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CASE STUDIES HILL COUNTRY TRANSIT DISTRICT, CENTRAL TEXAS tages in contracting with gov- HCTD, a political subdivi- ernmental agencies. HCTD's sion of the State of Texas, is board is composed of elected a public transit system whose officals appointed by each mission is to build, refine, county and the municipalities and operate a safe, depend- they represent. able and effective transpor- tation network that provides In 1998, HCTD entered into an mobility, improves the qual- interlocal agreement with the ity of life, and stimulates cities of Copperas Cove, Harker economic development ABOUT HCTD Heights, and Killeen to develop though the provision of ru- and operate an urban fixed- ral, urban fixed-route, and HCTD has been providing trans- route system and ADA para- ADA complementary para- portation in 9 counties of central transit. Three years later, transit service for citizens Texas for 28 years. During 21 of HCTD reached an agreement to and visitors of the Central those years, it has been a coordi- operate fixed-route and ADA Texas area. nated public transit/human ser- paratransit for the city of Tem- vice transportation provider, co- ple. HCTD currently operates The system's goals are ordinating public transit with rural and human service transit Medicaid and senior (Title III) in nine counties and two sepa- · To provide professional, transportation. HCTD started as rate urban areas. Subsequent to coordinated transportation part of a community action the new services implemented services for the residents of agency--a nonprofit agency that by HCTD, the budget went the nine-county area; provides a wide variety of hu- from $800,000 in 1998 to $4 man service to nine counties in million in 2003, a 500% in- · To improve access to the central Texas region. In crease in 5 years. Ridership needed services; 1998, HCTD separated itself jumped from about 168,000 from the community action agency. It is now an independent annual one-way trips in 1998 to · To promote energy savings more than 500,000 trips in through ridership on public political subdivision of the state 2003, a 300% jump in ridership. of Texas and a rural transit dis- transportation; trict. This allows HCTD to act as an interlocal governmental HCTD's mission statement is as · To positively impact the follows: local economy through pro- agency for transit purposes, giv- ing the system additional advan- vision of jobs and revenues to local business; and 17
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CASE STUDIES HILL COUNTRY TRANSIT DISTRICT, CENTRAL TEXAS · To maximize transportation public transit funding when it ment to this change was to en- service per dollar spent. became available; when the able HCTD to become an inter- agency finally decided to delve local government agency, al- How Is HCTD Different? into public transportation, it lowing HCTD to enter into con- started slowly and cautiously, tractual relationships with mu- still attempting to emphasize its nicipalities and counties. HCTD is different from many own needs. other rural systems because of HCTD realized that Bell its size (nine counties) and its The Texas legislature passed County (Temple and Killeen) combination of rural and two legislation in 1995 that desig- was growing rapidly and was small urban transit systems of nated the existing rural (Section becoming two separate urban- Temple and Killeen and its sur- 5311) transit operators as rural ized areas for transit purposes. rounding cities. HCTD has been transit districts (RTDs). As part Temple had already pursued identified as one of the more of this legislation, HCTD was public transit funding and con- innovative systems in the state. able to act as an interlocal tracted for paratransit service. Staff are used to change and do- agency while continuing its However, Killeen had not pur- ing things differently. For exam- nonprofit corporate status, pro- sued any FTA funding. In 1998, ple, HCTD has had a dedicated vided that it became a separate HCTD initiated discussions safety and training manager for corporate entity and not a part with the Texas Department of many years, when many larger of a community action agency. Transportation (TxDOT) and systems did not even fully train This was the next step for the cities of Killeen, Harker their drivers. It conducts a re- HCTD. In 1998 the system, Heights, and Copperas Cove for gional bus rodeo every year that which had grown to 50 vehi- the purpose of funding and op- includes the participation of cles, separated the transit sys- erating public transportation in many neighboring systems. This tem from the community action the Killeen urban area. It should rodeo has become a tradition in agency while retaining some be noted that Killeen is the central Texas. HCTD has also ties (limited administrative home to Fort Hood, one of the successfully recruited manage- functions). In 1998, HCTD largest military bases in the ment from a large urban transit system, which is very unusual for a rural transit system. The fact that HCTD even thought about operating a small urban system (let alone operate two) demonstrates that management and staff are not fearful of change and are willing and able to embrace the new paradigms. The Progression from the Previous Role As part of a community action went from a rural nonprofit world. Through an agreement agency, HCTD was initially agency to an RTD. HCTD had with the three cities, HCTD re- formed prior to Section 5311 its foray into urban transit in ceived the FTA and state funds (Section 18 at the time) to meet 2000 and again in 2002. HCTD for the system. With the assis- the needs of the agency in trans- has come a long way from be- tance of a consultant, HCTD porting clients to senior centers ing a senior center transporta- designed routes for the new sys- and to meet medical needs tion program to being one of tem and the designated recipi- through Older Americans Act the largest rural transit systems ent for FTA funds. HCTD oper- Title III funding and Medicaid in the state, as well as operating ates Killeen's service as a funding. The agency was reluc- in two urban areas with more "turnkey" system--that is, it tant at first to apply for rural than 80 vehicles. The key ele- conducts all the efforts needed 18
