transit. A small number do not offer bus or demand-responsive services, but specialize in commuter rail, vanpool, or ferryboat operations.
The survey was mailed in November 2000 to the top executives of each of the 502 systems, accompanied by a letter from the committee chair explaining the purpose of the survey and urging participation; stamped return envelopes were also provided.1 The chair mailed a follow-on letter to recipients in January 2001. Appendix B contains facsimiles of the original cover letter and survey, along with a listing of the recipients and respondents (as of March 15, 2001).
As noted in Chapter 1, the survey consisted of two parts. General managers were asked to forward Part 1 to the members of their staffs most familiar with service contracts. This part asked general questions about the kinds of services provided by the agency and its overall use of contracting. It also included detailed questions about the terms and structure of individual contracts and the history of contractor changes and bid activity. Because the four-digit FTA designator for each grant recipient surveyed was available, it was possible to cross-reference the most recent NTD reports (1998) as needed. Since some of the smallest systems (those operating fewer than 10 vehicles) do not report annually to the NTD, however, these systems were asked to provide NTD data in their response, including current fleet size (maximum vehicles in service) and most recent annual ridership and operating expenditures.
Each agency was asked to report whether it now contracts for any public transit services. All systems surveyed, whether they answered “yes” or “no” to this question, were requested to return the survey. Those answering “yes” were asked more detailed questions on up to four specific contracts: their two largest for fixed-route bus service and their two largest for demand-responsive paratransit services. For each contracted service, information was requested about the length of the contract; basis of payment; treatment of fare revenues; use of performance incentives and penalties; and parties responsible for the provision of vehicles, facilities, and equipment. Respondents were also asked to describe each contractor—whether publicly owned, private, or not-for-profit—and to indicate whether the services provided in the contract had replaced a directly operated service, created a new service, or succeeded a previously contracted service.
Additional information was sought on experience in obtaining the contracted services, particularly for bidding contracts. For each reported contract, respondents were asked to identify the year the current contract was awarded, the number of bidders for the current award, the number of bidders the last time the contract was awarded, the number of times the contract had been rebid, and the number of times the service contractor had changed.