National Academies Press: OpenBook

ADA Paratransit Service Models (2018)

Chapter: Chapter 2 - Literature Review

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Literature Review." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. ADA Paratransit Service Models. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25092.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Literature Review." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. ADA Paratransit Service Models. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25092.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Literature Review." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. ADA Paratransit Service Models. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25092.
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Page 17
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Literature Review." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. ADA Paratransit Service Models. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25092.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 2 - Literature Review." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. ADA Paratransit Service Models. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25092.
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14 National Research Our literature search yielded a set of national and local studies that either focused on ADA paratransit service models and related contracting strategies or included these topics as part of a more comprehensive report. TCRP Synthesis 31: Paratransit Contracting and Service Delivery Models The first national research study that focused on the topic was TCRP Synthesis 31: Paratransit Contracting and Service Delivery Methods (Simon 1998). This synthesis project was designed to pro- vide insight into the operational practices employed by public transit operators to provide ADA paratransit services. Specifically, the research was undertaken to compile information on the range of contracting experiences to date, transit agencies’ assessments of the efficiency and effectiveness of these arrangements, and the factors that influenced their selection. The syn- thesis involved a survey sent to transit agencies of all sizes, with 554 agencies responding. The synthesis found that paratransit service delivery could be classified by direct (in-house) opera- tion, private sector contracts (single and multiple), and via brokerage systems and user-side subsidy programs. In the survey, the least common service delivery method was direct operation (14%), and the most common methods were single contracts (25%), multiple contracts (21%) and a combination of direct and contracted service delivery (29%). Some of the more important themes that were identified in this synthesis included: • As transit agencies continue to evolve their methods for paratransit delivery, the factors that ranked highest in terms of the underlying reasons for keeping or changing their service delivery method were cost, responsiveness, experience with paratransit service delivery, and control. • The use of private sector paratransit providers has increased, largely due to financial con- straints, and the private sector being able to provide service at a lower cost. • The use of nonprofit carriers is limited. • Some larger transit agencies are beginning to directly perform reservations and scheduling. Under methods of contracting, the synthesis reported that 48% of the respondents paid contractors based on hourly rates, while 38% paid contractors based on a per-trip rate, some with different rates for different categories of service (accessible versus inaccessible vehicles, taxis), or zones, while 14% had a combination of rates. The synthesis also reported on the use of performance-based incentives and liquidated damages. Absent from the report were any correlations between service delivery method and contractor payment types. The synthesis also included five case studies in Atlanta (MARTA); Baltimore (MTA); suburban Chicago (Pace); Kalispell, Montana (Eagle Transit); and Washington, DC (WMATA). C h a p t e r 2 Literature Review

Literature review 15 Innovative Practices in Paratransit Service The next national study that included discussions of paratransit system design and management/organizational structure service models was Innovative Practices in Paratransit Ser- vices (Mathias 2002). This project involved a survey of quantitative and qualitative questions in 11 categories sent to 50 transit agencies representing a wide variety of geographic and operating characteristics, with 29 agencies responding reflecting a variety of different service models. The report is divided into four main sections: Paratransit Service Operations, Paratransit Service Management, Paratransit Service Design, and Supplementary and Associated Programs. The section most pertinent to the current synthesis is Paratransit Service Design. Management structure options discussed included: • In-house/direct operation. The reported noted that the most important factor for selecting this service design was direct control over the service quality at the “expense” of the high cost of in-house driver labor and fringes. Other related factors included the perceived objectivity of the prospective organization and the support and trust the organization holds with the com- munity; its capabilities in terms of experience, resources, and stability; the will it has to carry out the mission; and the ability to be flexible and adaptive. • Transportation management or brokerage firm. Underlying reasons why a transit agency might choose to retain a firm to manage and/or broker service include a desire to outsource para- transit management; to lower costs; and to compensate for a lack of in-house expertise, an inability to attract experienced personnel, or in-house hiring freezes. The report also added that a third-party management/brokerage is conducive to a multi-sponsor coordinated sys- tem because of its neutral status and objectivity. Also provided in the report were tables that focused on the advantages and disadvantages of centralized reservations and centralized scheduling with respect to staffing, service quality, accountability, operator retention, operating cost, and start-up costs. The report discusses other design considerations, including single versus multiple carriers and service areas, paratransit-to- paratransit transfers, service mix, and flexible capacity. The report delves into procurement practices such as setting rate ceilings, avoiding “low-ball” bids, minimizing bidder risk, per-hour versus per-trip rates, and market share control. TCRP Report 121: Toolkit for Integrating Non-Dedicated Vehicles in Paratransit Service In 2007, TRB published TCRP Report 121: Toolkit for Integrating Non-Dedicated Vehicles in Paratransit Service (Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, TWJ Consulting, and RLS and Asso- ciates 2007). This project included a national survey of transit agencies that used taxis and other non-dedicated service providers (NDSPs) in an integrated fashion for the delivery of ADA/ coordinated paratransit trips, as well as a toolkit for determining the optimal service mix. The importance of the study to this synthesis is its research on how taxis and other NDSPs were being used as an integral part of a paratransit service model to reduce cost per trips, and to provide an additional resource for both schedulers and dispatchers. The study also drew some initial conclusions about how NDSP contractors are paid, and how the use of NDSP subcontractors impacts the payment structure to the primary contractor(s). FTA Report No. 81: Accessible Transit Services for All Perhaps the most definitive—and much more recent—national study that discusses para- transit service models and contracting is FTA Report No. 81: Accessible Transit Services for All

