National Academies Press: OpenBook

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

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

« Previous: Chapter Two - What is a Paratransit Manager?
Page 17
Suggested Citation:"Chapter Three - What Skills are Most Desired for Paratransit Managers?." 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.
×
Page 17
Page 18
Suggested Citation:"Chapter Three - What Skills are Most Desired for Paratransit Managers?." 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.
×
Page 18
Page 19
Suggested Citation:"Chapter Three - What Skills are Most Desired for Paratransit Managers?." 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.
×
Page 19
Page 20
Suggested Citation:"Chapter Three - What Skills are Most Desired for Paratransit Managers?." 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.
×
Page 20
Page 21
Suggested Citation:"Chapter Three - What Skills are Most Desired for Paratransit Managers?." 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.
×
Page 21
Page 22
Suggested Citation:"Chapter Three - What Skills are Most Desired for Paratransit Managers?." 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.
×
Page 22
Page 23
Suggested Citation:"Chapter Three - What Skills are Most Desired for Paratransit Managers?." 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.
×
Page 23

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.

17 This chapter provides information on additional skill sets desired by paratransit managers, their GMs/CEOs, and para- transit advisory committee members. It ranks the skills that are important to paratransit managers, GMs/CEOs, and para- transit advisory committee members, and documents the additional skills, training, and certifications that paratransit managers should have to improve their overall effectiveness. It discusses the views of paratransit managers, their GMs/ CEOs, and paratransit advisory committee members on whether paratransit managers should have a college degree and, if so, what area of study is most desirable. It also pro- vides information on guidance that current managers could offer aspiring future paratransit managers. In addition, the chapter reviews information obtained from the surveys on the impacts of the structures, cultures, and sizes of trans- portation agencies on the role and function of the paratran- sit manager and the delivery of service. IMPORTANCE OF SKILLS The survey questionnaire requested that respondents rank the importance of a paratransit manager having the following 16 skills: • Computerized scheduling, • Manual scheduling, • Management and supervision, • Prior experience as a paratransit driver, • Prior experience as a paratransit reservationist, • Sensitivity skills (persons with disabilities), • Customer relations, • Written communications, • Oral communications, • Working with boards and committees, • Dealing with the media, • Safe driving practices, • Labor relations, • Time management, • Affirmative action, and • Ethics. Respondents weighed the importance of the skills using the following rankings: • Extremely important, • Very important, • Important, • Somewhat important, • Not very important, and • Not important at all. In some instances, the results were then stratified by sub- groups: paratransit manager, GM/CEO, “other” (defined as a survey respondent whose position was other than a GM/CEO or paratransit manager), and paratransit advisory committee member. This was done to determine any similarities and differences in the views of the subgroups. Three of the 15 skills were determined not to be very or extremely important: prior experience as a paratransit driver (18%), prior experience as a paratransit reservationist (25%), and manual scheduling (40%). GMs/CEOs and paratransit managers both agreed that paratransit driving was not very important, but differed on the other two. GMs/CEOs ranked paratransit reservationist skills as very or extremely important more than twice as frequently (41%) as paratransit managers (19%). GMs/CEOs also ranked manual scheduling skills as very or extremely important more frequently (47%) than para- transit managers (28%). A slight majority of the respondents ranked five of the skills as very or extremely important: dealing with the media (50%), computerized scheduling (52%), safe driving practices (52%), labor relations (55%), and affirmative action (58%). GMs/CEOs and paratransit managers differed on the importance of dealing with the media, with the former ranking it as very or extremely important 35% of the time and the lat- ter ranking it as very or extremely important 53% of the time. A majority of GMs/CEOs (53%) actually ranked dealing with the media somewhat important or not important at all. GMs/CEOs and paratransit managers generally agreed on the importance of computerized scheduling, with 59% of GMs/ CEOs and 50% of paratransit managers ranking it as very or extremely important. GMs/CEOs and paratransit managers also generally agreed on the importance of safe driving prac- tices, with 47% of GMs/CEOs and 56% of paratransit man- agers ranking it as very or extremely important. GMs/CEOs and paratransit managers differed on the importance of labor relations, with GMs/CEOs ranking it as very or extremely important 35% of the time and paratransit managers ranking it as very or extremely important 61% of the time. GMs/CEOs and paratransit managers generally agreed on the importance of affirmative action, with 41% of GMs/CEOs and 33% of paratransit managers ranking it as very or extremely important. CHAPTER THREE WHAT SKILLS ARE MOST DESIRED FOR PARATRANSIT MANAGERS?

