use in larger urban areas for special popu- lations such as older adults and persons with disabilities. Demand-responsive service has also been used to serve neighborhoods in close proximity to major transit facilities; for example, a rail station. ADA-complementary paratransit service was the result of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which profoundly changed the way most transit systems provided public transit service. Before the ADA, most urban transit agencies concentrated on their core fixed-route transit service, with only a few systems experimenting with and implementing demand-responsive service. U.S.DOT regula- tions adopted pursuant to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (passed in 1973), as amended, allowed substantial flex- ibility in the provision of public transit service for a new constituency, persons with disabilities. Many agencies, such as the New Orleans, Louisiana, Regional Transit Authority (NORTA), implemented demand-responsive (paratransit) systems to provide service to this new constituency. NORTA implemented the “Lift” paratransit service instead of providing accessible fixed-route service. Other systems such as Seattle, Washington (now King County Metro), and many systems in California and Michigan (because of state laws) concentrated on providing fully accessible fixed-route transit through lift-equipped buses while leaving paratransit service to other agencies. In contrast, the ADA required that public transit agencies provide both accessible fixed-route service and complementary paratransit service for persons with disabilities who could not use the fixed-route system. With the ADA, all transit agencies were required to have a paratransit system—with new rules. The ADA has also changed some relationships with orga- nized labor and with the private sector. Many public transit systems were unsure of how to handle the new ADA require- ments and turned to private management firms, taxicab com- panies, and local not-for-profit organizations to assist in providing the newly required paratransit service. Similarly, many labor unions did not want the new service to interfere with their traditional jurisdiction over fixed-route operations and were willing to allow extensive amounts of contracting out for paratransit service. Many efforts have been made in the past several years to coordinate and improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of ADA paratransit and human service transportation. These efforts received their most recent impetus from a variety of initiatives, including federal, state, regional, and local activ- ities designed to foster coordination. The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) encouraged the coordination of nonemergency transportation service funded by both U.S.DOT and non-DOT federal agencies through CHAPTER TWO WHAT IS A PARATRANSIT MANAGER?

metropolitan planning organizations. Two recent federal actions, Executive Order 13330 and United We Ride (which culminated in the Congressional funding approvals and co- ordinated planning mandates contained in SAFETEA–LU), have accelerated the efforts for coordination of publicly funded transportation services. A recent TRB study in- dicated that all states reported that they encouraged coor- dination and that 38% of the states had passed legislation on the issue. Entities such as APTA, CTAA, and ESPA have been involved for several years in efforts to coordinate pub- licly funded transportation services. For example, ESPA sponsors an annual Mobility Planning Services Institute (MPSI) that brings together teams of leaders from the disability community and transportation industry to share information and strategies to improve access to transporta- tion services in their communities. MPSI has contributed to the efforts of several public transit agencies operating coor- dinated paratransit systems for ADA and some human service transportation programs. Public transit systems in Erie, Pennsylvania; Jacksonville, Florida; and Sumter, South Carolina, are examples of systems that have developed programs for coordinating human service transportation pas- senger trips with ADA-eligible passenger trips. Many rural public transit systems provide for coordination of ADA- eligible and human service transportation passenger trips. A paratransit manager could have his or her roots in tradi- tional public transit; in human service transportation; in the technology-oriented demand-responsive transit; or in the case of external hires, some other field. In urban public transit sys- tems, the paratransit manager is usually a part of the operations department and, in many instances, a “contract” employee. In rural systems, the position may be filled by someone who wears multiple hats. In dial-a-ride and human service trans- portation systems, which are often smaller, local systems, the paratransit manager could be the CEO or chief operating offi- cer (COO). For purposes of this study, a paratransit manager was defined as being the highest-ranking person in the agency with direct responsibility for paratransit service delivery. Individuals who responded to the survey questionnaire and identified themselves as paratransit managers had a range of titles and reporting relationships, including: • Director of paratransit services who reports to the execu- tive director of the agency; • Paratransit operations branch chief who reports to the public transit division head; • General manager who reports to the regional vice president; • Senior transit operations specialist who reports to the director of contract services; and • Director, accessible transportation program, who reports to the executive director of operations. Indeed, the demographics of the survey questionnaire respondents reflected the characteristics of a paratransit manager. Two-thirds of the respondents were from public 8 agencies and the remaining were split almost evenly between private not-for-profit agencies (17%) and private-for-profit agencies (15%). The paratransit manager was an actual agency employee in 71% of the responses and a contractor in the remaining 29%. Although the vast majority of respondents were from systems that provided service to ADA-eligible passengers (82%), almost 44% of the respondents provided human service transportation and 35% provided general pub- lic dial-a-ride. Twenty-two of the agencies (38%) provided only ADA paratransit service, four (7%) provided only human service transportation, and one provided only general purpose dial-a-ride service, with the remaining 31 (53%) providing a mix of the three. Thirteen of the agencies (22%) provided only paratransit service, whereas the remaining 45 (78%) provided other types of service such as fixed-route. With respect to the categories of paratransit passengers that the agencies trans- ported, the results were as follows: • ADA-complementary paratransit (87%), • Older adults (59%), • Persons with disabilities who may not be ADA eligible (45%), • General public passengers (40%), • Older adults funded by human service programs (37%), • Medicaid clients (28%), and • Job Access and Reverse Commute passengers (28%). Most respondents used technology in their paratransit ser- vice delivery as follows: • Computer scheduling software (83%), • Computer dispatching software (72%), • Automatic vehicle location (AVL) (47%), and • Mobile data terminals (MDTs) (47%). Geographically, the survey respondents were located in 37 states, relatively evenly distributed throughout the entire country: Northeast (10), Southeast (15), Midwest (10), Southwest/Rocky Mountain (9), and Far West/Hawaii (16). Nine of the agencies (16%) served rural areas, whereas the remaining 49 (84%) served urban areas. BACKGROUND, EXPERIENCE, AND SKILLS OF CURRENT PARATRANSIT MANAGERS This section summarizes the survey responses on the back- grounds, experiences, and skills of current paratransit man- agers. It 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.

