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Performance Data from Representative Systems 55 Table 6-2. Rural NTD safety incident data, FY2007. Average Reportable Rural DRT Category Major Incidents Per 100,000 Miles Primarily municipal service area 0.14 (102 systems) Primarily single-county service area 0.28 (262 systems) Multi-county service area 0.09 (115 systems) Source: 2007 Rural NTD database, rural transit systems operating only DRT, with outliers removed. The 2007 Rural NTD data can be examined to assess safety incidents for rural transit systems, providing a larger database than that of this project. Based on the DRT systems in the Rural NTD database that were assessed for performance statistics in this chapter (N = 479 systems) and based on the reported safety data, the average incidents per 100,000 miles is 0.21. This is based on a total of 387 reportable major incidents that were reported to NTD that year. The safety data can also be reviewed by the typology of rural DRT systems, with the average reportable safety incidents per 100,000 miles as shown in Table 6-2. When looking at actual reported numbers of incidents, the NTD data show that the vast majority of rural DRT systems have no reportable safety incidents. The average number of reportable major incidents per rural system in the municipal and single-county service-area categories is less than one; for systems in the multi-county category, there is an average of two incidents per system. While rural systems in the multi-county category had on average more reportable safety incidents, its average per 100,000 miles is less than that in the other two categories because of the significantly more miles traveled: multi-county DRT systems traveled more than 800,000 annual miles on average, compared with 115,000 for primarily municipal systems and 243,000 for primarily single-county systems. 6.3 Summary Rural DRT Performance Data The performance data from the representative rural DRT systems are summarized in Table 6-3, within the three categories of the typology. The important factors influencing the reported per- formance are also shown, as gleaned through the on-site visits and interviews with the DRT sys- tem managers. The various influencing factors, discussed in more detail in Chapter 5, include those that can be controlled or at least partially controlled by the transit system, while others are uncontrollable but must be acknowledged for their impact on performance. In addition, sum- mary performance data and selected operating characteristics are shown by system for the rep- resentative rural DRT systems in Appendix B. Passenger Trips Per Vehicle-Hour This measure of system productivity showed a large range: a high of 7.05 passenger trips per vehicle-hour to a low of 1.57. As was found in the urban phase of the research, those DRT sys- tems with smaller service areas tend to have higher productivities. Based on the research on rural DRT, the main controllable and partially controllable factors that influence higher productivity include the following: · A focus on routine group trips that are many-to-one and few-to-one. In particular, several of the higher productivity systems provide before- and after-school trips, with high group loads. · The ability to group trips for unaffiliated riders, particularly for longer-distance trips.
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Table 6-3. Summary performance data from representative rural DRT systems and influencing factors. Representative Passenger Trips per Operating Cost Operating Cost per Operating Cost per Rural DRT System Vehicle-Hour per Vehicle-Hour Vehicle-Mile Passenger Trip Effectiveness Cost-Efficiency Cost-Efficiency Cost-Effectiveness Primarily-Single-Municipality Systems 2.387.05 $35.23$74.04 $2.57$5.84 $5.00$31.17 (5 systems) Primarily-Single-County Systems 2.066.23 $32.47$78.05 $1.49 -$5.75 $7.63 -$30.76 (10 systems) Multi-County Systems (7 systems) 1.574.34 $26.08$42.27 $1.16$2.67 $7.99$20.76 Factors Influencing Performance Controllable/ Group trips for agency clients Administrative/overhead costs Administrative/overhead costs Administrative/overhead costs Partially Controllable Ability to group trips for Costs for operator labor Costs for operator labor Costs for operator labor unaffiliated riders, particularly Group trips for human service for longer-distance trips agency clients and ability to Use of AVL group trips for unaffiliated Use of immediate response vs. riders advance reservation service Use of AVL Extent of long-distance, out- Use of immediate response vs. of-primary-service-area trips advance reservation service Characteristics of contracted Extent of long-distance, out- service, in particular Medicaid of-primary-service-area trips Measures to reduce deadhead Measures to reduce deadhead No-shows/late cancellations No-shows/late cancellations Uncontrollable Size of service area Type of organization, i.e., Type of organization, i.e., Type of organization, i.e., Geographic constraints of transit district, city/county, transit district, city/county, transit district, city/county, service area private non-profit private non-profit private non-profit Requirements for long- Location in higher/lower Size of service area and its Size of service area and distance, out-of-service-area labor-wage region of country influence on miles traveled geographic constraints trips Type of ridership, i.e., ADA Types of roadways traveled Requirements for long- Type of ridership, i.e., ADA paratransit vs. non-ADA and operating speeds on those distance, out-of-service-area paratransit vs. non-ADA roadways trips Weather conditions that impact Type of ridership, i.e., ADA operating speeds paratransit vs. non-ADA
