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Performance Data from Representative Systems 49 In analyzing the collected data, the researchers found that data for other service modes were sometimes commingled with that for DRT and that the reported performance data did not always match the definitions being used for the project. The most common data issue found was that, where rural systems operate demand-response and route deviation service, the system reported combined operating data, so the data for the two modes were commingled. In such cases, additional information was requested from that system so that the route deviation data could be separated out, with only demand-response data remaining. The other issue related to the reporting of vehicle-hours. As was found during the urban phase of the research project, some systems substitute operator pay-hours or some other hours data for vehicle-hours. Again, additional information was requested so that the data could be adjusted to conform more closely to the data definitions being used for the Guidebook. Where adjust- ments were made, they were reviewed with the specific DRT system to ensure agreement, and all adjusted data are noted where appropriate in this chapter. Finally, despite efforts to adjust the performance data, the statistics for one of the participat- ing 24 DRT systems are not included in the peer data presented in this chapter. 6.2 Comparing Your Performance Against Other Systems--Performance Data of Representative Rural DRT Systems This section provides the performance data from the representative systems for four of the key measures--passenger trips, vehicle-hours, vehicle-miles, and operating costs--using "stock" graphs. For each of these measures--passenger trips per vehicle-hour, operating cost per vehicle- hour, operating cost per vehicle-mile, and operating cost per passenger trip--the performance data are shown within the three categories of rural DRT, as defined by the typology developed through this project (and described in Chapter 5). In addition to the data from the representative systems, data from the Rural NTD Report Year 2007 are shown on the graphs, providing data from a much larger sample of rural DRT systems. With access to the 2007 Rural NTD dataset, data for rural systems operating DRT were extracted for analysis. In order to assess cost performance measures, rural systems operating only DRT were selected because rural reporters provide total operating cost without any mode-specific cost data. Without mode-specific costs, it is not possible to assess DRT only for those rural systems that operate DRT and other modes. For each of the graphs presenting data from the representative rural DRT systems and for each of the three service-area types, the range and average of the rural DRT-only NTD reporters are shown. These same data are shown in table form in Appendix A. It should be noted that the 2007 Rural NTD data were reviewed prior to inclusion in this project, and DRT systems with incom- plete data or with datapoints far outside what would be expected were deleted, generally data more than two standard deviations from the mean. While the Rural NTD data did not receive the same level of scrutiny that was possible through this research project for the participating DRT systems, inclusion of the NTD data alongside that of the systems from the research project provides a larger framework for rural DRT performance data. Passenger Trips Per Vehicle-Hour--Productivity Productivity may be the most important single performance measure for a DRT system. Data from the representative systems, as well as data from the Rural NTD, show that productivities are generally somewhat higher for rural DRT systems serving smaller service areas (see Figure 6-2).
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50 Guidebook for Rural Demand-Response Transportation: Measuring, Assessing, and Improving Performance 10 NTD MAX RANGE (9.93) NTD 9 MAX RANGE (8.98) NTD MAX RANGE (8.31) 8 PASSENGER TRIPS PER VEHICLE HOUR 7 7.05 6.23* 6 5.75* 5 NTD AVG (4.44) 4.26 4.34* 4 4.01 3.53 3.56 3.18 3.19* NTD AVG (3.13) 2.86* 3.15 3 2.96* 2.61 NTD AVG (2.91) 2.57* 2.85 2.53 2.38 2.43 2 2.06* 2.14* 1.91 NTD 1.57 MIN RANGE (1.49) 1 NTD NTD MIN RANGE (0.61) MIN RANGE (0.49) 0 Municipality County Multi County TYPE OF SERVICE AREA B31A Representative Data, 2007 Rural NTD data for DR only systems, 2007 Report Year * Adjusted Data Figure 6-2. Rural DRT systems: passenger trips per vehicle-hour. The productivities of those systems serving predominately a single municipal area tend to be higher than those of systems serving predominately a single county, which in turn trend higher than those systems serving multi-county areas. This would be expected, as systems serving smaller service areas will have shorter trip lengths, so more trips can be served in a given vehicle-hour. DRT systems with smaller service areas would also be expected to generally have less deadhead time, and this will benefit productivity since the productivity measure for rural DRT uses vehicle- hours, as opposed to revenue-hours, in the denominator. A few of the representative systems deserve note for their high or low datapoints compared with the other representative systems. The municipal DRT system with productivity of 7.05 oper- ates in a small and compactly developed geographic area, and some of the service appears to operate less like demand-response and more like route deviation. This is an informal arrange- ment that seems to be a carry-over from when the service operated more as fixed route. The municipal system with the lowest productivity--2.38--is an ADA paratransit service. The county system with productivity of 6.23, which is the high point for primarily single- county systems, operates as immediate response and, significantly, is actually a composite of a number of smaller, community-based DRT systems that are linked together in a very large ser- vice area with intercity routes. While the productivities of the different community DRT systems within the county vary, together they average over six passengers per vehicle-hour. From a per- formance reporting perspective on this measure, this county system should more appropriately be seen as a number of primarily municipal systems.