9In some instances, the survey results from the position descriptions were tabulated for the following subgroups: • All, • Small agencies (fewer than 20 vehicles), • Medium agencies (20 to 99 vehicles), • Large agencies (100 or more vehicles), and • Rural agencies (serving a rural clientele). SUMMARY OF CURRENT REQUIREMENTS TO BE A PARATRANSIT MANAGER Forty-four of the agencies surveyed (75%) reported that they had position descriptions for paratransit manager. Education Figure 1 summarizes the educational requirements specified for a paratransit manager, which show that the vast majority of these positions required a college degree or higher (66% total, 63% required a college degree and 3% required a graduate degree). As would be expected, rural, small, and medium-sized agencies had lower educational requirements than the larger agencies (see Table 1). Experience Seventy-five percent of the agencies surveyed required five years or less experience to qualify for the position. Figure 2 summarizes the results that show that 3% required fewer than two years of experience and 72% required three to five years of experience. Small and rural agencies required the least experience and large agencies required the most (see Table 2). The average number of years of experience required by agencies increased with the size of the agency, as shown in Table 3. Most of the agencies surveyed also required five years or less of supervisory experience to qualify for the position (78%). Figure 3 summarizes the results that show that 8% required fewer than two years of supervisory experience and 70% required two to five years of supervisory experience. Small and rural agencies required fewer years of experi- ence and large agencies required the most experience (see Table 4). The average number of years of supervisory experience required by responding agencies was less for rural and small agencies and about the same for medium and large agencies, as shown on Table 5. This differs from Table 3, which showed the requirements for both supervisory and nonsuper- visory experience. 0 20 40 60 80 100 All Rural Small Medium Large Pe rc en t Grad. School College Grad. Some College/AA High School FIGURE 1 Education requirements in position description by size of agency (N = 44). Agency Size Rural Small Medium Large Percent Requiring College Degree or Above 57 56 61 82 TABLE 1 EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS FOR PARATRANSIT MANAGER POSITIONS 0 20 40 60 80 100 < 2 years 2-5 years 6-10 years >10 years Pe rc en t FIGURE 2 Years of experience required in position description (N = 44).

