National Academies Press: OpenBook

ADA Paratransit Service Models (2018)

Chapter: Chapter 6 - Conclusions

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Page 135
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 6 - Conclusions." 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 6 - Conclusions." 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 6 - Conclusions." 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 6 - Conclusions." 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 6 - Conclusions." 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 139

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135 The following are key findings from the survey. Transit Agencies Performing All or Some Primary Functions Only one of the 29 respondents provided all of the dedicated service in-house. For this transit agency (in Nashville), 15% of the trips are served with a taxi contractor. • The most important benefits of this service model, as cited by the Nashville MTA, are (1) the flexibility to respond to service quality issues; and (2) direct control over service/cost efficiency. • No challenges or shortcomings were cited. Eleven others perform some or all of the call and control center functions, and in two cases (Pierce County and Salt Lake City), the transit agency also operates a portion of the dedicated ser- vice. Of these, five perform all four of the primary call and control center functions (reservations, scheduling, dispatching, and handling ETA calls), while the other six only perform some of these functions. A few of the more unusual models include the one in New York City, where the transit agency staff perform scheduling, and the service models in Atlanta, Kansas City, and Las Vegas, where the transit agency performs reservations but does not perform scheduling. For Pierce Transit and the Utah Transit Authority (that also operated a portion of the service), • Both agencies mentioned that the in-house call centers allow for improved customer service and more direct control over customer service functions. The UTA also stated that with res- ervations performed in-house, it can more effectively operationalize conditional eligibility, leading to reduced demand and costs. • Pierce Transit recognizes that they are considering eliminating the bifurcated provision of service delivery in the same area because of its inefficiency, and because the cost disparities between the in-house and contracted services create scheduling and budgeting issues. For the nine transit agencies that perform all or some of the call center functions but do not operate any of the service, • The most important benefits of this service model, as cited by these nine agencies, include control over service quality, followed by control over service productivity/cost. Both focus on the role of the agency in performing call and control center functions. • The most prominent challenges or shortcomings focused on the use of contractors for service delivery. While less costly, the most common shortcoming mentioned was the perception that level of service quality was not as high as if it were provided in-house. The most common challenges cited were contract compliance issues. C h a p t e r 6 Conclusions

136 aDa paratransit Service Models Transit Agencies Using an Operational Broker There was only one location (in Oakland/East Bay) where an operational brokerage model is in use. • The most important benefits cited by BART was that the model creates improved cost effi- ciency by fostering competition among multiple carriers, while centralized scheduling and dispatching enables more direct control over the balance between service quality and pro- ductivity. The centralization of dispatch, implemented several years ago, also improved pro- ductivity with central access to the entire fleet, after an initial dip and adjustment to software parameters. BART also mentioned that using a broker has lowered administrative costs. • The most prominent shortcomings or challenges cited were the conflicts that have arisen between broker and service providers as a result of centralized scheduling and dispatching. BART also mentioned that the higher the insurance coverage, the fewer the alternative service options. Transit Agencies Using Call and Control Center Managers Seven (24%) of the 29 transit agency respondents retain a call (and control) center manager to perform some or all of the four call and control center functions. Of these seven, four perform all four of the functions, while the remaining three leave dispatching to the service provider contractors. Of these seven, six utilize multiple service providers, ranging in number from two to four, except in New York City, where there are 13 service provider contractors. For these six transit agencies, • The most important benefit was the transfer of risk away from the transit agency. Also cited by these respondents were cost efficiency through competition and via economies of scale of centralizing call and control center functions. Equally mentioned was enhanced control over service quality with centralized call and control center functions. • The most prominent shortcomings were that the cost of housing and monitoring an addi- tional entity could sometimes be significant, and that effecting change could be more cumber- some and accountability less clear as compared to other models. The one location where there is a call center manager and only one service provider is in Portland. Here, the three service providers evolved into one as a result of acquisitions, with the remaining service provider contractor being the same firm that is hired as the call and control center manager. So, on one hand, this equates to a turnkey service provider contractor; on the other hand, TriMet continues to hold two separate contracts for each, allowing them to continue to go out to bid for each function separately in the future. In Portland, • TriMet states that the current model is effective at creating cost efficiencies through econo- mies, while enhancing the flexibility to respond to service quality issues (because the same firm has been retained for both call center and service delivery functions). • At the same time, TriMet also states that this shared responsibility can create conflicts between the two groups. Use of Turnkey Contractor(s) Eighteen (62%) of the 29 respondents use single or multiple contractors that perform all or some of the call and control center functions. Within this group, there is a wide variety of service models. Of these 18, • Nine have only one service provider, while the other nine have multiple contractors. • In five of these locations (Columbus, Dallas, Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Francisco), there is one turnkey contractor performing all functions. In the case of Dallas and Orange County, each of the contractors has a taxi subcontractor with a prominent role.

