Cover Image

Not for Sale



View/Hide Left Panel
Click for next page ( 137


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 136
Table 8: POTENTIAL COORDINATED TRANSPORTATION BENEFITS Factor Desired or Expected Change SYSTEM CHARACTERISTICS (INPUTS) Number of transportation providers Lower Number of agencies purchasing transportation Higher Number of vehicles Lower Number of drivers Lower Part-time/full-time driver ratio Lower Average hourly driver wage Higher Total driver wages Lower Level and quality of driver training Higher Hours when service is provided each day Expanded Days when service is provided each week Expanded Vehicle hours of service May be lower Vehicle miles of service May be lower Total service area Expanded Number of persons who can get services Expanded Joint purchasing More frequent Joint dispatching of agency-owned vehicles More frequent Centralized oversight and management More frequent Level of route duplication Lower Number of funding sources Higher Total transportation funding Higher One central community information source More frequent Segregated client types Less frequent Limited trip purposes Less frequent Community-wide transportation perspective More frequent Time spent in meetings Higher Level of planning processes Higher 142 Techniques for Improving Current Coordination Efforts SECTION III

OCR for page 136
Table 8: (continued) POTENTIAL COORDINATED TRANSPORTATION BENEFITS Factor Desired or Expected Change PERFORMANCE MEASURES Number of passenger trips Higher Number of passenger trips per service area population Higher Passenger trips per vehicle mile Higher Passenger trips per vehicle hour Higher Number of driver hours per passenger trip Lower Number of admin staff hours per passenger trip Lower Cost per vehicle hour Lower Cost per vehicle mile Lower Cost per passenger trip Lower Community benefits: Economic activity Higher Economic growth Higher Nursing home admissions per 1,000 population Lower SERVICE ATTRIBUTE ASSESSMENTS Acceptability Greater Accessibility Greater Adaptability Greater Affordability Greater Availability Greater USERS' OVERALL SERVICE ASSESSMENTS Alternative travel options Greater Ratings of transportation services More Positive Outcomes: Independence Increased Security Increased Mobility Increased Isolation Decreased Chapter 6 Tools for Addressing Detailed Coordination Issues 143

OCR for page 136
There are many ways Extrapolation of data: Some of the measurements will need to be extrapolated from other quantifiable data. "Level and quality of driver to evaluate how training," for instance, can be derived from other data, such as the service can be number of drivers who pass state tests after training, fewer customer affected. complaints about drivers, and a reduction in accidents. However, care must be taken to ensure that the extrapolation is valid and credible. Simply attributing higher economic activity to a new transit service in an area would be too much of a stretch to be believable without some other supporting data, for example. In this case, before and after customer counts, surveys of customers and businesses in the area, business sales and income records, and records of tax revenues might be other ways to measure how bus service affected economic activity. Surveys: Surveys are a good evaluation tool to measure achievement in areas that cannot be easily quantified. However, a disadvantage is the need to create a new instrument over and above the evaluation measurements used during the general course of business. Another disadvantage is the cost of distribution, collection, and tabulation of surveys. Yet, other than relying on word-of-mouth or the number of customer complaints, a survey is the best way to measure users' satisfaction and overall assessment of the service. Surveys of businesses For this type of analysis, a could also be used to determine, albeit subjectively, whether a new useful reference may be transit service increased economic activity in an area. "TCRP Report 34: Assessment of the Economic Impacts of Rural Documentation: To monitor and evaluate the success of the project Public Transportation." may require creativity in developing satisfactory performance measures. For example, to determine whether there is more frequent "centralized oversight and management" or a higher "level of planning process" may require initiating new reports that document efforts. This documentation can consist of reports summarizing data for the stakeholders or board of directors, minutes of meetings, and products, such as a strategic plan. Considerations For a detailed discussion of Those involved in a coordinated project should agree, before the project these characteristics, gets implemented, how they will measure and evaluate the project's consult "TCRP Report 88: A success and decide whether or not it should be continued. After Guidebook for Developing implementation, the evaluation methodology can be re-visited to a Transit Performance- determine whether the information is forthcoming and whether the Measurement System" methodology should be modified. In selecting the evaluation tools, stakeholders should keep in mind the following key characteristics of an effective performance measurement system: 144 Techniques for Improving Current Coordination Efforts SECTION III