18 0 20 40 60 80 100 All PT Managers GM/CEO Other Adv. Comm. Pe rc en t FIGURE 23 Percent that rated oral communications skills as very or extremely important (N = 63). 0 20 40 60 80 100 All PT Managers GM/CEO Other Adv. Comm. Pe rc en t FIGURE 24 Percent that rated sensitivity skills as very or extremely important (N = 63). 0 20 40 60 80 100 All PT Managers GM/CEO Other Adv. Comm. Pe rc en t FIGURE 26 Percent that rated ethics as very or extremely important (N = 63). 0 20 40 60 80 100 Pe rc en t FIGURE 22 Percent that rated customer relations skills as very or extremely important (N = 63). 0 20 40 60 80 100 All PT Managers GM/CEO Other Adv. Comm. Pe rc en t FIGURE 25 Percent that rated management or supervisory skills as very or extremely important (N = 63). The subgroup “other” ranked affirmative action as very or extremely important 86% of the time. Seven of the 16 skills were determined to be very or extremely important to a substantial majority of the respon- dents: customer relations (100%), oral communications (98%), sensitivity skills (persons with disabilities) (97%), management and supervision (97%), ethics (93%), written communications (90%), and working with boards and committees (75%). Figure 22 shows how the various subgroups ranked cus- tomer relations as very or extremely important. As shown, all of the groups agreed on this ranking. Figure 23 shows that 98% of all respondents ranked oral communications as very or extremely important. In this instance, GMs/CEOs, the subgroup “other,” and paratransit advisory committee members ranked this skill marginally higher than paratransit managers. Figure 24 shows how the various subgroups ranked sensi- tivity skills as very or extremely important. Interestingly, paratransit advisory committee members gave this a lower ranking than did the other groups. Figure 25 shows how the various subgroups ranked man- agement and supervision as very or extremely important. In this instance, paratransit managers and the subgroup “other” ranked this skill slightly higher than GMs/CEOs and para- transit advisory committee members. Figure 26 shows that more than 90% of all subgroups ranked ethics as very or extremely important. Paratransit advisory committee members and the subgroup “other” ranked this skill higher than GMs/CEOs and paratransit managers. Figure 27 shows how all of the various subgroups ranked written communications as very or extremely important. As

19 with ethics, paratransit advisory committee members and the subgroup “other” ranked this skill higher than GMs/CEOs and paratransit managers. Figure 28 shows how all of the various subgroups ranked working with boards as very or extremely important. Paratran- sit managers and the subgroup “other” ranked this skill higher than paratransit advisory committee members and GMs/CEOs. ADDITIONAL SKILLS, TRAINING, AND CERTIFICATIONS The survey questionnaire requested that respondents indicate the additional skills paratransit managers should have to im- prove their effectiveness. The survey list included: • Written communications, • Oral communications, • Total Quality Management, • Time management, • Team building, • Sexual harassment, • Sensitivity, • Scheduling, • Safe driving, • Performance evaluations, • Media relations, • Management and supervision, • Labor negotiations, • Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)/ADA/Title VI • Dealing with boards and committees, and • Customer service. Table 7 displays the results from the survey. The most requested additional skills that a paratransit manager should have to improve his or her effectiveness were Total Quality Management (50%), followed by team building (47%) and time management (42%). GMs/CEOs cited these additional skills as their top three, but also indicated that skills in management and supervision (47%) and in customer service (47%) were equally as important. Paratransit managers believed the top three addi- tional skills were needed as well but by lesser percentages. The survey questionnaire requested respondents to indicate the additional training and/or certifications paratransit man- agers should have to improve their effectiveness. The survey list included: • CTAA Certified Community Transit Manager • CTAA Passenger Service and Safety • CTAA Certified Community Transit Supervisor (CCTS) • CTAA Professional Dispatch and Scheduling • NTI Paratransit Scheduling and Dispatching Funda- mentals • NTI Managing the Cost of ADA Paratransit Services • NTI Comprehensive ADA Paratransit Eligibility • ESPA Mobility Planning Services Institute • ESPA People on the Move. Table 8 shows the results from the survey. Managing the Cost of ADA Paratransit Services was the most requested type of training (52%), followed by Paratransit Scheduling 0 20 40 60 80 100 All PT Managers GM/CEO Other Adv. Comm. Pe rc en t FIGURE 27 Percent that rated written communications skills as very or extremely important (N = 63). 0 20 40 60 80 100 All PT Managers GM/CEO Other Adv. Comm. Pe rc en t FIGURE 28 Percent that rated working with boards as very or extremely important (N = 63). All 24% 26% 50% 42% 47% 7% 15% 16% 7% 27% 10% 37% 23% 23% 16% 31% 10% CEO/GM 29% 35% 53% 59% 59% 12% 12% 35% 0% 29% 6% 47% 24% 18% 12% 47% 12% Paratransit Manager 22% 25% 50% 39% 44% 3% 17% 11% 8% 31% 14% 33% 22% 25% 17% 22% 11% Skill Written Communications Oral Communications Total Quality Management Time Management Team Building Sexual Harassment Sensitivity Skills Scheduling Safe Driving Performance Evaluations Media Relations Management and Supervision Labor Negotiations EEO/ADA/Title VI Dealing with Boards Customer Service Other Notes: Total number of responses = 58. Most requested additional skills are highlighted in bold. EEO = Equal Employment Opportunity. TABLE 7 SUMMARY OF ADDITIONAL SKILLS FOR PARATRANSIT MANAGERS