10 Starting Salaries Figure 4 shows the starting salaries for all responding agen- cies for paratransit managers, with $40,000 to $49,000 being the most frequent range (27%) followed by $75,000 to $99,000 (17%). Figures 5 through 8 show the starting salary ranges for rural, small, medium, and large agency respondents. The lowest starting salaries were at rural and small agencies and the highest starting salaries were at the large agencies. In summary, according to the survey results: • Eighty-eight percent of rural agencies reported starting salaries of from $40,000 to $49,999 or less. Agency Size Rural Small Medium Large Percent Requiring Five Years or Less of Experience 100 100 86 58 TABLE 2 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE REQUIRED TO QUALIFY FOR PARATRANSIT POSITION Experience Mean (average) Median Minimum Maximum All 5.92 5.00 1.00 19.00 Rural 4.20 5.00 2.00 7.00 Small 3.43 4.00 1.00 5.00 Medium 5.29 5.00 2.00 15.00 Large 6.33 6.50 2.00 19.00 TABLE 3 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE REQUIRED IN POSITION DESCRIPTION BY SIZE OF AGENCY 0 20 40 60 80 100 < 2 years 2-5 years 6-10 years >10 years Pe rc en t FIGURE 3 Years of supervisory/management experience required in position description (N = 44). Agency Size Rural Small Medium Large Percent Requiring Five Years or Less of Supervisory Experience 100 100 87 67 Experience Mean (average) Median Minimum Maximum All 5.02 5.00 1.00 15.00 Rural 4.83 5.00 2.00 7.00 Small 3.51 5.00 1.00 5.00 Medium 5.07 5.00 1.00 15.00 Large 4.75 4.50 1.00 10.00 TABLE 4 AGENCIES REQUIRING FEWER THAN FIVE YEARS SUPERVISORY EXPERIENCE TABLE 5 YEARS OF SUPERVISORY EXPERIENCE REQUIRED IN POSITION DESCRIPTION BY SIZE OF AGENCY FIGURE 4 Starting salaries in the position description for all responding agencies (N = 44).

11 FIGURE 5 Starting salaries in position description for rural agencies (N = 7). FIGURE 6 Starting salaries in position description for small agencies (N = 14). FIGURE 7 Starting salaries in position description for medium agencies (N = 18).

• Ninety-three percent of small agencies reported starting salaries of from $40,000 to $49,999 or less. • Eighty percent of medium agencies reported starting salaries of between $40,000 and $49,999 and $60,000 and $74,999. • Of the large agencies, 64% reported starting salaries of $75,000 or more. Special Skills, Training, and Certifications When asked if there were any special skills, training, and/or certifications required, technology was the most often reported as a necessary skill (38%), followed by knowledge of ADA (31%) and business/management (31%). Table 6 summarizes the special skills, training, and/or certifications that were required and the frequency that they occurred in the responses. 12 SUMMARY OF ACTUAL BACKGROUND, EXPERIENCE, AND SKILLS OF CURRENT PARATRANSIT MANAGERS This section documents the actual experiences of the 36 current paratransit managers that responded to the survey in the follow- ing areas: • 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. Education Achievement Figure 9 shows the highest level of formal education com- pleted by the current paratransit managers that responded to the survey questionnaire. Similar to the education require- ments discussed previously, a substantial majority of current paratransit managers (69%) had college degrees or higher. However, a much higher percentage of current paratransit managers had graduate degrees than undergraduate degrees (50% versus 19%). As shown in Figure 10, the major areas of study by the para- transit managers were business/management (32%), followed by “other” (28%), and public administration (20%). The “other” areas included English, economics, biology, chemistry, and foreign languages. Longevity in Current Position As shown in Figure 11, most current paratransit managers had been in their current positions for five years or less (62% FIGURE 8 Starting salaries in position description for large agencies (N = 12). Skills/Training/Certification Technology Knowledge of ADA Business/Management Operations Commercial Driver’s License Analytical Skills Grant Writing Communications Planning Customer Relations Supervisory Leadership Non-Profit Sensitivity Training Percent Most Often Reported 38 31 31 10 10 7 7 7 7 7 7 3 3 3 TABLE 6 SPECIAL SKILLS, TRAINING, AND CERTIFICATIONS REQUIRED IN POSITION DESCRIPTION FOR ALL PARATRANSIT MANAGERS

13 FIGURE 9 Highest level of formal education completed by paratransit managers (N = 36). FIGURE 10 Major areas of study by paratransit managers (N = 36). 0 20 40 60 80 100 < 2 years 2-5 years 6-10 years >10 years Pe rc en t FIGURE 11 Years paratransit manager in current position (N = 36). total). Only 15% of the current paratransit managers had been in their current position for more than ten years. Prior Experience As shown on Figure 12, current paratransit managers had considerably more experience than the position description required, with 42% having acquired more than ten years of passenger transportation experience before taking his or her current position and another 27% having five to ten years of experience. However, there was considerable variation in supervisory experience, with 32% of current managers hav- ing fewer than two years experience prior to their current position and 32% having more than ten years of supervisory

