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28 during the same times that IVR technology is available to gram. That level of detail helps Whatcom to immediately other customers. identify problems that are agency-based so that they can be resolved promptly. HIGHLIGHT 4: DOCUMENTATION The manager of specialized transportation noted that AND RECORD KEEPING "even if we get the call a minute before the driver shows up, Most scheduling and dispatching software includes at least we save time." For him, "no-shows are a cost of doing busi- two mechanisms for capturing no-show and cancellation ness." He reports that in the late 1990s, Whatcom experi- data: in real time using the dispatch screen or during trip ver- enced no-show rates of 5% to 6%. With the implementation ification using data entered from driver manifests. Data fields of a new no-show policy, Whatcom's no-show rate is now also can be user-defined to capture specific elements such as approximately 1.5%, and very few suspension notices are late cancellations. Some programs are able to differentiate issued each month. between cancellations at the door (refusals) and a no-show or different timing cutoffs for different types of cancellations. HIGHLIGHT 5: BEYOND THE RIDER'S CONTROL Furthermore, software vendors have developed standard no-show/cancellation reports to capture basic trip data useful Section 37.125(h) of the ADA regulations states that transit for tracking and managing no-shows and cancellations. These systems must consider only missed trips (no-shows) that are reports usually can be generated daily to capture information within the control of the rider and must not count trips about which customers have incurred no-shows immediately against passengers that are missed for reasons beyond the following the event or monthly to provide summary statis- individual's control, which may include trips missed tics. Vendors are also developing suspension modules, which because of operator error. Specifically, 49 CFR 37.125(h)(1) may be used to automatically track and assign suspensions, states that generate suspension letters, and reactivate suspensions once they have expired. Trips missed by the individual for reasons beyond his or her con- trol (including, but not limited to, trips which are missed due to operator error) shall not be a basis for determining that such a Ad hoc reporting is another option. Often users will pattern or practice exists. download the data and import it into spreadsheets to create their own reports. The Whatcom Transportation Authority in A good example of clearly defining what is meant by Bellingham, Washington, uses an older commercial software "beyond the rider's control" has been adopted by King program and is satisfied with it. Whatcom has developed a County Metro in Seattle. set of custom reports to manage its no-show policy, and actively collects and analyzes a variety of information about King County Metro has developed a comprehensive its passengers and their trip-making because it is helpful for ACCESS Program No-Show Policy and Administrative understanding customer behavior. The system also actively Procedures manual, which includes detailed information supports regular communication with riders and the system's about how staff should handle no-shows and late cancella- no-show literature encourages people to call to resolve no- tions. The manual includes eight sections: (1) cancellations, show problems. (2) suspension for rider no-shows, (3) flowchart of the pro- cess, (4) excuse procedures, (5) review process, (6) appeals Specifically, Whatcom has developed a Definition of Sta- process, (7) sample letters, and (8) passenger brochure. Of tus No-Show Tracking & Call Sheet for daily tracking and particular interest to this discussion is section 4 (reproduced management of its no-shows. The form includes a column to here), how ACCESS handles no-show excuses. In particular, indicate the reason for the no-show and whether Whatcom the policy is very clear under what circumstances a no-show reversed the no-show after discussing it with the passenger. is or is not to be excused. The form also indicates how many no-shows each customer has accumulated to date and whether a vehicle was sent back No Shows or Cancels are EXCUSED when the trip is to pick-up the passenger after the apparent no-show. Space missed for the following reasons. Check the Excuse box on the Supplemental Data tab, and enter reason in Excuse is provided to document the attempts made to contact the Details, and your user name in Excused By. (Categories are customer and who ultimately was reached to resolve the sta- shown in BOLD.) tus of the no-show. The customer is SICK. Whatcom also generates monthly reports to capture sta- FAMILY emergency: Death or illness of family member, or other tistics about no-shows, including details on the number of family emergency. MOBILITY AID failed. follow-up calls made to discuss an apparent no-show, num- LATE connecting transportation: late transfer trip, airplane, train, ber of no-shows, number of warning letters, number of etc., caused the customer to miss the trip. suspensions, etc. The form also includes a breakdown of the APPOINTMENT CANCELLED/DELAYED for reasons not the cus- percentage of no-shows for nursing homes served by the pro- tomer's fault. Use also for site closures.
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29 Adverse WEATHER: Snow, Extreme heat or Extreme cold. ture information about excused and nonexcused no-shows. ACTS OF GOD: Flood, earthquakes, etc. The data are entered into the scheduling and dispatching soft- STAFFING ERROR: The calltaker did not make all the cancel- ware program. Although its software program has a sus- lations the client requested; or customer just found out the ride was scheduled for the wrong day, time, or location or pension module, King County developed its own in-house the customer thought he/she cancelled the ride using Ride- process to manage no-shows and late cancellations and does line. My trip time was not changed, so I was not ready, and not use that module. The program generates a letter for each no one told me. no-show. The letter is then sent so that the customer knows OTHER: Refer Customer to customer service. a penalty is being assessed and to encourage them to call Metro ACCESS to discuss the status of their no-shows with No Shows or Cancels are NOT EXCUSED when the trip is missed for the following reasons: agency staff. Customer didn't want to travel today. The no-show policy has been enforced since 2002. Before Customer changed their mind about using appointment. the policy went into effect, Metro spent 4 months educating Customer didn't know that he/she had a ride scheduled or was sup- its customers about the policy, sent out letters, and included posed to call to cancel. relevant information in its newsletter. In 2002, Metro had an Customer got another ride. 11% no-show rate for the first 7 months of the year; this rate Customer told someone else he/she was not planning to travel (driver, facility, etc.) or someone else booked the ride for him/her. dropped to 8% after the outreach effort. By 2004, the rates Customer does not want to ride with specific driver or passenger, dropped to approximately 5.8% (that rate includes some trips or on a specific vehicle. that other systems might define as advance cancellations). King County does not require written documentation for King County Metro developed a procedure to properly excused no-shows, although staff does watch for a pattern of code information about why customers were missing particu- repeat excuses that may indicate a person is having repetitive lar trips so that the transit agency could more accurately cap- problems. FIGURE 18 Sun Metro/LIFT door hanger for no-shows.