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Performance Data from Representative Systems 57 · Use of AVL in particular and of MDTs, which facilitate immediate response/same-day ser- vice. The AVL allows the dispatchers to "see" where the vehicles are, and they can send or re-direct the closest vehicle for an immediate pick-up. This ability to know vehicle loca- tions also gives the dispatchers improved control over the operators, allowing them to ensure that the operators are effectively deployed. · Use of immediate response or same-day scheduling, where dispatchers schedule trips in real-time, often providing very short response times, used in smaller service areas. · Efforts to reduce deadhead time and miles. · Low rate of no-shows and late cancellations. · Characteristics of contracted service, in particular Medicaid transportation. One of the rural systems that is a Medicaid transportation provider for a brokerage has discretion as to which long-distance Medicaid trips it accepts, according to the agreement--a factor that enables the system to ensure that the Medicaid trips it does provide can be grouped with other trips to maximize productivity. Uncontrollable factors include the following: · The size of the service area. · Geographic constraints of the service area, including mountains, rivers, and other bodies of water that impact the roadway network, resulting in longer trips to travel around these constraints. · Requirements for long-distance and out-of-service-area trips. · The type of ridership, with the few rural systems in the sample that serve predominately ADA paratransit trips showing lower productivities. Operating Cost Per Vehicle-Hour Performance on operating cost per vehicle-hour also showed a large range across the repre- sentative rural DRT systems contributing to the research: a low of $26 to a high of $78 per vehicle- hour. The systems with the lowest cost per vehicle-hour are non-profit organizations serving multi-county areas, which may not be fully allocating costs to the DRT system (e.g., all admin- istrative and overhead costs attributed to the DRT program). Those with the highest costs per hour are transit districts or governmental units with more extensive administrative structures operating in primarily single-county or municipal service areas. According to the research, the controllable and partially controllable factors include the following: · Costs for DRT administration, including the need for such functions as contract monitor- ing, certification, and Medicaid transportation administration. · Costs for operator labor. This is generally controllable for a transit system, but less control- lable if the DRT system must pay according to a pre-determined pay scale. Uncontrollable factors include the following: · The type of transit organization--that is, whether the DRT service is provided by a transit dis- trict; a governmental unit (city, county, or joint powers arrangement); or a private non-profit. · The location of the system in a higher- or lower-wage region of the country. Recent research on transit employee compensation in rural and small urban areas found that the region of the country is among the key variables correlated with wages (15). · The type of riders that are served. While there were only a few systems in the study sample that are predominately ADA paratransit, these had higher costs per hour, resulting from various factors including greater administrative needs related to eligibility/certification and longer service spans to match fixed-route service.
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58 Guidebook for Rural Demand-Response Transportation: Measuring, Assessing, and Improving Performance Operating Cost Per Vehicle-Mile The measure operating cost per vehicle-mile showed a low of $1.16 per vehicle-mile for a multi-county system operated by a non-profit in a lower-wage region of the country. The high was more than $5.00 per mile as seen at several systems that share few characteristics except for the fact that they have relatively high costs per hour compared with the other participating rural systems and traveled at slow average speeds compared with others in the sample. The slower speeds were impacted predominately by smaller service areas, with limited travel beyond the pri- mary service-area boundaries. Interestingly, one of the participating transit systems that appears as a high datapoint on cost per vehicle-hour for the county service-area category is a mid-point on the measure cost per vehicle-mile. This is because the system has significant travel outside its county borders, with those miles traveled on highways at highway speeds, with a systemwide average speed of 27 mph. Controllable and partially controllable factors influencing this measure include those same fac- tors related to operating costs, including costs for administration and operator labor. Operating costs may also be impacted if the rural system has significant long-distance trips to destinations beyond the primary service area, which will increase operating costs related to vehicle factors such as fuel and maintenance. These costs can be controlled to some extent by scheduling practices although these efforts may be limited if the trips are required for Medicaid purposes. There are a number of uncontrollable factors including the following: · The type of provider organization--that is, whether the system is a transit district, city/county, or private non-profit. · The size of service area, which influences miles traveled. · The type of roadways traveled (e.g., dirt roads, two-lane roads, or Interstate highways) and operating speeds on those roadways. · Weather conditions, which can impact operating speeds on roadways. Operating Cost Per Passenger Trip This measure is a composite of both operating cost per vehicle-hour and passenger trips per vehicle-hour. For the rural DRT systems included in the project, the cost per passenger trip ranges from $5, considered low for a DRT system, to a high shown by several systems of more than $30 per passenger trip--costs more similar to those at larger urban DRT systems. The data show a clustering within the range of $11 to $18 per passenger trip across the three service-area types. The factors influencing this measure are the same as those that impact cost per hour and passen- ger trips per hour. Important to recognize is the critical role that productivity plays with this mea- sure. One of the rural county-based systems with a relatively high cost per hour--more than $65 per vehicle-hour--has a cost per passenger trip of less than $11, due to the system's high productivity.