quality. It was assumed that they have a sufficient understanding of their own circumstances to identify and offer reasonable assessments of results.

At the same time, the committee recognized that these respondents are likely to reach judgments based on their own vantage points as transit managers rather than as policy makers, and that they may be inclined to defend current practice and judge alternatives differently before and after a decision has been made. Thus, it is impossible to be certain whether the general managers participating in the survey accurately appraised the reasons their agencies contract (or do not) and the outcomes of contracting. Instead of simply acknowledging these uncertainties, it would have been desirable to control for them; however, time and resource limitations precluded a more elaborate survey and statistical analysis. Therefore, the survey results are presented here for what they are—the experiences and perceptions of contracting reported by general managers of hundreds of public transit systems across the United States.

Key Survey Results

The survey results are helpful in understanding the extent and methods of transit service contracting in the United States, as well as the reasons some transit systems contract and others do not. Although the survey findings do not paint a complete picture of contracting practice and experience, they reveal much about the amount of contracting that occurs, motivations for and deterrents to contracting, and levels of competition for contracted services. Collectively, the survey results show that contracting is monolithic in neither practice nor outcomes, and that contracting experiences and methods are both varied and complex.

What Has Been Learned About Contracting Practices?

The survey results, augmented by National Transit Database (NTD) data collected by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), provide important information on the extent of contracting among federal aid recipients, how contracts are structured, and the state of competition for contracted services.

Many transit systems contract for some services, but mainly for small amounts and typically for demand-responsive rather than fixed-route bus services.

  • About 20 percent of all transit systems receiving federal aid contract for all their transit services, 40 percent contract for some, and the remaining 40 percent

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