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CASE STUDIES HILL COUNTRY TRANSIT DISTRICT, CENTRAL TEXAS Killeen's service, HCTD, with discussed in detail in an earlier the assistance of a consultant, section, are a powerful force sent the city of Temple an unso- that cannot be stopped. The licited proposal to transform needs of Bell County in particu- Temple's service into a fixed- lar had changed, and HCTD route/ADA paratransit service management decided that the similar to the very successful only choice was to change the Killeen service. After discus- system as the demographics sion and negotiation, the city of changed, rather than lose that Temple agreed to an arrange- service area and the opportuni- ment similar to Killeen's, with ties. Guided by its mission HCTD as the designated recipi- statement, HCTD pursued new ent. Service was implemented opportunities. in mid-2002. Total ridership is to plan, manage, and operate the up almost 60% over the dial-a- As can be seen above, HCTD service. ride service previously oper- has regularly reinvented itself, ated. from human service to public The service was an immediate transportation, and developed success, with its teal and fuchsia During this time, HCTD was strong safety and training pro- vehicles and sharply dressed able to recruit a top manager grams as it became a political drivers. Ridership started at from a large urban system to subdivision. Each time HCTD about 600 one-way, fixed-route serve as Director of Urban Op- has reinvented itself, it has im- trips daily (about 8 one-way erations at HCTD. This type of plemented a fixed-route system. trips per hour) and 100 trips on recruitment is almost unheard The board, management, and ADA paratransit in 2000 and of in the rural transit industry, staff are accustomed to, and grew to about 1,000 one-way, and HCTD has been fortunate expectant of, change. fixed-route trips and 100 para- to have this diversity in man- transit trips daily in 2003. Along agement as it was implementing ADAPTING TO NEW with this steady growth in fixed- the small urban services. PARADIGMS route ridership, ADA paratransit ridership has remained stable, Why Has HCTD Changed? As HCTD's service area with growth in ridership among changed, HCTD embraced new persons with disabilities on fixed There were a number of reasons paradigms in order to grow the route. cited for change. First and fore- system with an eye toward the most was the change in the ser- future. The board, management, In 2000, shortly after the suc- vice area demographics. Rap- and staff are all focused on cessful implementation of idly changing demographics, change. Consequently, HCTD 19
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CASE STUDIES HILL COUNTRY TRANSIT DISTRICT, CENTRAL TEXAS has evolved as it has addressed paradigms are much easier Everything from brochures to the following paradigms. when the service is seen as im- caps is colorful and bright--this portant to the community and is instills pride according to driv- Community Agents of respected. Effective service ers interviewed as part of this Change means meeting the needs and case study. HCTD also has a doing the right things as an or- very professional approach to- HCTD serves nine counties, ganization. HCTD has done a ward the areas of safety and many more small towns, and number of things recently that training, continuing to enhance two urban areas. It is important demonstrate its effectiveness in its reputation for quality and for HCTD to be active in each of the communities served. effective service. The manage- these communities. HCTD ment, staff, customers, and lo- makes it a priority to understand At one time, HCTD was a hu- cal leaders all believe in the the new trends and the needs in man service transportation pro- service, allowing HCTD to con- the communities. The former gram. Since that time, it has tinue to evolve. parent organization is aggressive worked hard to lose its image as in its pursuit of understanding its a human service program and Maintaining Multiple community's needs, and HCTD has encouraged the general Functions and Fiscal has maintained that tradition. public to use its services. How- Diversity HCTD uses its board, manage- ever, even as the system has ment, and staff to participate in opened up to the general public, Survival is often the reason that their communities and under- it has never forgotten its roots rural transit systems do things stand the needs of those commu- and continues its efforts in hu- as they do. For HCTD the nities. The board is composed of man service transportation. choice was clear: either diver- active members of each commu- sify and grow or continue to nity and includes county judges Critical to the perception of struggle to survive. HCTD has (the highest elected office in the HCTD's constituents was the expanded its governmental county), county commissioners, changing of the paint scheme, funding base through its contin- and city council members. These from white to a much more col- ued efforts in a number of hu- individuals are more than capa- orful, professional design. This man service transportation pro- ble of representing their commu- increased positive visibility and grams and considers this fund- nities and expressing community helped in gaining respect-- ing critical to its survival. A needs. In addition, management looking good is important to portion of these funds may be tours the system regularly, at- gaining the proper image and used as a local match, making tends meetings in the communi- respect (TCRP Report 70). the funds even more valuable. ties, and meets with drivers and Drivers wear professional- FTA funding includes Section other staff. Management is also looking uniforms as well. 5311 rural funding, Section in tune with the community needs. The field staff that repre- sents HCTD in each community further verifies this. HCTD be- lieves that all staff must repre- sent the company and not just drive or dispatch. All of these factors help HCTD understand community needs, formulate a plan, and address the needs in a proactive manner. Providing Effective Service Effective service is all about looking good and being good. Changing and adapting to new 20