OCR for page 136
Stakeholder acceptance, Linkage to agency and community goals, Clarity, Reliability and credibility, Variety of measures, Number of measures, Level of detail, Flexibility, Realism of goals and targets, Timeliness, and Integration into agency decision-making. Examples Examples of the types of monitoring transit agencies have conducted for evaluation purposes are mentioned in the following case studies in Chapter 8: (1) Huron County Transit in Ohio and Matanuska-Susitna Community Transit in Alaska have quantified a significant increase in the number of trips due to coordination; (2) the Fresno County Rural Transit Agency extrapolates the benefits of driver training by citing a significant reduction in insurance premiums; and RIDES in Southern Illinois extrapolates the economic benefit of transit to the community by quantifying the wages of former welfare recipients; (3)Bay METRO in Michigan and UCATS in Ohio have conducted customer satisfaction surveys, which identified successful coordination projects; and (4) Ride Connection in Oregon documents its coordination in a consolidated capital application for vehicles. Resources Burkhardt, Hedrick, and McGavock, Assessment of the Economic Impacts of Rural Public Transportation, TCRP Report 34, 1998. http://gulliver.trb.org/publications/tcrp/tcrp_rpt_34.pdf. Burkhardt, Koffman, and Murray, Economic Benefits of Coordinating Human Service Transportation and Transit Services, TCRP Report 91, 2003. Chapter 6 Tools for Addressing Detailed Coordination Issues 145

OCR for page 136
Cambridge Systematics, Measuring and Valuing Transit Benefits and Disbenefits, TCRP Report 20, 1996. http://www4.trb.org/trb/ onlinepubs.nsf/web/TCRP_Reports. Kittelson & Associates, A Guidebook for Developing a Transit Performance-Measurement System, TCRP Report 88, 2003. http://gulliver.trb.org/publications/tcrp/tcrp_report_88/intro.pdf. 146 Techniques for Improving Current Coordination Efforts SECTION III

OCR for page 136
NEEDS ASSESSMENT Description Assessing needs includes gathering necessary information to determine (1) the transportation resources available in the community, (2) the needs for transportation, (3) what deficiencies exist when comparing needs and resources, (4) which existing deficiencies need to be addressed, and (5) what kinds of changes may address those deficiencies. This information may include the extent and types of trips needing to be served, as well as organizational or management needs, such as reducing confusion and duplication or improving client access. Relevance to Coordination To plan for and implement coordinated transportation services Identify the physical effectively, it is necessary to know the resources, both physical and financial, that the participating agencies will have available for the and financial delivery of coordinated transportation services. In the case of physical resources available. resources, it is necessary to know vehicle size, configuration, accessibility features, age, mileage, condition, original cost, sources of funds for purchase, and so forth. In the case of financial resources, it is necessary to know whether funds are available for operating or capital purposes or both, the amount of funding available, matching share requirements, reporting requirements, limitations on uses of specific funds, and other relevant limitations (if any). Convincing organizations to coordinate their services requires Identifying real needs determining what needs or issues the coordination arrangement will respond to. These needs may include trips that cannot currently be is crucial to creating served, reducing confusion on the part of clients, eliminating wasteful meaningful and duplication of administrative effort, making more efficient use of lasting coordination. vehicles, or increasing access to funding. Given that coordination generally involves some loss of control on the part of participating agencies, it is important to determine whether or not real needs can be addressed by the coordination arrangement. Learning in detail about these needs is crucial to creating meaningful and lasting coordination. Needs assessment itself is often a coordinated activity. Chapter 6 Tools for Addressing Detailed Coordination Issues 147