experience. Eighteen percent of the survey respondents had two to five years of previous supervisory experience and another 18% had six to ten years of previous supervisory experience. How Managers Were Recruited for Current Positions As shown in Figure 13, most current paratransit managers were hired externally for their positions (58%), and a consid- erable number were either hired externally or promoted inter- nally without paratransit experience (38%). Figure 14 shows that, when asked about what attracted them to the position, a majority (52%) stated that it was the “challenge,” whereas only 8% noted that it was the pay. Skills Training Received When asked about which skills they had received from train- ing in the past five years, customer service, management and supervision, and preventing sexual harassment were the most frequently mentioned (32%), followed by performance eval- uations (27%), and then sensitivity skills and team building (25% each). Figure 15 displays the full range of training that the current paratransit managers who reported have received in the past five years. 14 Figure 16 shows that 14% of the current paratransit man- agers had participated in ESPA’s MPSI, but others had received little or no ESPA training. Figure 17 shows that 32% of the current paratransit man- agers had attended workshops and panels on paratransit top- ics at the CTAA Annual Expo; however, there was little or no participation or attendance at other CTAA workshops and panels. Figure 18 shows that 14% of the current paratransit man- agers had participated in the CTAA course on Passenger External Hire, No Paratransit Experience 23% Internal Hire, No Paratransit Experience 15% Internal Hire, w/Paratransit Experience 27% Contract Employee 4% External Hire, w/Paratransit Experience 31% Challenge Pay Larger Agency Internal Promotion Location/ Company Experience 0 20 40 60 80 100 Pe rc en t FIGURE 13 How paratransit managers were recruited for current position (N = 36). FIGURE 14 What attracted paratransit managers to the position (N = 36). 0 20 40 60 80 Manag ement and Su pervisio nSexual Harras smen t Custom er Serv ice Perform ance E valuati ons Sens itivity S kills Team Buildin g EEO/A A/Title VI Time M anagem ent Dealing with B oards Med ia Rela tions Quality Manag ement Written Comm unicatio ns Oral Co mmuni cations Labor Negotia tions Percent 100 FIGURE 15 Skills training received in past five years (N = 36). 0 20 40 60 80 100 < 5 years 5-10 years >10 years Pe rc en t FIGURE 12 Actual prior transportation experience of current paratransit managers (N = 36).

15 Service and Safety (PASS) and 11% had participated in the CTAA CCTM course, but that others had received little or no CTAA training. Figure 19 shows that there has been very little attendance or participation at TRB-sponsored conferences. Figure 20 shows that 50% of the current paratransit managers had attended or participated in an APTA Bus and Paratransit Conference and that 25% had attended an APTA Annual Meeting, but there was little participation or atten- dance at other APTA workshops and panels. Of the paratransit managers surveyed, only 8% had en- rolled in a transportation degree program at a U.S.DOT- sponsored University Transportation Center (UTC). This was not too surprising because there is limited UTC coursework that appears to be applicable to paratransit managers. A re- view of current UTCs (FY 2005–2009) revealed that of the more than 60 funded programs, only one, the Small Urban & MPSI* People on the Move Other 0 20 40 60 80 Percent 100 FIGURE 16 Percent of paratransit managers that participated in ESPA training (N = 36). *Mobility Planning Services Institute. Annual Expo Institute for Coordination Other 0 20 40 60 80 Percent 100 FIGURE 17 Percent of paratransit managers that attended CTAA meetings (N = 36). CCTM PASS Dispatch and Scheduling Other 0 20 40 60 80 Percent 100 FIGURE 18 Percent of paratransit managers that participated in CTAA training (N = 36). PASS = Passenger Service and Safety; CCTM = Certified Community Transit Management.

16 Rural Transit Center at North Dakota State University, fo- cused on public transit and addressed paratransit management. Several other programs, such as those at Montana State Uni- versity and the University of Arkansas, had themes that in- cluded rural transportation; however, the curriculum offered did not address transit or paratransit in any significant way. A slight majority of the current paratransit managers (52%) had enrolled in or completed a training program or workshop on paratransit topics sponsored by other organiza- tions, and of those 54% had enrolled in or completed a train- ing program or workshop sponsored by the National Transit Institute (NTI). Thirty percent of the current paratransit man- agers had a certification or license in a field (e.g., Nursing Home Administration, Commercial Drivers License, Infor- mation Systems Analyst, Certified Community Transit Manager, and Financial Management for Rural Providers), but there was no commonality among the certifications or licenses. Current Salaries With respect to the current salaries of paratransit managers, a considerable number reported making $75,000 or more (46%); however, 27% were making $49,999 or less. Figure 21 displays the salary ranges of the current paratransit managers who reported. Rural Public and Intercity Annual Meeting Other 0 20 40 60 80 Percent 100 FIGURE 19 Percent of paratransit managers that attended TRB conferences (N = 36). Bus and Paratransit Conf. Annual Meeting Webinar Other 0 20 40 60 80 Percent 100 FIGURE 20 Percent of paratransit managers that attended APTA meetings (N = 36). FIGURE 21 Current annual salaries of paratransit managers (N = 36).

Next: Chapter Three - What Skills are Most Desired for Paratransit Managers? »
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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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