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CASE STUDIES HILL COUNTRY TRANSIT DISTRICT, CENTRAL TEXAS 5307 small urban funds for two the hard work of manage- representation, through the separate systems, and state of ment, the system gained management's engagement Texas local matching funds. In respect and credibility for in the community, and addition, each community is its successes, such as in through the staff who for asked to contribute its fair share. Killeen. Other towns and the most part have roots in cities took notice and their communities. This diversified funding allows wanted systems similar to HCTD flexibility in its decision the one in Killeen. HCTD · Staff Development and making and an ability to focus is now seen as an asset to Motivation--HCTD has on operations without the con- its communities. one of the finest independ- stant search for funding. In addi- ent rural transit training tion, the diversified funding al- · Focus on the Mission-- programs in the nation. The lows administrative and fixed HCTD makes its staff director of operations is a costs to be spread out over more proud of the agency's mis- nationally known expert service, reducing costs for all. sion statement and goals. and has credentials in all The goals are stated in the aspects of safety and train- Concomitant to the diversifica- quarterly newsletter as a ing. Management routinely tion of funding was the diversifi- constant reminder to staff attends conferences and cation of services as the commu- and are posted at all transit training to ensure diversity nity changed. Isolated rural tran- sites in the service area. of ideas. Management's sit and human service transpor- recent hiring of an opera- tation were expanded to include · Dynamic Leadership-- tions manager from a large completely different small urban Ms. Warlick has been the urban system is an example fixed-route and ADA service. manager of the system for of this diversity. This diversification protects the 20 years. She has gained system from dramatic shifts in respect as a leader in the · Building Resources -- funding priorities and allows the nine-county area and works HCTD uses a variety of system to reach out to more cus- closely with political, busi- funding sources to accom- tomers. ness, and civic leaders in plish its mission. With the each of HCTD's communi- addition of two separate How Did Change ties. It helped that the for- small urban systems, Happen? mer parent organization HCTD has increased the had been in existence since diversity of funds, thereby HCTD is a textbook example of the 1960s and also had the helping secure the agency's an innovative transit system that respect of the community. future. is accustomed to change. It in- cludes all of the elements of in- · Organizational Sup- · Seizing the Opportunity novation and change detailed in port --HCTD managers and Serendipity--HCTD TCRP Report 70. HCTD is at the have proven themselves had been monitoring the point where the board, manage- with the no-nonsense possibility of operating the ment, and staff all expect change board. There is a high level Killeen system for a num- as a normal course of action, of trust that works two ber of years. HCTD first making future changes that ways. This allows manage- contracted to operate the much easier. Following is a dis- ment to look in new direc- dial-a-ride service in Tem- cussion of how HCTD has man- tions knowing the board ple and then saw an oppor- aged change: will support it. Success tunity to manage and oper- breeds success. ate a newly revamped sys- · Quality Service--Long tem and was able to con- dedicated to safety and · Community Involvement vince the city that HCTD training, HCTD remade its and Communication--As had a vision for transit in service with a new bright discussed earlier, HCTD is the community. paint scheme, logo, and very involved in its com- driver uniforms. Through munities through its board 21
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CASE STUDIES HILL COUNTRY TRANSIT DISTRICT, CENTRAL TEXAS What Is the Result? time. In one community where this service has been activated, HCTD is a dynamic transit sys- ridership increased over 100% tem with a vision for the future. in the past 4 years in large part It has embraced change and due to the community-based regularly reinvents itself. The approach and the ability of the board, management, and staff all driver to represent HCTD in expect change regularly and his/her county. This new com- continue to look at new ways of munity-based approach will be providing community-based attempted in other remote coun- transit service. HCTD's change ties as the opportunity presents from a rural, human service itself. oriented transit program to one of the nation's largest rural/ HCTD is also interested in small urban transit systems with delving into ITS solutions. It three distinct service units is a has taken a slow and cautious model for other transit systems. approach to implementing tech- nologies because it has not yet HCTD has adhered to a number seen any products that would be of the new paradigms that have cost-effective for HCTD's pushed the system to change. unique services. However, man- HCTD works closely with its agement is actively looking at communities to ensure that ITS opportunities. needs are met. The bottom line is that the system is growing and increasing ridership and contrib- CONTACT uting to mobility in central INFORMATION Texas. Hill Country Transit District Future Efforts 2509 West Wallace P.O. Box 217 HCTD wants to focus on contin- San Saba, TX 76877 ual improvement of services. Its ability to expand public service Carol Warlick, will now depend on service General Manager quality, since the service area is Tel: (915) 372-4677 surrounded by other transit sys- Fax: (915) 372-6110 tems and there are no more cities Email: email@example.com to be served. However, there may be some private-sector op- portunities in Bell County. HCTD is focusing on a new community-based model where the rural driver is also the dis- patcher and represents HCTD in the community--an all-in-one position. When a passenger wants a ride, he/she calls the driver's cell phone and the driver immediately schedules and provides the service in real 22