OCR for page 136
Methods Relevant needs assessment methods include stakeholder interviews; facilitated group meetings or interviews; surveys of providers, users, and the general public; analysis of data using statistical analysis tools, maps, and geographic information systems; and demand estimation. Use structured Stakeholder Interviews: The needs assessment process for interviews (as provided coordination often begins with interviewing key stakeholders and leaders. One guidebook suggests that a comprehensive process will in Appendix A) to typically involve 15 to 30 such people who can help and further determine what topics suggests that such interviews are best conducted face to face. Depending on the circumstances, key stakeholders may include need to be explored. individuals and groups that advocate for older adults, people with disabilities, and people living in poverty; public transportation operators; local government, schools, and colleges; members of the business community such as large employers; charitable organizations and religious institutions; and labor union representatives. A good technique to use is structured interviews that follow a written outline, ensuring that all key topics are covered. Developing a written interview guide also provides an opportunity to review, with a preliminary group of people, what topics need to be explored. Facilitated Meetings: Group interviews and public meetings also provide a good way to explore needs. Although some participants may express themselves more openly in private, the group setting allows for more creativity. Formal facilitation by a neutral party can help in reaching a consensus about what coordination needs exist. A related idea is the focus group, which is appropriate where attitudes and priorities of the general public or system users need to be explored. Provider Surveys: Written surveys of transportation providers can be useful where there are large numbers of potential participants in coordination. Provider surveys typically aim to include as many potential participants in a coordination scheme as possible. Typical information produced by this type of survey includes numbers and types of vehicles, numbers and types of clients carried or trips made, areas served, and perceived needs. In rural areas with fewer potential partners, similar information may be collected through other means. Information on physical resources should include the vehicles, other equipment, and technology that existing agencies have in place for their 148 Techniques for Improving Current Coordination Efforts SECTION III

OCR for page 136
separate services. Financial resources mean the sources of funding from local, state, Federal, and private sources that are available to support the operating and capital expenses of the coordinated transportation system. Public or Rider Surveys: Surveys of the larger public, transit riders, or Surveys need to be human service agency clients can provide quantitative evidence of conducted using sound needs. If this information is to be convincing and useful, however, these surveys need to be conducted using sound statistical methods, random statistical methods sampling, and the largest possible sample sizes. In rural areas, the most cost-effective method of conducting such surveys is often by distributing surveys on board vehicles. If client lists are available, mailing and telephone surveying can be even more cost-effective and can allow for more flexibility in the types and numbers of questions that can be asked. Data Analysis: Needs information is most valuable if it can be quantified and displayed in forms that are immediately understood, dramatic, and useful for planning solutions. Typical sources of data include the U.S. Census; population projections and analysis by metropolitan planning agencies; client and case lists from human and social service agencies; and records of actual transportation provided (e.g., the locations most commonly served by demand-responsive transportation providers). One particularly effectively tool for displaying and analyzing data is a Geographic Information System (GIS). A GIS is a computer program that allows a wide variety of information to be displayed on maps and analyzed on the basis of location (e.g., transit routes and client files can be analyzed together to determine how well the transit routes serve a particular set of clients). GIS tools are not always within the reach of small, nonprofit agencies, but most counties, transit systems, and cities now have staff with GIS skills. Demand Estimation: If a new or improved coordinated transportation For more information, see service is being proposed, one way to measure the "need" for such a the list of Resources below service is to estimate the number of people who would use it, known in planning terms as the "demand for the service." Rural demand estimation is an imprecise art, given that the large data sets and elaborate models used for metropolitan area planning commonly are not available or appropriate. However, simple, shortcut methods that can be applied with a hand calculator or spreadsheet and commonly available data have been developed and are documented in published reports. Chapter 6 Tools for Addressing Detailed Coordination Issues 149

OCR for page 136
Examples Case studies in Chapter 8 illustrate examples of several types of needs assessment: The Transportation Network in Wasco County, Oregon, resulted from a countywide social service needs assessment study, which included stakeholder interviews. Provider surveys were employed in developing Ride Solution in Western Indiana. Surveys of the public were distributed by the Erie County Health Department in Ohio to document the need for coordination between Huron County Transit and transit in Sandusky County. The Chief Executive Officer of RIDES in Southern Illinois facilitated meetings to promote coordination among agencies. Resources Burkhardt, Hamby, MacDorman, and McCollom, Comprehensive Financial Management Guidelines for Rural and Small Urban Public Transportation Providers, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Multi-State Technical Assistance Program, September 1992. Case Studies of People for People and DARTS in TCRP Report 91, Economic Benefits of Coordinating Human Service Transportation and Transit Services, 2003. Creative Action, Inc., Coordinating Transportation Services: Local Collaboration and Decision-Making: A "How-to" Manual for Planning and Implementation, Project Action, Washington DC. Available at http://projectaction.easterseals.org/site/ PageServer?pagename=ESPA_doclibe_coordandoutreach Establishing Cost Sharing Agreements, in Lyons and vanderWilden, Innovative State And Local Planning For Coordinated Transportation, February 2002 at http://www.fta.dot.gov/library/ policy/islptc/establish.html. 150 Techniques for Improving Current Coordination Efforts SECTION III

