contracting decisions and their effects, such as transit board members, union officials, and private contractors. As a practical matter, however, the development and administration of such an extensive and multifaceted survey was not possible. Therefore, to supplement the responses of the general managers, several follow-on telephone interviews were conducted with transit general managers, contractors, union leaders, transit board members, and public officials from five transit systems (see Box 5–1). The information and insights gleaned from these interviews proved to be helpful in analyzing the general managers’ responses.
The collective results of the survey of general managers should thus be regarded as reflecting one important perspective on contracting decisions and outcomes—that is, the current perceptions of transit general managers. At the same time, however, given the variation in circumstances from one transit system to another, the large number of survey responses provides a mix of viewpoints and appraisals. The responses offer much insight into why some systems contract and others do not, how contracting has engendered both positive and negative reactions, and what steps have been taken to make contracting work better.
Finally, it is important to note that some of the questions in the general manager survey did not distinguish between fixed-route and demand-responsive services. When the survey results can be disaggregated by these service types, however, they are presented this way. Furthermore, some of the questions asked the general managers to make judgments about closely related aspects of service, such as effects of contracting on operating costs and cost-efficiency, or on employee turnover and workforce retention. As a practical matter there can be little, if any, difference between such response categories; however, as many variants as possible were offered because of the potential for multiple interpretations. By and large, the responses did not vary among related response categories.
The survey respondents included general managers of 144 transit systems that currently contract for demand-responsive or bus services, or both, as well as general managers of 93 systems that do not contract for services at all. Those in the former group were asked to assess the importance of several possible reasons for their agency’s decision to contract, while those in the latter group were asked to rate possible reasons for their agency’s choosing not to contract.