16 aDa paratransit Service Models (FTA Research 2014). This project included a nationwide survey (198 or 28% of the 674 tran- sit agencies invited to participate in the survey responded) and the development of 12 case studies. Of relevance to the current synthesis, this 2014 report includes a section on paratransit service design and a section on procurement and contracting. The Service Design section covers service design decisions, common service designs, historic trends in service designs, the current state of the practice, factors that impact the applicability of common service designs, the advantages and challenges of common service designs, centralized versus decentralized reservations, scheduling and dispatch, and selecting the right combination of service design, method of payment, and contracting requirements. The Procurement and Contracting section includes detailed discussion of how the request for proposals (RFP) should be structured and what should be included, the cost proposal, bid and performance bonds, and evaluation methodologies. This includes guidance on the procure- ment process, how to organize the RFP organization and evaluation methodologies, along with specific guidance on why the inclusion of as much service performance data as possible helps to minimize risk (and hence tends to result in more competitive rates), why detailed line-by-line costing helps to identify “outlier” costs in the cost analysis, and why bid bonds and performance bond are important. This document provides guidance on whether the transit agency or the ser- vice provider should be responsible for providing major capital assets such as facilities, vehicles and insurance, fuel, and software. There is also a detailed discussion of the major elements of contracted paratransit services: labor; capital needs (vehicles, facility, scheduling software) and whether these assets are provided by the transit agency or the contractor; and performance incentives and liquidated damages. The service designs identified and discussed in the report include in-house operations; a single, turnkey contractor design; a multiple turnkey contractor design; an in-house call and control center with contracted service providers; and a contracted call and control center with contracted service providers. For each, the report discusses the division of responsibilities as well as the advantages and challenges associated with each service design. The advantages and challenges focus on fostering competition, cost efficiencies, control over service quality, flexibility, and transition risks. The report also discusses the most common factors that impact the applicability of common service designs. They include direct opera- tion of the fixed-route transit system, size of the service, size of the service area, and local considerations. Some of the more relevant findings from the national survey included the following for ADA paratransit services: • 75% of the paratransit services are operated by single entities. Two-thirds of these (or 50% of the total) are operated by in-house employees, and one-third (25%) by turn-key contractors; • 21% of the transit agencies use a broker or a call and control center manager with multiple service providers, noting that multiple service providers create competition and hence lower service costs; • 42% of the transit agencies use non-dedicated service providers such as taxis to deliver some of the service; • 43% of the transit agencies commingle ADA and other riders; • 50% of the transit agencies were in the process of reviewing their service design; • 79% of the transit agencies use capital funds to purchase vehicles, rather than requiring their contractors to provide the vehicles (and include the cost in their rates); • 75% of the transit agencies address in their contracts the risk of changing fuel prices; and