and Dispatching Fundamentals (42%), Comprehensive ADA Paratransit Eligibility (39%), and CCTS (39%). GM/CEOs requested Managing the Cost of ADA Paratransit Services most often (65%), as did paratransit managers (44%). EDUCATION A slight majority of survey respondents (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. GMs/CEOs were evenly split on whether para- transit managers should be required to have a degree from a four-year college or university (35% each), whereas 30% were not sure. A slight majority of paratransit managers believe that they should be required to have a degree from a four-year college or university (53%), with 39% answering no and 8% not sure. Figure 29 summarizes the responses for all and the various subgroups. If respondents answered affirmatively that paratransit managers should be required to have a degree from a four- year college or university, a majority indicated that business/ management was the most desirable area of study (50%), fol- lowed by transportation (17%) and public administration 20 (14%). Paratransit managers provided similar responses to the overall universe of answers, but GMs/CEOs overwhelm- ingly felt that business/management was the most desirable area of study (88%). Figure 30 summarizes the responses for all and the various subgroups. GUIDANCE THAT CURRENT MANAGERS WOULD OFFER ASPIRING PARATRANSIT MANAGERS More than 60% of the survey respondents took the time to respond to the following open-ended question: What advice or guidance would you offer to future or aspiring paratransit managers to help them be more effective and increase the sta- tus and tenure of paratransit managers? Several respondents offered multiple comments. All of the comments are listed in Appendix D. The comments generally fell into the following nine categories, with the number of comments for each area noted in parentheses and each of the nine categories is discussed here: Attitude (12), Customer/clients (12), Training/Certification CTAA Certified Community Transit Manager Passenger Service and Safety Certified Community Transit Supervisor Professional Dispatch and Scheduling NTI Paratransit Scheduling and Dispatching Fundamentals Managing the Cost of ADA Paratransit Services Comprehensive ADA Paratransit Eligibility ESPA Mobility Planning Services Institute People on the Move Other All 15% 26% 39% 31% 42% 52% 39% 24% 23% 5% CEO/GM 24% 35% 29% 41% 59% 65% 41% 35% 29% 6% Paratransit Manager 14% 22% 42% 28% 39% 44% 36% 19% 17% 3% Total number of responses = 58. TABLE 8 SUMMARY OF ADDITIONAL TRAINING AND/OR CERTIFICATIONS FOR PARATRANSIT MANAGERS 0 20 40 60 80 100 All PT M an ag ers GM /CE O Oth er Pe rc en t Business/Mgmt. Transportation Public Administration Other FIGURE 30 Most desirable area of study (N = 58). 0 20 40 60 80 100 All PT Managers GM/CEO Other Pe rc en t Yes No Not Sure FIGURE 29 Should paratransit managers be required to have a college degree? (N = 58.)

