Special Report 258

Transportation Research Board ▶ National Research Council

Contracting for Bus and Demand-Responsive Transit Services

A Survey of U.S. Practice and Experience

Committee for a Study of Contracting Out Transit Services

National Academy Press
Washington, D.C.
2001



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Contracting for Bus and Demand-Responsive Transit Services: A Survey of U.S. Practice and Experience Special Report 258 Transportation Research Board ▶ National Research Council Contracting for Bus and Demand-Responsive Transit Services A Survey of U.S. Practice and Experience Committee for a Study of Contracting Out Transit Services National Academy Press Washington, D.C. 2001

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Contracting for Bus and Demand-Responsive Transit Services: A Survey of U.S. Practice and Experience Transportation Research Board Special Report 258 Subscriber Category VI public transit Transportation Research Board publications are available by ordering individual publications directly from the TRB Business Office, through the Internet at TRB.org (national-academies.org/trb), or by annual subscription through organizational or individual affiliation with TRB. Affiliates and library subscribers are eligible for substantial discounts. For further information, contact the Transportation Research Board Business Office, National Research Council, 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20418 (telephone 202–334–3214; fax 202–334–2519; or e-mail TRBsales@nas.edu). Copyright 2001 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to the procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. This report was sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Contracting for bus and demand-responsive transit services: a survey of U.S. practice and experience/Committee for a Study of Contracting Out Transit Services. p. cm.—(Special report; 258) ISBN 0-309-07205-0 1. Local transit—United States. 2. Buses—United States. 3. Privatization—United States. I. National Research Council (U.S.). Transportation Research Board. Committee for a Study of Contracting Out Transit Services. II. Special report (National Research Council (U.S.). Transportation Research Board); 258. HE4451 .C66 2001 388.4'1322'0973–dc21 2001052030

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Contracting for Bus and Demand-Responsive Transit Services: A Survey of U.S. Practice and Experience THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine National Academy of Sciences National Academy of Engineering Institute of Medicine National Research Council The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M.Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. TheNational Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A.Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I.Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both the Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M.Alberts and Dr. William A.Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. The Transportation Research Board is a unit of the National Research Council, which serves the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. The Board’s mission is to promote innovation and progress in transportation by stimulating and conducting research, facilitating the dissemination of information, and encouraging the implementation of research results. The Board’s varied activities annually engage more than 4,000 engineers, scientists, and other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the public interest. The program is supported by state transportation departments, federal agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other organizations and individuals interested in the development of transportation.

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Contracting for Bus and Demand-Responsive Transit Services: A Survey of U.S. Practice and Experience This page in the original is blank.

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Contracting for Bus and Demand-Responsive Transit Services: A Survey of U.S. Practice and Experience Committee for a Study of Contracting Out Transit Services German Gilbert, Chair, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater J.Barry Barker, Transit Authority of River City, Louisville, Kentucky Santo A.Grande, Delmarva Community Services, Inc., Cambridge, Maryland Clarence W.Marsella, Jr., Regional Transportation District, Denver, Colorado James J.McLary, Southeast Transit Management, Inc., Alexandria, Virginia Charles L.Pettus, Sr., Amalgamated Transit Union, Baltimore, Maryland Patrisha Piras, Pat Piras Consulting, San Lorenzo, California Elliott D.Sclar, Columbia University, New York Roger Tauss, Transport Workers Union of America, Washington, D.C. Brian D.Taylor, University of California, Los Angeles Roger Teal, TWJ Consulting, Wilmette, Illinois Nigel H.M.Wilson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge Transportation Research Board Staff Thomas R.Menzies, Jr. Consultants Daniel Boyle, Dan Boyle and Associates, San Diego, California William McCullough, Booz-Allen-Hamilton, Inc., San Francisco, California

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Contracting for Bus and Demand-Responsive Transit Services: A Survey of U.S. Practice and Experience This page in the original is blank.

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Contracting for Bus and Demand-Responsive Transit Services: A Survey of U.S. Practice and Experience Preface Section 3032 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, enacted in June 1998, calls on the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Research Council (NRC) to conduct a study of the effects of contracting out by public transit agencies for operations and administrative functions. The act specifically calls for an examination of the rationale for decisions to contract for public transportation and an assessment of impacts on service cost and quality, availability, safety performance, and labor-management relations. In response to this legislative mandate, the Federal Transit Administration funded the present year-long study beginning in June 2000. To conduct the study, TRB assembled a 12-member committee with expertise in transit operations, management, economics, and policy. Following NRC practice, the committee members served in the public interest without compensation. Gorman Gilbert, Head of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director of the Transportation Center at Oklahoma State University, chaired the committee. In conducting this study, the committee undertook a nationwide survey of public transit agencies and their general managers. More than 500 agencies received the survey questionnaire and more than half completed it, including many that do not currently contract for transit services. The survey consisted of two parts. In the first part, agency respondents provided information

