Wednesday, September 29, 2010

ADA Paratransit: Driver Satisfaction

A quality workforce in almost any field requires experience and incorporation of employee opinions about how to do the job well. TCRP Report 142: Vehicle Operator Recruitment, Retention, and Performance in ADA Complementary Paratransit Operations lists pay, workable schedules, the support of dispatchers and management, and installed GPS systems as high on the list of what paratransit drivers are looking for.

In many ways, the report simply lays out common sense management practices that keep keep employees happy, with specific examples and suggestions for the particular field of paratransit services.

A common theme in systems that were identified to have stable workforces was that there was a good overall work environment. Vehicle operators from these systems reported that the organization was like a “family” and that they enjoyed the people they worked with. They indicated that the organization had a real interest in its employees and looked out for their interest.

Happy Birthday

Such recognition as celebrating employee birthdays, having comfortable and attractive facilities for drivers, and bonuses for good performance were cited as important to drivers. However, the low pay was recognized as a key factor in high turnover, which "for private paratransit contractors average 30% per year and range as high as 80% per year."

The report notes that low wages can result in higher costs due to the reduced productivity that results from high turnover. The report has a good discussion of the benefits of better driver pay. A detailed study appears about halfway through the report that measures the productivity benefits of driver experience in two systems.

The report also discusses the gap between pay for fixed-route drivers and their paratransit counterparts. "Wages for ADA paratransit vehicle operators were found to be lower than for fixed-route operators. Fringe benefits for ADA paratransit operators were also found to be minimal, especially for services operated by private contractors."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How Communities Are Planning - Coordination and Mobility Management

Some updates on mobility management and coordination in action:

Wasatch Front Mobility Management Project Final Report: This is a comprehensive assessment of one region's community transportation and a demonstration of its mobility management perspective in planning for transportation-challenged populations.

Illinois website with links to three-step primer on building public transportation, coordination, and service in rural areas. Cool map of public transit in Illinois counties. The website is part of the state's Interagency Coordinating Committee on Transportation (ICCT) Clearinghouse. The primer received a NADO award in 2007.

TA Coordination: Peer Exchanges

The Transportation Planning Capacity Building Program (TPCBP) recent peer exchanges include the Colorado Department of Transportation hosting the Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington State departments of transportation. Colorado was looking for voices of experience about establishing a rail and transit division in a state department of transportation.

A peer exchange on exurban to urban regional transportation planning compared the experiences of a few regions with mid to large-size cities and their fringe communities. The exchange partly discussed collaboration about across jurisdictional lines.

Write ups of the peer exchanges are available online. They go quite in depth and are terrific case studies about specific challenges.

How Communities Are Planning - Placemaking


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announces its five Greening America’s Capitals technical assistance recipients. EPA will "fund a team of designers to visit each city to produce schematic designs and exciting illustrations intended to catalyze or complement a larger planning process for the pilot neighborhood. Additionally, these pilots could be the testing ground for citywide actions, such as changes to local codes and ordinances to better support sustainable growth and green building."

Except for Boston, the cities are all small, at least by my NY childhood standards. (Okay, when I lived in Boston, that seemed pretty small.)

Charleston, WVa, will have its transit hub's streetscape addressed to give it a "sense of place." There is also a transit connection in the Hartford, Conn. plan. There is no transportation or transit TA mentioned in connection with any of the projects.

Placemaking Resources

If you are ever providing TA with a placemaking component, here is a website with resources that quickly explain what placemaking is and how to achieve it. Entitled Livability for All Ages-Best Practices, the site envisions placemaking as a crucial livability component. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is listed as one of the resource sites.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ambassador Blog Round Up

I keep coming back to the ambassador blogs for two reasons: (1) to learn what the ambassadors see happening around the country, and (2) to increase my knowledge of technical assistance through the ideas and information that the ambassadors write about. I recommend that everyone periodically read all the blogs, but here is what I found particularly instructive this month.

If you are unfamiliar with the ambassador program and the individual ambassadors, visit the ambassador home page of the NRC website. There are also links to archives of each ambassador's blog.

Jim McLary - Region II Ambassador blog
Jim writes this summer about the importance of taxi service and an accessible taxi coming to market this October. He believes that with accessible taxis we will have a model for universal design in this mode of transportation so critical to people with disabilities and small communities.

Rex Knowlton - Region III Ambassador blog
One of Rex's pieces of information had to do with the University of Virgina's new TDM policy. U-VA took the position that it not only needed to reduce the number of student and staff single occupancy vehicles coming to campus each day, but that it had to do so in a flexible and user-friendly way. Very interesting from a mobility management perspective.

Roland Mross - Region V Ambassador blog
Roland writes about non-emergency medical transportation for people with serious health conditions and the need to bring medical care providers to the coordination table. He describes the discussion leading to this conclusion in one Ohio region.

Margi Ness - Region VII Ambassador blog
Margi has instituted monthly regional conference calls. After the first call she formed "a committee with one person from each state to help plan the calls and work on the continuing dialogue" as well as offer different informed perspectives. Margi's first call featured mobility managers and mobility management resources.

Jeanne Erickson - Region VIII Ambassador blog
Jeanne writes about the success of All Points Transit in Montrose, Colo. and how leadership, coordination and smart utilization of funding has led to a tremendous increase in the number of rides.