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Performance Data from Representative Systems 51 The county system with a productivity of 5.75, also considered high for a county-based service, operates predominately as immediate response; with the vehicles equipped with AVL and MDTs, the dispatchers proactively dispatch service in real-time, sending out trips to the operators about 30 min in advance. With the technology and skilled dispatchers, "the drivers are pushed most of the time," according to the system manager. For the multi-county rural systems, both the high and low productivity points can be noted. The high productivity of 4.34 passenger trips per vehicle-hour is found at a system where, while the service area is a large 10-county region, the majority of the trips are provided within a 5-mile radius of the primary community. Also, the system serves a significant number of school-aged riders, providing service to and from daycare and other before/after school destinations. This rural system has actively sought out such trips, which, since they are "many-to-one" and "few-to-one," will improve productivity. The low productivity datapoint within the multi-county service-area category at 1.57 passen- ger trips per vehicle-hour is a result of several factors for that particular rural system. Chief among them is the fact that almost one-fourth of its trips are for Medicaid purposes, and many of these go to destinations beyond the primary three-county service area. Additionally, the system uses a taxi company as one of three primary service contractors, and the taxi trips tend to be single-ride. Operating Cost Per Vehicle-Hour Operating cost per vehicle-hour is a key cost-efficiency measure. Data from the representative systems are shown in Figure 6-3. It can be seen that systems in the predominately municipal and predominately single-county categories show similarities on this performance measure, ranging from $32 to $35 per hour up to $74 to $78, with clustering roughly between $40 to $49 per vehicle-hour. The ranges shown for the Rural NTD data are also similar for the two service- area-type categories. Data for the multi-county rural systems, however, show somewhat lower cost per vehicle-hour figures. This may be explained, at least in part, by the fact that most of the multi-county systems are non-profit organizations, where, according to recent research, compensation is less than at governmental units (e.g., municipalities or counties) and transit districts (15). This impacts their cost structure since labor costs are the major component of operating costs. Operating cost differences may also result, to some extent, from cost allocation procedures; systems that are part of a larger organization and particularly a multi-purpose human service agency may not fully allocate costs to their transit service. A transit district, on the other hand, will have the full complement of functions needed for transit within one organization and full cost accounting is more typical. The high datapoints in Figure 6-3 merit note. For the predominately municipal service-area category, the high point of $74.04 per vehicle-hour is influenced by the fact that this is an ADA paratransit system, operated by a small city where there is labor market competition for vehicle operator positions and where there is no wage or training distinction between fixed-route and paratransit operators. Additionally, all operators have Commercial Driver Licenses (CDL). There were also recent scheduling improvements that increased shared riding with less one-on-one taxi-type service, and this reduced paratransit vehicle-hours and subsequently increased passen- ger trips per vehicle-hour. Without reductions in related operating and overhead costs, such as for scheduling/dispatch and ADA eligibility certification, the factors worked together to increase the cost per vehicle-hour. For the predominately single-county service-area category, the two high datapoints--$77.90 and $78.05 per vehicle-hour--come from rural systems that are transit authorities, which have
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52 Guidebook for Rural Demand-Response Transportation: Measuring, Assessing, and Improving Performance NTD $80.00 MAX RANGE ($79.92) NTD $78.05* MAX RANGE ($77.27) $77.90 $74.04 $70.00 $67.09* NTD OPERATING COST PER VEHICLE HOUR MAX RANGE ($61.75) $60.00 $57.65 $50.00 $48.82* $47.47* $45.16* $43.41* $40.50 $42.27 $40.00 $40.09* $40.09* $36.66* $34.66* NTD AVG ($34.33) $35.23 NTD AVG ($34.86) $33.70 $32.72* NTD AVG ($32.84) $32.69 $32.47 $30.26* $30.00 $29.31 $26.08 $20.00 NTD NTD MIN RANGE ($15.05) MIN RANGE ($14.49) NTD MIN RANGE ($11.85) $10.00 $0.00 Municipality County Multi County TYPE OF SERVICE AREA B31A Representative Data, 2007 Rural NTD data for DR only systems, 2007 Report Year * Adjusted Data Figure 6-3. Rural DRT systems: operating cost per vehicle-hour. a higher cost structure compared with other transit organizations (e.g., cities, counties, and non- profits). Additionally, both of the systems, while rural, are located near major metropolitan areas in higher-wage regions of the country. Operating Cost Per Vehicle-Mile Operating cost per vehicle-mile, similarly to operating cost per vehicle-hour, is a cost-efficiency measure. Data from the representative rural systems (see Figure 6-4) show that generally the operating cost per vehicle-mile is somewhat higher for the predominately municipal service-area type, with costs for systems in the predominately single-county service area trending lower, and, with the multi-county service-area systems, lower still. The Rural NTD data show somewhat higher costs for the predominately municipal category, while costs per vehicle-mile are more similar for the other two categories. Based on data from the representative systems, it seems the high datapoints for both the predominately municipal service-area systems ($5.84 and $4.65 per vehicle-mile) and the predominately single-county systems ($5.75, $5.60, and $4.47 per vehicle-mile) stem prima- rily from relatively high costs per vehicle-hour combined with slower average speeds. These systems operate in smaller service areas compared with other systems in their categories, with no or limited out-of-primary-service-area trips. This results in minimal or no higher-speed highway driving among these systems.
