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2 Employee Compensation Guidelines for Transit Providers in Rural and Small Urban Areas We also provide background on the research conducted in developing the Guidebook and accompanying interactive computer tool. Finally, we describe the interactive computer tool that accompanies the Guidebook and how it can be used to explore salary and benefit characteristics of comparable transit systems in rural and small urban areas. Definition of Compensation How much employees are compensated for their work involves more than just their salary and/or Reducing overtime wages. Recent literature suggests that employees frequently place a higher value on other parts of can also save money their compensation and that often the benefits associated with the job are as important, or more most systems pay for important, than their actual wages. When considering how attractive your transit system is as an overtime at time employer, examine your total compensation package, including (but not limited to) the following: and a half. Reducing overtime can save 1. Wages/Salaries 50% on those hours. · Base wages for full-time or part-time employees · Whether employees are paid for overtime or given compensatory time 2. Benefits employee/employer contribution · Paid Leave Vacation Sick Personal days · Medical/Life Insurances Health insurance Dental insurance Disability insurance Life insurance · Other Pension/401(k) Education/tuition reimbursement Wellness program All aspects of a compensation package can affect a transit system's ability to attract, hire, and retain good employees. Keep in mind that different elements of the compensation package may motivate management employees more than front-line employees such as drivers and dispatch- ers. Other, non-monetary aspects that will affect your ability to recruit and retain employees are discussed in Section 4. Compensation Issues Unique to Rural and Small Urban Transit Rural and small urban transit systems, by necessity, operate differently than larger urban A transit system systems. As distinct from their counterparts in large urban areas, which often have an entire is only as good as its department dedicated to managing human resources, rural and small urban transit systems have people. unique, non-standardized needs when making compensation decisions. Looking at the characteristics of the systems responding to the survey for this project provides some insights into the types of transit systems operating in rural and small urban areas of the United States. Based on the inventory of transit systems developed for this project, it appears there are about 1,850 1,900 rural and small urban public transit operators, including almost 1,500 rural operators and 400 small urban operators. Given that no definitive database on rural
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Introduction 3 and small urban operators exists, the best that can be assumed is that the characteristics of the systems responding to the survey roughly represent transit systems operating in rural and small urban areas of the country. Some characteristics of rural and small urban systems that can affect compensation are described in the following subsections. Service Area Characteristics There are wide variations in the size and character of the areas served by transit systems Service areas vary responding to the survey. The highest percentage operate in a single county (37%), but many greatly in terms of operate multi-county (27%), in a single municipality (21%), or in a multi-town area (14%). size and proximity About half of the respondents have an urbanized area within their primary service area, but, for to an urban area. those that do not, the distance to the nearest urbanized area varies greatly. Consequently, some of the respondents may be dealing with the influence of proximity to a more urban workforce while others are not. Another measure of the urban nature of the areas served by the systems can be seen in the source of transit funding they receive; over 80% of the respondents received S.5311 grants (for non-urbanized areas) and 22% received S.5307 grants (for small urban areas). Transit System Organizational Characteristics Transit systems in rural and small urban areas tend to be more varied--operating within a Services are operated wider range of organizational models. There are many variations in the types of organiza- by various types of tions/agencies operating transit in rural and small urban environs. The highest percentage of organizations from respondents operate within multi-purpose private-nonprofit human services agencies (25%). independent transit Systems operating out of a multi-purpose agency may present a different set of compensation authorities to issues because the employees of the agency are not focused on a single mission (e.g., compensa- government units to tion for transit employees may be weighed against decisions concerning home health workers private-nonprofit and city/county maintenance workers). County and city governments account for 17% and 21% agencies. of the respondents, respectively, while 15% of the respondents are transit authorities, and 14% are single-purpose private-nonprofit agencies that only provide transportation. The issues faced and the process of making compensation decisions within a government unit will differ from a relatively independent transit authority or private-nonprofit agency. Transit Service Characteristics Most transit systems responding to the survey operate a mix of services ranging from true fixed Systems provide routes to paratransit/demand-responsive and everything in between. This range of services has many types of implications for the size and type of vehicles needed, the need for drivers to have a Commercial service: fixed routes, Drivers License (CDL), and the need for specific operational skills. Transit systems vary greatly deviated fixed in the size of their operation--from a system that operates one vehicle and provides only 10 trips routes, paratransit, without any CDL vehicles to systems with fleets of hundreds of vehicles requiring CDL drivers and subscription. and providing millions of trips annually. Employee Characteristics Most transit systems responding to the survey have both full- and part-time employees. For Most systems use those that use part-time employees, the percentage of part-time employees varies from 3% to both part- and 100%. Only 15% use volunteers--all of those in conjunction with paid employees. The turnover full-time employees. rate (defined as the number of employees who left during a year divided by the average monthly employment for the year) averages 11%, but varies widely--from 0% to 65% (with a standard deviation of 13%). Only 20% of the respondents have employee unions at their systems; gener- ally, these are the small urban systems operated by transit authorities or local government.