OCR for page 136
Florida Rate Setting Guidelines in Coordinated Transportation Contracting Instructions, Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged, July 2002, at http://www11.myflorida.com/ctd/. Koffman, D. "Appropriate Cost-Sharing for Paratransit," in Transportation Research Record 1463, Transportation Research Board, Washington DC, 1994. Koffman, D., and Lewis, D. "Forecasting Demand for Paratransit Required by the Americans with Disabilities Act," in Transportation Research Record 1571, Transportation Research Board, Washington DC, 1997. Multisystems, Inc. et al., Using Geographic Information Systems for Welfare to Work Transportation Planning and Service Delivery, TCRP Report 60, 2000 Transportation Research Board, Washington DC. Available at http://www4.trb.org/trb/onlinepubs.nsf/web/ TCRP_Reports. SG Associates et al., Workbook for Estimating Demand for Rural Passenger Transportation, TCRP Report 3, 1995 Transportation Research Board, Washington DC. Available at http://www4.trb.org/ trb/onlinepubs.nsf/web/TCRP_Reports. Chapter 6 Tools for Addressing Detailed Coordination Issues 151

OCR for page 136
ORGANIZATION OF THE PLANNING PROCESS Description Coordination begins with planning. Coordinating transportation services takes careful, deliberate, proactive planning. Such planning requires thoroughness, comprehensiveness, and including representatives of the agencies setting out to coordinate or to modify how coordination has been taking place. How this planning takes place is important. The process needs to be managed by a steering committee or task force of interested parties. Further, the process works best with defined stages where roles and responsibilities among the agencies and other parties involved in the planning are defined. Planning is the process by which local officials with a stake in successful transportation services come together to determine how the community's needs can best be met and how the skills and resources available to them can best be used to this purpose. Methods The planning process has several well-defined steps or stages, which have been described variously in several transportation coordination handbooks. The coordination literature is not the only place where applicable planning processes have been described. The welfare reform movement provided new opportunities for stakeholders in local areas to come together in different ways to address transportation issues and find solutions. As in coordinating transportation generally, the need to implement new welfare programs focused on getting people to jobs and job training brought transportation into focus and required that local agencies work together in new and different ways. In summary, though, the steps can be described as follows: Organization--Form a task force or steering committee and decide to move forward. Existing Conditions--Understand issues, needs, and circumstances and defining local conditions. Focus, Consensus, and Direction--Agree on the problem, develop consensus, and set direction. Alternatives--Develop and evaluate alternative coordination strategies. 152 Techniques for Improving Current Coordination Efforts SECTION III

OCR for page 136
ORGANIZATIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR COORDINATION Description Agencies involved in a coordinated effort must alter the interests of Agencies involved in a their institutional and governance structure to take into account the interests of the other agencies involved. In order to do so, agencies coordinated effort must need a way to guide the coordinated system so that it continues to take into account the reflect the common interests of the participants. Planning Guidelines interests of the other for Coordinating State and Local Specialized Transportation Services defines Cooperation, Coordination, and Consolidation as points along agencies involved a continuum of organizational working relationships. The governance structure chosen for a particular community would depend on where along this continuum the participating agencies are in their coordination efforts. Cooperation: Working together in some loose association, perhaps focusing primarily on information sharing, in which all agencies retain their separate identities and authorities, including control over the vehicles they own. Coordination: Joint decisions and actions of a group of agencies with formal arrangements to provide for the management of the resources of a distinct system. Consolidation: Vesting all operational authority in one agency that then provides services according to purchase of service agreements or other contractual relationships. Methods The organizational structures listed here vary in the involvement required by individual agencies. Although other organizational variations undoubtedly exist; this discussion provides an overview of the options available to increase coordination. In order to avoid misunderstandings, the parties to the agreement should confirm their involvement by a memorandum of understanding or other such formal document. 156 Techniques for Improving Current Coordination Efforts SECTION III