21 Experience (11), Business/management (11), Employees and employee development (10), Leadership (9), Interaction with internal and external groups (8), Communications skills (6), and Training (3). Attitude—The advice of the respondents on this topic fo- cused on the type of commitment needed to work day in and day out in the paratransit arena. Aspiring managers were advised by a number of respondents that the job contains an enormous amount of responsibility and has daily high stress. Aspiring managers were advised to strive for the best service with a smile and act as a “coach” to your staff to build a win- ning team. Respondents also emphasized the need for aspiring managers to be flexible and be professional at all times. One respondent shared these thoughts: Be prepared to deal with politicians and government bureaucrats who do not understand the big picture in paratransit and expect you to fulfill unrealistic expectations. IT IS A VERY TOUGH REWARDING JOB!!!! Customer/clients—Respondents stressed the need to understand the customers, have sensitivity to passengers, and focus on customer service. Aspiring managers were told to “listen to the riders; they are why you have a job.” Good cus- tomer service skills and sensitivity were mentioned numer- ous times in the comments. One respondent advised aspiring managers that “small issues could become quite exaggerated in a short period of time if not anticipated early by a proactive paratransit manager.” Experience—Respondents suggested that aspiring paratran- sit managers must fully understand the business from top to bottom. Some respondents felt that paratransit managers must understand the fundamentals of all aspects of the operation to be able to relate to drivers, dispatchers, reservationists, and sched- ulers. Other respondents felt that aspiring paratransit managers should have a good business administration background and concentrate on being a generalist with a diverse skill set. One re- spondent also stated that it is extremely helpful to be familiar with public transit and coming up through the ranks is helpful. Business/management—Comments in this category tended to focus on strategies for effectively managing a para- transit operation. Comments included suggestions to plan ahead, manage the business as if it was for profit, learn to delegate, understand the numbers, and take time to analyze your current system requirements and spend the time to restructure the service plan if needed. Several respondents also commented on the budget, stating that it is the key and that managers should have experience with budgets. Employees and employee development—Respondents noted that a strong support team of drivers and dispatchers is essential and is the backbone of paratransit operations. Aspiring paratransit managers were advised by several respondents to “know your people and they need to know you.” Other comments in this area focused on the need to develop staff, build their skills, and maintain a positive and supportive culture for employees. This will allow the para- transit managers to spend less time managing staff or replac- ing them and hiring and training replacements. Leadership—A number of respondents spoke of the need for paratransit managers to lead by example; in dress, con- duct, and attitude. Comments included the need for man- agers to understand their role and to establish formal goals and an action plan to achieve them. One respondent sug- gested that a manager must think “out of the box” to be a good leader, whereas others suggested that it is important to keep up with changes and network with colleagues to learn “best practices.” One respondent suggested that a paratran- sit manager should be active in the community and encour- age residents in the service area to join in decision making. Finally, one respondent suggested that paratransit managers should “Ride a route once a week, drive a route once a month.” Interaction with internal and external groups—Respon- dents identified three groups with which it was important to develop relationships: advocacy groups, internal colleagues, and board members. Respondents encouraged aspiring para- transit managers to develop a good relationship with advo- cacy committees and to cultivate respect for them. The focus of the comments regarding internal colleagues was on the need to educate colleagues and executives on what ADA is all about and to make others understand that you are a pro- fessional transit manager not unlike managers of rail or fixed-route service. Aspiring managers were also advised to educate board members about the service and to develop the sensitivity and interpersonal skills needed to interact with the board members. Communication skills—In addition to identifying the need to communicate and/or interact with various groups, respon- dents also had specific comments on needed communication skills. They stressed that it is important to be honest and com- municate good or bad news early and consistently to all affected parties, including advocacy groups, passengers, board members, elected officials, CEOs, and subordinates. Respondents also suggested that aspiring paratransit managers should speak clearly, write well, never dismiss a complaint, and follow-up with each interested party. One respondent even suggested that communication is even needed with a higher authority: “Say what you mean and mean what you say . . . and pray daily . . .” Training—Only a few respondents specifically mentioned training in their advice to aspiring paratransit managers. Their comments included the need build in time to cross train staff and that managers should take advantage of employer-sponsored courses in industry principles. One commenter stated that