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Contracting for Bus and Demand-Responsive Transit Services: A Survey of U.S. Practice and Experience on their contracts and contracting programs. In the second part, general managers explained why their agencies do or do not contract out for transit services and assessed their experiences, both positive and negative, with contracting. To enlarge and enrich its source of information, the committee also interviewed local labor representatives, transit managers, contractors, and elected officials in five communities. These individuals offered their opinions on the advantages and disadvantages of contracting. The committee’s analyses of the survey and interview results served as the basis for most of the study findings and conclusions. Tabulations of the responses to the survey questions are provided in Appendix C (Survey Part 1) and Appendix D (Survey Part 2). In addition, a file containing the survey data records will be posted on the TRB website. The committee convened five times. Most of these meetings were open to the public. During these sessions, Robert Molofsky, General Counsel to the Amalgamated Transit Union, briefed the committee on issues of concern to members of his union—the largest representing public transit employees in the United States. Kelly Shawn of the Community Transportation Association of America explained the challenges faced by small and rural communities in providing and procuring public transportation services. Richard Clair, President of First Transit, and Timothy B.Collins, then Executive Vice President of Coach USA Transit Services and now Senior Vice President of ATC/Vancom, discussed their companies’ experiences in supplying bus and paratransit services in communities across the country. Harold Morgan, Director of Research and Education for the Taxicab, Limousine, and Paratransit Association, described how the members of his organization supply public transportation and the issues they face in doing so. Richard Steinmann, Director of the Office of Policy Development in the Federal Transit Administration, attended most of the committee meetings and offered assistance throughout the study. Greg Hull, Director of Operations, Safety, and Security Programs for the American Public Transportation Association, also attended meetings and assisted in publicizing the survey among transit systems. William M.Lyons of the Volpe Transportation Systems Center provided data from the National Transit Database, often on short notice. The committee extends its thanks to all three for their help. In addition, special appreciation is expressed to the chief executives and staff of the transit agencies that took the time to complete and return the survey questionnaires. A list of the 269 responding agencies (as well as non-respondents) is provided in Appendix B. Thanks are also due to the transit agency general managers, local labor union officers, locally elected officials,

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Contracting for Bus and Demand-Responsive Transit Services: A Survey of U.S. Practice and Experience and private transit company managers who participated in the follow-on interviews, which yielded many additional insights into contracting issues and practices. The study was managed by Thomas R.Menzies, Jr., who, under the guidance of the committee and the supervision of Stephen R.Godwin, Director of Studies and Information Services, drafted the final report. A paper by committee member Elliott D.Sclar formed the basis for the discussion on contracting theory in Chapter 3. William McCullough, under the direction of the committee, designed the survey, which is provided in Appendix B. Daniel Boyle tabulated and analyzed the survey responses and conducted the followon interviews; his extensive quantitative and written analyses served as the bases for many of the findings in the study, and specifically for the material presented in Chapters 4 and 5 and Appendices C and D. This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Timothy B.Collins, ATC/Vancom, Alexandria, Virginia; G.J.Fielding, University of California, Irvine; Karen J.Rae, Capitol Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Austin, Texas; Paul P.Skoutelas, Port Authority of Allegheny, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Mildred E.Warner, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. Although these reviewers provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the committee’s findings and conclusions, nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Lester A.Hoel, University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Appointed by the NRC, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. Suzanne Schneider, Assistant Executive Director of TRB, managed the report review process. Jocelyn Sands directed project support staff and oversaw production and distribution of the survey. The report was edited and pre-

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Contracting for Bus and Demand-Responsive Transit Services: A Survey of U.S. Practice and Experience pared for publication under the supervision of Nancy Ackerman, Director of Reports and Editorial Services. Rona Briere edited the report. Special thanks go to Marion Johnson, Frances E.Holland, and Samuel Bardley for assistance with meeting arrangements and correspondence with the committee and to Alisa Decatur for assistance with word processing and production of the final manuscript.

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Contracting for Bus and Demand-Responsive Transit Services: A Survey of U.S. Practice and Experience Contents     EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   1 1   Introduction   15     Study Purpose   21     Approach and Scope   23     Report Organization   25 2   Public and Private Provision of Transit in the United States   27     Early Experience: Private, Regulated Transit Service   27     Public Provision of Transit   34     Summary   40 3   Conceptual Framework and Previous Studies on Contracting   46     The Contracting Decision: Conceptual Framework   46     Previous Studies of Effects of Transit Contracting   51     Summary   56 4   Transit Service Contracting in the United States: Extent and Practice   61     Survey Design and Method   61     Survey Coverage and Representation   63     Extent of Transit Contracting   69     Contract Terms and Provisions   76     Contracting Methods and Competition   84     Summary of Results   94

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Contracting for Bus and Demand-Responsive Transit Services: A Survey of U.S. Practice and Experience 5   Transit Contracting Experiences and Advice from General Managers   98     Reasons for Using and Not Using Contracting   99     Contracting Experiences   108     Overall Assessments of Contracting   117     Responses on Whether General Managers Would Contract Now, Given the Choice   121     Advice from General Managers Who Contract   124 6   Summary and Assessment   128     Key Survey Results   130     Insights and Ideas for Further Evaluation   135     APPENDIXES     A   Transit Contracting and Privatization Initiatives in Western Europe   138 B   Transit Contracting Survey Parts 1 and 2 with List of Recipients and Respondents   148 C   Tabulations of Responses to Survey Part 1   186 D   Tabulations of Responses to Survey Part 2   196     STUDY COMMITTEE BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION   207