OCR for page 136
Inter-agency agreements: Two or more agencies agree to share resources. One example could be an agreement to share transfer revenues among operators in order to create a seamless transportation system from the rider's perspective. Another example might be a purchase-of-service contract between a social service agency and a transit operator. These agreements would not involve changes in the governing structure of the participating agencies. However, the contract can provide a clear guide for governance between the two agencies, because it lays out responsibilities. Inter-agency agreements are closest to cooperation on the continuum of relationships described above. Consortium or Coordinating Council: Staff responsibilities for a project are shared so that no one agency needs to carry the entire burden. The lead agency role and specific tasks can be rotated among the members. For example, a group of agencies might get together to develop and implement a joint marketing program. The internal governance of each agency would remain unchanged. A formal agreement or memorandum of understanding may be written to outline the purpose of the consortium and the responsibilities of each participant. A consortium is an example of coordination on the continuum of working relationships. Brokerage: Agencies pool funding to contract with an outside vendor or with one of the member agencies to perform functions on behalf of all participating agencies. For example, social service providers may pay one of the participating members to handle the scheduling and dispatching for all their vehicles. Each agency would give control of certain of its functions to the brokerage, while retaining internal control of its overall organization. An agreement signed by each member agency would set out the terms and funding for the brokerage. A brokerage is an example of coordination moving toward partial consolidation on the continuum of working relationships. Joint Powers Authority (JPA): Agencies join together to form an See Appendices for model organization to provide certain transportation services. Each agency has Joint Powers Agreements. a representative on a new governing board. The governing boards of the existing agencies may continue to oversee other functions of their agencies, but they transfer the responsibility for specific transportation services to the JPA. For example, transit operators may form a JPA with a separate board to provide ADA services but may retain their existing boards to govern the individual fixed-route systems. Or cities may form a JPA in order to give up their individual transit systems for a subregional system, while maintaining all other responsibilities of a Chapter 6 Tools for Addressing Detailed Coordination Issues 157

OCR for page 136
city. A JPA is an example of consolidation on the continuum of working relationships. Considerations Agencies will need to Before entering into an agreement, agencies will need to consider consider several issues several issues and how they affect their own governance structures. The most obvious issue is how to share the funding of the project. For and their effects. example, should agencies split costs based on population, actual number of riders, mileage of the bus within each jurisdiction, employment sites that benefit from out-of-jurisdiction labor force, or some formula that combines various factors? The same types of issues arise in decision- making--should voting be based on population, percentage of contributed funding, equality among independent jurisdictions, or simple consensus? Other considerations may include restrictions on spending the agency's money for services outside its service area; potential diminishing of local identity; effects on the agency's ability to carry out its other services; differences in labor contracts, rules, and salaries; differences in types and ages of populations served; ability to involve the right participants in the agreement; and support within the community for change. A key issue is whether the leadership exists from a person or a group with the necessary commitment to tackle these thorny problems. Examples Case studies in Chapter 8 showcase examples of the types of governance models: Mason County, Washington, illustrates inter-agency agreements between a transit operator and school district; Butte County, California, transit operators turned down consolidation in favor of a loose consortium to coordinate fares, marketing, transfers, and schedule consistency; Greene Coordinated Agency Transportation System (CATS) in Ohio is a transportation broker for 51 participating agencies; and Merced County Transit, California, is a consolidated system adopted by a JPA between the county and six cities. 158 Techniques for Improving Current Coordination Efforts SECTION III

OCR for page 136
Resources A Guide for Implementing Coordinating Transportation Systems, 1997, Ohio Department of Transportation, Office of Public Transportation. Available at http://www.dot.state.oh.us/ptrans/ default.htm. A Handbook for Coordinating Transportation Services, 1997, Ohio Department of Transportation, Office of Public Transportation. Available at http://www.dot.state.oh.us/ptrans/default.htm. Planning Guidelines for Coordinating State and Local Specialized Transportation Services at www.fta.dot.gov/library/policy/guide Chapter 6 Tools for Addressing Detailed Coordination Issues 159