certifications such as CTAA management courses and other paratransit and transit management courses are invaluable. Summary—Most of the comments were consistent in emphasizing the importance of various skills that were also ranked highly in earlier survey questions dealing with desired skills and training needs of paratransit managers. Other comments appeared to contrast with survey responses. For example, a number of comments addressed the impor- tance of understanding computerized scheduling and para- transit reservationist duties even though the respondents did not rank those technology skills as very important. Although ethics was ranked as one of the most important attributes of a paratransit manager, it was seldom mentioned in the advice to aspiring managers. The responses on advice to aspiring managers also raised some topics that were not posed in the survey, such as the role of the paratransit manager as an advocate for persons with disabilities, advice on the type of attitude needed to be an effective paratransit manager, and the need for paratransit managers to educate colleagues, CEOs, and boards on the complexity and challenges of pro- viding paratransit services. One respondent offered the following sage advice on the need to operate in a transparent and open environment: “If having a Board Member or Passenger take an unannounced tour of the operating facil- ity were cause for concern, it would indicate something is in need of immediate attention and corrective action.” IMPACTS OF STRUCTURES, CULTURES, AND SIZES OF TRANSPORTATION AGENCIES ON THE ROLE AND FUNCTION OF THE PARATRANSIT MANAGER AND THE DELIVERY OF SERVICE For the purposes of this synthesis, paratransit is defined as the full range of demand-responsive services, including ADA-complementary, general public dial-a-ride, and human service transportation. Because the three types of paratransit systems evolved from somewhat differing his- torical contexts, they could be expected to have differing structures and cultures. Although the size of an organization is related more to demand, it also could have an impact on the structure and culture. An examination of several factors about paratransit service delivery revealed some interesting differences that affect the roles and functions of paratransit managers, including: • Extent of the use of technology; • Type of passengers transported; • Public versus private organization; • Agency employee versus contract paratransit manager; and • Public versus private complaint handling, advanced reservations, scheduling, dispatching, same-day changes, and vehicle operations. The factors were examined for urban agencies that transport only ADA-eligible passengers on their paratransit systems 22 0 20 40 60 80 100 All ADA HSA Rural Small Medium Large Pe rc en t ADA HS FIGURE 32 Types of passengers carried by agency types (N = 58). ADA = ADA-eligible passengers; HS = human service passengers. 0 20 40 60 80 100 All AD A HS A Ru ra l Sm all Me diu m La rge Pe rc en t Computerized Scheduling AVL/MDTs FIGURE 31 Extent of use of technology by agency types (N = 58). AVL = automatic vehicle location; MDTs = mobile data terminals. (ADA-only), human service agencies (HSA), and agencies serving rural populations, as well as small, medium, and large agencies. Figure 31 shows the extent of the use of technology by dif- ferent agencies, as defined by how often they used comput- erized scheduling software and AVL/MDTs. The synthesis survey shows that 83% of all paratransit agencies use computer- scheduling software and that 47% use AVL/MDTs. Tech- nology was used most often by ADA-only agencies and less often by HSAs, perhaps owing to transit purpose and fund- ing. It was used more often by larger agencies than medium or smaller agencies. Figure 32 shows the types of passengers transported by different agencies. Large agencies were far more likely to transport only ADA-eligible passengers (94%) than human service passengers (25%). Rural agencies were far more likely to transport human service passengers (89%) than ADA-eligible passengers (33%). Although the chart shows that the HSAs do not transport ADA-eligible passengers, it is likely because they do not have an ADA eligibility requirement.

23 Figure 33 shows that ADA-only agencies were predomi- nately public (90%), whereas HSAs were private and often nonprofit (80%), as were rural agencies (78%). Figure 34 shows that most paratransit managers were agency employees (60%) and that there was no major variation among the service delivery types or sizes, except for HSAs. In examining statistics on complaint handling, advanced reserva- tions, scheduling, dispatching, same-day changes, and vehicle operations, most agencies performed most of these functions 0 20 40 60 80 100 All ADA HSA Rural Small Medium Large Pe rc en t Public Private FIGURE 33 Public/private agencies by type (N = 58). 0 20 40 60 80 100 All AD A HS A Ru ra l Sm all Me diu m La rge Pe rc en t Employee Contractor FIGURE 34 Agency employee or contractor paratransit manager by type (N = 58). in-house, although ADA-only and large and medium-size agencies tended to contract out vehicle operations. In reviewing the job titles of paratransit managers and the titles of the individuals to whom they report, there is no clear- cut pattern for either the title or the reporting relationship. Rural, human service, and smaller agencies tended to have paratransit managers reporting to individuals who were heads of agencies, whereas larger systems tended to have paratran- sit managers reporting to COOs.

Next: Chapter Four - Paratransit Manager Profiles »
Paratransit Manager's Skills, Qualifications, and Needs Get This Book
×
 Paratransit Manager's Skills, Qualifications, and Needs
MyNAP members save 10% online.
Login or Register to save!
Download Free PDF

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.

READ FREE ONLINE

  1. ×

    Welcome to OpenBook!

    You're looking at OpenBook, NAP.edu's online reading room since 1999. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

    Do you want to take a quick tour of the OpenBook's features?

    No Thanks Take a Tour »
  2. ×

    Show this book's table of contents, where you can jump to any chapter by name.

    « Back Next »
  3. ×

    ...or use these buttons to go back to the previous chapter or skip to the next one.

    « Back Next »
  4. ×

    Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book.

    « Back Next »
  5. ×

    To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter.

    « Back Next »
  6. ×

    Share a link to this book page on your preferred social network or via email.

    « Back Next »
  7. ×

    View our suggested citation for this chapter.

    « Back Next »
  8. ×

    Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available.

    « Back Next »
Stay Connected!