Literature review 17 • While 72% of the transit agencies have service performance standards, far fewer (between 8% and 19%) have specific performance-based incentives and liquidated damages that tie to various performance metrics. This report was used in part to help guide the service model archetype discussion in Chap- ter 3. It was also used to help compile the initial list of ADA paratransit services for the survey. Studies of Specific ADA Paratransit Systems The literature review effort also included compiling service model analyses and related lessons learned, and conventional wisdom from various Nelson\Nygaard studies focusing on individual systems. These included: • Service Models Alternative Report (Nelson\Nygaard 2017), prepared for TransLink Vancouver, BC. This report includes a description and analysis of six alternative service models that were under consideration for TransLink’s custom transit (paratransit) service. Many of the graph- ics used in Chapter 3 of this synthesis as well as the benefits, challenges, and shortcomings inherent to different service model elements were conceived for this report. • Paratransit Service Analysis Study (Nelson\Nygaard 2014a), prepared for the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority. This report includes an analysis of the agency’s paratransit service model, and long-term recommendations for a procurement strategy that could lead to multiple ser- vice providers, depending on the response. • Interim Report: Recommendations Regarding Dispatching, Vehicle Ownership, and In-House Service Delivery (Nelson\Nygaard 2014b), prepared for Palm Tran, Palm Beach County, Florida. This report includes a description and detailed analysis of how migrating from one to three service providers and bringing the paratransit dispatching function in-house, and owning the paratransit fleet, would significantly improve on-time performance and enhance control of the balance between on-time performance and productivity. Also in the report is a ser- vice model review of 14 peer systems, 11 of which were invited to participate in the current survey. In addition, Palm Tran undertook analysis in 2014 to consider whether it made sense to bring the operations in-house, and concluded it would be prohibitively expensive. Additional shortcomings mentioned include increased liability and litigation and increased human resource needs. • A Review of The RIDE (Nelson\Nygaard 2016), prepared for the Massachusetts Bay Transpor- tation Authority in Boston, contains peer reviews of six peers, five of whom were selected to participate in the current survey. • Cost Reduction Strategies, Technical Memorandum #3 (Nelson\Nygaard 2011), also prepared for the MBTA, includes a description and detailed analysis of how converting from a decentral- ized to a centralized call center model would produce savings. An estimate of cost reduction stemming from reducing duplicative staff, more productive schedules, optimizing the use of non-dedicated service providers, and increasing mid-contract competition are discussed. Also included are a summary of national trends and a summary table of current and past paratransit service designs of 15 large cities, 13 of which were invited to participate in the current survey. Peer Reviews The literature search was also used to help identify the initial set of systems to invite to participate in the current survey. Several studies in the literature review included peer reviews. As mentioned, the peer reports from the Palm Tran and MBTA studies were particu- larly useful.

18 aDa paratransit Service Models Another peer review used to inform both the types of paratransit service models in existence and the particular set of transit agencies chosen for this synthesis is New York City Transit’s 2015 Paratransit Peer Report (MTA, New York City Transit, 2015), which includes detailed infor- mation on ten of the largest ADA (and in some cases, coordinated) paratransit systems in the United States. The most recent peer review, it includes information and data for the calendar year 2013. Of the ten peers, nine were invited to participate in the current study. Contracting Strategies and Payment Structures The FTA’s Accessible Transit Services for All (FTA Research 2014) and Nelson\Nygaard’s 2017 Service Models Alternative Report with TransLink provide a detailed discussion of the procure- ment process, and the relationship between service models, contracting, and payment struc- tures. The Art of Paratransit Contracting (Nelson\Nygaard 2014c) also served as a source for these topics. This was presented at TRB’s International Demand-Responsive Transportation Conference, in Monterey, California, October 2014; the APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference, in Fort Worth, Texas, May 2015; and the National Rural Public and InterCity Bus Conference, in Asheville, North Carolina, October 2016 (in a pre-conference training workshop). How the Documents Informed This Study The general discussion of paratransit service models and contracting from Innovative Prac- tices in Paratransit Services (Mathias 2002) and Chapters 2 and 3 of Accessible Transit Services for All (FTA Research 2014), as well as the analysis of specific paratransit service models and contracting strategies from Nelson\Nygaard’s TransLink study (2017), together provided a point of departure for this synthesis. The pertinent findings from these studies form the backbone of knowledge to date going into this project. These ADA paratransit service model archetypes and related contracting strategies and payment structures are discussed in Chapter 3 of this synthesis report. Lastly, the glossary from TCRP Report 121: Toolkit for Integrating Non-Dedicated Vehicles in Paratransit Service (Nelson\Nygaard et al. 2007) was used as a point of departure for constructing this report’s glossary (Appendix A). Some new terms and concepts have been introduced since that 2007 report; these were added to the current glossary. In addition, many of the definitions from TCRP Report 121 were in need of updating or revision. FTA Circular C 4710.1 on Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Guidance from November 2015 was particularly helpful in this regard. The authors wish to point out that there are several terms in the current glossary that are not included in this synthesis. They were kept in the glossary, however, so that the glossary can be used in connection with future research efforts.

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TRB's Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Synthesis 135: ADA Paratransit Service Models provides information about current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant paratransit service models and the underlying reasons why specific transit agencies have opted to keep or change their service model. ADA paratransit demand continues to grow while resources are dwindling. For that reason, transit agencies nationwide are exploring service models to more effectively meet present and future demand. This synthesis study explains available service delivery models to date, and documents the way various elements of the service and contracts are structured to enhance the likelihood of achieving certain results related to cost efficiency, service quality, or the balance of the two.

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