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Performance Data from Representative Systems 53 $8.00 NTD MAX RANGE ($7.64) $7.00 NTD MAX RANGE ($6.97) OPERATING COST PER VEHICLE MILE $6.00 NTD $5.84 MAX RANGE ($5.93) $5.75 $5.60* $5.00 $4.65* $4.47 $4.00 NTD AVG ($3.12) $3.02* $3.05 $3.00 $2.96 $2.92* $2.83 $2.67* $2.73* $2.67* $2.57* $2.41* NTD AVG ($2.09) NTD AVG ($2.13) $2.19 $2.00 $1.73* $1.64 $1.59 NTD $1.49 $1.48 MIN RANGE ($1.31) $1.40* $1.16 $1.00 NTD NTD MIN RANGE ($0.75) MIN RANGE ($0.79) $0.00 Municipality County Multi-County TYPE OF SERVICE AREA B31A Representative Data, 2007 Rural NTD data for DR only systems, 2007 Report Year * Adjusted Data Figure 6-4. Rural DRT systems: operating cost per vehicle-mile. These data from the predominately municipal and predominately county rural systems can be contrasted, for example, to the low datapoint for the multi-county service-area systems at $1.16 per vehicle-mile. That particular rural system, operated by a non-profit agency in a lower- wage region part of the country, has a cost per vehicle-hour of less than $30 and, with trips throughout its five-county service area with many including highway travel, an average speed of 22 mph. This is significantly faster than the average speed of the rural systems with the high costs per vehicle-mile in the other two categories, which show average speeds of 11 to 13 mph. Operating Cost Per Passenger Trip This measure is considered a cost-effectiveness measure, combining elements of operating cost per vehicle-hour and passengers trips per vehicle-hour. The representative rural DRT system data, shown in Figure 6-5, show that those systems with low productivity combined with relatively high costs per hour have high costs per passenger trip, as would be expected. In the primarily municipal service-area category, for example, the system with an operating cost per passenger trip of $31.17 operates ADA paratransit service with a relatively low productivity and also has the highest cost per vehicle-hour of systems in that category. In the primarily single-county service area, the two high datapoints--$30.76 and $30.38 per passenger trip--come from systems with lower productivities compared with other systems in that category (and one of these systems is predominately an ADA paratransit service) and both are transit districts, with a higher cost structure compared with the other organization types.
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54 Guidebook for Rural Demand-Response Transportation: Measuring, Assessing, and Improving Performance $70.00 NTD MAX RANGE ($68.14) $60.00 OPERATING COST PER PASSENGER TRIP NTD MAX RANGE ($54.46) $50.00 $40.00 NTD MAX RANGE ($38.42) $31.17 $30.76 $30.00 $30.38* $20.00 $18.12 $20.76 $16.51* $15.87 $14.89* $15.54 $15.37 $12.37* NTD AVG ($13.36) $15.16* NTD AVG ($13.77) $14.13* $12.18* $11.88 $11.34* $10.77 $11.82 $10.00 NTD AVG ($9.07) $7.85* $8.27 $7.63 $7.99* $5.00 NTD NTD NTD MIN RANGE ($4.66) MIN RANGE ($3.76) MIN RANGE ($2.54) $0.00 Municipality County Multi-County TYPE OF SERVICE AREA B31A Representative Data, 2007 Rural NTD data for DR only systems, 2007 Report Year * Adjusted Data Figure 6-5. Rural DRT systems: operating cost per passenger trip. While systems with low productivity and high costs per hour show high cost per passenger trip, the opposite is also shown: those DRT systems with high productivity and relatively lower costs per hour have the lower costs per passenger trip. In the primarily municipal service-area category, for example, the system with the $5.00 per passenger trip has both the highest produc- tivity and lowest cost per hour in the category. Interestingly, the operating cost per passenger trip for rural DRT systems in all three of the categories--those operating in primarily a single municipality, primarily in a single county, and in multi-county areas--appears to cluster in similar ranges, from about $11 to $15, although the primarily single-county systems show a somewhat broader grouping, from $11 to $18 per passenger trip. Performance Measures for Safety and Service Timeliness As noted above, there was very limited data from the representative rural DRT systems on the safety measure--Rural NTD safety incidents per 100,000 vehicle-miles--or for on-time per- formance. The majority of the participating DRT systems does not formally measure on-time performance and, thus, had no on-time data to provide for the project, but all monitor their safety performance, as would be expected. Only a few had the NTD safety incident data. When questioned about their safety experience, most of the managers indicated that they had no acci- dents and certainly none that reached the NTD reporting thresholds.