Conclusions 137 • In five other locations (Boston, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Phoenix, and Pittsburgh), there are multiple, zoned, turnkey service provider contractors. Generally, the primary benefit of providing service delivery through contractors was the lower cost, as wages and fringe benefits associated with in-house operations are perceived as higher, and driver wages and fringe are the single highest cost element. However, this can be a double- edged sword, as a few of the transit agencies also mentioned that wage competition with other companies and industries, especially in a rising economy, can pose a significant challenge to driver recruitment and retention, not to mention call and control center staff and managers as well. For the five transit agencies that have a single turnkey contractor, • The most important benefits of having just one contractor, as cited by these respondents, are cost efficiency through economies of scale and one-stop accountability. Some of these transit agencies also mentioned that competition fostered during re-procurement was sufficient to keep prices down. • Transit agencies with one turnkey contractor also stated that an agency can get stuck with “a lemon,” and that there is nowhere to turn if that contractor defaults or provides poor ser- vice, despite the rendering of performance liquidated damages, which can result in “down- ward spiral.” For the five transit agencies that have multiple turnkey contractors, • The most important benefits of having more than one contractor, as cited by these respon- dents, include cost efficiency through the fostering of competition, more control over cost and service quality, with the flexibility to adjust service, and greater resiliency. • The most prominent shortcomings or challenges cited included the duplication of costs and more difficult role of monitoring and ensuring consistency, and the potential for inconsistent service quality, if not closely monitored. Otherwise, the variety of service models within this group is highlighted by the following: • In Salt Lake City, two service contractors are retained to provide service delivery in the two remote regions and do their own dispatching. • In Ann Arbor, one contractor does all service delivery and does some of the reservations. • In New Jersey, the six service provider contractors finish off the daily schedule and do their own dispatching. • In Broward County and New York City, the three and 13 service provider contractors, respec- tively, also perform dispatching. • In Las Vegas, the single service provider contractor does the scheduling and dispatching and some of the ETA call handling, but does not perform reservations. • In Atlanta, the single service provider contractor performs all functions except reservations. • In Chicago, the three service provider contractors intake scheduling but do not perform scheduling. Use of Zoned versus Unzoned Contractors Eighteen (62%) of the 29 respondents use multiple dedicated service contractors. With the exception of New York City, which has 13 dedicated service provider contractors, the number of contractors ranges from two to six. Of the 18 transit agencies that use multiple dedicated service provider contractors, 13 (or 72%) assign their carriers to zones. For these transit agencies, • The most important cited benefits of using multiple carriers focused on how zones can turn a large service area into more manageable pieces, and increased productivity if the zones are