OCR for page 136
STRATEGIC DIRECTION--STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES, OPPORTUNITIES, AND THREATS Description Coordinating Strategic direction involves getting away from the details of a problem or issue and taking a fresh look at the environment within which the transportation services problem or issue exists. It requires (1) careful thinking about what is to represents strategic be accomplished and (2) an open process to develop a more complete change. and in-depth understanding of problem and issues and how to move forward in solving problems and dealing with issues. A decision to coordinate or consider coordinating transportation services represents strategic change (i.e., organizing and delivering transportation services in a significantly different way). Relevance to Coordination The desire to coordinate transportation services typically follows from a key person or small group of people deciding that the current way of providing transportation services is not working well. Opportunities are perceived to be present for agencies to work together to improve and/or expand transportation services to agency clients. This may also be seen as an opportunity to introduce or expand services to the general public as well. Methods Methods include stakeholder interviews, facilitated workshops, steering committees, working groups, and task forces. Developing strategic direction involves taking an open and unbiased look at existing transportation services in an attempt to discover options for improving them. Strategic thinking starts Strategic thinking starts with an investigation of the strengths and weaknesses of the internal environment within which transportation with an investigation of services are provided. An easy way to think about the "internal strengths and environment" is to view it as the environment over which the weaknesses. participants have some control, such as what kind of service to deliver, how to coordinate, and what kinds of vehicles to buy. 160 Techniques for Improving Current Coordination Efforts SECTION III

OCR for page 136
It also includes looking honestly at the external environment that influences how local decisions about transportation services are made. In other words, what are the opportunities that may be available and the threats that may exist to improving transportation services? An easy way to think about the "external environment" is to view it as the environment over which the participants have little or no control. It is the part of the environment they must accept and deal with at a given point in time. Examples would include funding programs defined at the Federal or state level, levels of funding that may be available by some pre-determined formula, and rules and regulations for program implementation. Depending on what is happening in the external environment, opportunities and threats emerge as external actions are taken. Good examples are the opportunities for building relationships and improving and re-making transportation services that presented themselves as a result of welfare reform legislation and program implementation that began in the late 1990s. The first step is typically to conduct stakeholder interviews. These are Confidentiality is very personal interviews best conducted in person, at either a central location important in obtaining or at a stakeholder's office. Confidentiality is very important to enable stakeholders to share their views of issues and problems freely. Personal frank responses. interviews enable stakeholders to make sure that their views are included in the discussion. Following completion of these interviews, it is wise to report back, in written form, to the steering committee or group that is organizing and managing coordination efforts, so that they can begin to review the results of the interviews. The next step, which is crucial to the continued, incremental development of a plan for coordination and its implementation, is to Bring key bring key stakeholders together to discuss issues and problems, stakeholders together. potential solutions, and an agreement on how to proceed. Generally, starting with a creative, brainstorming approach is recommended because brainstorming is founded on the premise that all ideas are good. The objective is to enable all participants to express their ideas and to feel comfortable in doing so; decisions about priorities and specific actions come later. The brainstorming works best in a workshop format, on neutral ground. Typically, a full day is required. Considerations Consensus results from an assessment of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. However, participants must recognize that reaching consensus includes divergent opinions and conflicting views and that this situation is okay. With a properly facilitated discussion (in Chapter 6 Tools for Addressing Detailed Coordination Issues 161

OCR for page 136
a workshop setting), the differences and disagreements will be expressed. Some consensus will be established, but some issues may have to be left to be resolved another day. In addition to reaching consensus, a focus on strategic direction will also provide a list of issues or concerns about which consensus cannot be reached. Maintaining the neutrality of discussions at this point is important. The focus should be on enabling and encouraging participants to express their views. One or several strong advocates for a particular direction at this time may polarize thought and positions and make progress more difficult. Examples In Portage County, Ohio, workshops with the board of trustees of the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority were conducted. An early focus on strategic direction, including an assessment of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, resulted in a consensus that the transit authority needed to seek voter support for a sales tax so that an acceptable level of public transportation services could be offered. In Youngstown, Ohio, a series of workshops and facilitated steering committee meetings resulted in the development and adoption by county commissioners of a service plan for countywide coordination of transportation services. Development of consensus on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats resulted in consensus that coordinated transportation services should be implemented under the umbrella of the Mahoning County Commissioners, with the Western Reserve Transit Authority being the lead agency in implementing coordinated transportation services. Resources A Guide for Implementing Coordinating Transportation Systems, 1997, Ohio Department of Transportation, Office of Public Transportation. Available at http://www.dot.state.oh.us/ptrans/ default.htm. A Handbook for Coordinating Transportation Services, 1997, Ohio Department of Transportation, Office of Public Transportation. Available at http://www.dot.state.oh.us/ptrans/default.htm. 162 Techniques for Improving Current Coordination Efforts SECTION III