138 aDa paratransit Service Models based on trip patterns. This also enhances competition at procurement time, as smaller pieces attract more proposers. The transit agencies also stated that the simplicity of zone assignments improves accountability and simplifies access from the customer perspective. • The most prominent shortcomings mentioned were the inefficiencies created by unproductive deadheading and the potential for inconsistent service. The other five (28%) do not use zones, and instead bid the work out in packages. For these transit agencies, • The most important cited benefits of using unzoned packages were to foster competition by attracting more proposers, to create economies-of-scale by allowing bid alternatives involv- ing that combination of packages, and to enhance cost and service quality control through performance-based adjustments during the contract period. • No specific shortcomings or challenges specific to unzoned packages were cited. Interestingly, WMATA’s Metro Access service design incorporates both zoned and unzoned elements. In Washington, DC, there is one zone shared by two carriers, and a second zone to which only one service provider is assigned. Use of Non-Dedicated Service Providers Ten (34%) of the 29 transit agencies responding to the survey use NDSPs to serve ADA para- transit trips. In all but one of the cases, taxis are used. The exception is in New York City, where livery operators (black cars) are used. In five of the nine locations, the NDSPs are taxi sub- contractors. In four of the nine locations, it is the transit authority, broker, or call center manager that contracts directly with and assigns trip to the taxi subcontractors. And in New York, the livery operators are accessed via two NDSP brokers under contract to NYCT. In seven of these cases, the use of NDSPs is more modest, where the NDSPs are serving under 15% of the ADA paratransit trips. The three exceptions are New York City (30%), Los Angeles (39%), and Phoenix (nearly 100%), noting that use of NDSPs in Los Angeles and New York City is on the rise, while a new service model involving more dedicated service is about to be implemented in Phoenix. And where taxis are used, there is only one location (Oakland/East Bay) where the schedulers and dispatchers do not have access to accessible taxicabs. Of the 13 transit agencies that use taxis and other NDSPs, • The most important benefit, as cited by these respondents, is the reduction in unit cost use that results from using taxis/NDSPs to serve peak overflow and longer trips as well to address day-of-service needs. • The most prominent challenges or shortcomings associated is degradation in service quality and knowing the number and location of vehicles to which a trip has been assigned, in order to better respond to ETA calls. Another issue commonly mentioned was the opportunity for fraud, especially if payment is paid based on mileage. Contracting for Dedicated Service Providers Four times as many transit agencies pay for dedicated service based on revenue vehicle hours or gate-to-gate service hours as transit agencies that use a per-trip rate. However, for those tran- sit agencies that use contractors with taxi subcontractors, virtually all use a per-trip rate. This is the only contracting strategy that seems to be tied to specific service models, though. While 40% of the transit agencies use a split rate (that includes a set monthly fixed amount that covers fixed costs, with an hourly or per trip rate that covers variable costs), 60% do not.

Conclusions 139 And more than twice as many transit agencies reimburse contractors separately for fuel than transit agencies that include fuel in the rate or variable rate. More than 80% of the respondents utilize performance-based incentives and/or liquidated damages. The most common metric that triggers incentives and liquidated damages includes on- time performance, followed by missed trip percentage, complaint frequency ratio, productivity, excessively long trips, call hold times, and no-show rate, in descending order. Other Conclusions The responses from the survey also unveiled some other interesting connections while also dispelling suspected connections. These include the following: • In the case of the 18 systems that use multiple providers, there does not appear to be a common strategy about balancing the work among the providers. About half have made attempts, either with the zone boundaries or the size of the package, to have their service providers delivering about the same volume of work. Meanwhile, the other half have one or two dominant contrac- tors with others playing a smaller role. • Choice of ADA paratransit service models among larger transit agencies would appear not have a correlation with the organizational status of the transit agency, nor with what other public transportation services are provided or whether unions represent the operators of those services. • Other than the one case in Pittsburgh, there is no particular connection between coordinated systems and paratransit service models. Future Research This synthesis focused on ADA paratransit service models and related contracting strategies. With the advent of TNCs, there has been a significant increase in the number of alternative services being planned and implemented. While there is a current TCRP project to review Transit-TNC partnership (which goes beyond alternative services to include general public subsidy pro- grams), research is needed to understand how taxi and livery services and TNCs are being used for alternative service for ADA paratransit customers, and to determine (1) to what extent ADA customers are using these services for new trips versus replacement trips, and (2) whether or not transit agencies are actually successful in reducing overall paratransit costs.

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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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