OCR for page 136
Creative Action, Inc., Coordinating Transportation Services: Local Collaboration and Decision-Making: A "How-to" Manual for Planning and Implementation, Project Action, Washington DC, 2001. Available at http://projectaction.easter-seals.org/site/ PageServer?pagename=ESPA_doclibe_coordandoutreach. Creative Action, Inc., Project Technical Report, Model Procedures for Coordination Among Transportation Providers Transportation Services: Local Collaboration and Decision-Making: The Key Role of Local Collaboration and Decision-Making, Project Action, Washington DC, 1998. Available at Easter Seals Project Action, 202-347-3066. Planning Guidelines for Coordinating State and Local Specialized Transportation Services at http://www.fta.dot.gov/library/ policy/guide/. Chapter 6 Tools for Addressing Detailed Coordination Issues 163

OCR for page 136
TECHNOLOGY Description Some technologies New technology is a "hot topic" in transportation circles. Some offer real promise to technologies offer real promise to rural and small urban transportation operators. Scheduling, vehicle location, fare payment, billing, rural and small urban maintenance, and passenger information functions all could be aided by transportation one or more forms of technology. operators. The technologies that most often will yield significant benefits to rural transportation agencies are as follows: Fleet Management, including Communications systems, Geographic information systems (GIS), Automatic vehicle location (AVL) systems, and Operations software; Systems Management, including Financial management and accounting software; Traveler Information, including Pre-trip information systems, In-terminal/wayside information systems, In-vehicle information systems, Multimodal traveler information systems, Electronic fare payment, and Other technologies, such as automated service coordination. The following technologies most often yield the most significant benefits: Communications systems and services, particularly those that provide real-time communication between vehicle operators and 164 Techniques for Improving Current Coordination Efforts SECTION III

OCR for page 136
dispatchers, can improve operational efficiency. Further, there can be an improvement in driver performance as a result of improved and available information on travel conditions and other factors. AVL systems can Improve operational efficiency, Improve quality of service, Improve use of resources, Improve service effectiveness, and Provide better modal integration. Operations software, which includes automated scheduling and dispatching systems, can Improve operational efficiency; Increase the number of vehicle trips; Improve the use of resources; Improve operational effectiveness; Increase ridership; Provide better modal, transit agency, and service integration; Increase mobility for transit customers; More readily accept service modifications; and Create better working conditions for transit agency personnel. Automated service coordination, which involves the integration and coordination of transportation services offered by multiple providers, can improve operational efficiency and effectiveness; provide better modal, transit operator, and service integration; and increase ridership. Systems management: Computer-aided accounting programs are particularly applicable to reporting to the multiple funding sources, which are often stitched together by entrepreneurial rural transit operators to obtain sufficient funds to make the entire operation viable. Possibilities for intelligent transit Chapter 6 Tools for Addressing Detailed Coordination Issues 165

OCR for page 136
management at both the state and local levels will be greatly enhanced by software that can describe current performance in depth and compare it with previous operations of the same system and current operations of other systems. With this added level of detail, system managers can make better operational decisions, and state program managers can better decide how to distribute their funds and technical assistance. The computer technology to make this happen is available now, but is not in widespread application. The effectiveness of It is important to remember that the effectiveness of any technology is directly related to the type of transit service to which it is being applied. any technology is In rural transit settings, often several types of service must be directly related to the considered. For example, technologies that work best in a system that has deviated routes may not provide the same operational and customer- type of transit service related improvements as those that work in a traditional fixed-route to which it is being environment. applied. Another issue is the degree to which "off-the-shelf" technology can be directly applied to rural and small urban transportation services. Some rural systems are considering the use of technologies originally developed for large urban transit environments. Most of these technologies have not, until very recently, handled the specific requirements of paratransit. Most would not be able to handle the particular requirements of rural and small urban transit without considerable customization, which can be very costly. Table 9 shows a few examples of how new technologies could provide substantial assistance to coordinated rural transportation systems. 166 Techniques for Improving Current Coordination Efforts SECTION III