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10 19 of the private contractor's 26 vehicle operators had less among paratransit operators. The second was reported to than 1 year of experience and 15 had 6 months or less time have a turnover of 88% (18). on the job (15). The report noted that contractor staff · A review of the Connecticut Department of Transporta- "indicated that operator turnover had been a significant tion/Greater Hartford Transit District in Hartford, CT, in issue until just recently when changes in hiring practices June 2001 indicated about 7% to 17% annual turnover and compensation for paratransit operators were negoti- among ADA paratransit vehicle operators. The report notes ated with the union. Prior to January 2002, hiring for all that the private contractor cited fair compensation that operators, both fixed route and paratransit, was combined. included $10 to $12.50 per hour plus a 401(K) program, Paratransit operators were paid between $6.00 and $8.00 medical insurance, and holiday and vacation pay as factors per hour and fixed-route operators were paid between that kept turnover low (19). $8.82 and $14.70 per hour. New fixed-route operator posi- tions were offered first to existing personnel and virtually Demographic Factors Affecting Availability all new fixed-route operators transferred from paratransit. of Qualified Workers Essentially, all new hires were assigned to paratransit ser- vice and many operators then quickly transferred to fixed- The New York Public Transit Association Key Issues and route service as openings became available. This resulted in Concerns white paper points out that the aging of the large very high paratransit operator turnover. The fixed-route baby boom generation has major implications for changing seniority records between July 1 and December 31, 2001 consumer demands for housing, goods, and services, includ- indicated that a total of 23 operators had moved from VIP ing transportation. In addition to automobile travel, the (paratransit) service to the fixed-route service during this impact on transportation systems will likely include greater 6-month period. This suggests a paratransit operator turn- demand for paratransit services (1). over rate of about 88% per year. A new paratransit opera- Other publications discuss the size and speed with which tor contract was negotiated with the union effective January the baby boom generation is moving toward retirement. Some 2002. Under the new contract, operators are hired sepa- estimate that the number of federal workers at retirement age rately for the paratransit and fixed-route programs. Para- or eligible to retire in the next few years is as high as 53%. One transit operator pay was also increased to range from $9.00 recent study by the Rockefeller Institute of Government found to $12.00 per hour. Records from January through March that 42% of the 15.7 million state and local government 2002 indicate that these changes appear to be lowering employees are between 45 and 64 years old. Calling it the paratransit operator turnover. During this 3-month period, most "significant talent and brain drain ever experienced by only five new paratransit operators were hired and trained, government," the Institute estimates that a full 40% of state which suggests a turnover rate of 58% per year." and local government employees will be eligible to retire in · A review of the Metropolitan Tulsa Transit Authority in the next 15 years (20). Tulsa, OK, in March 2002 reported an annual turnover One federal lawmaker calls the work force problem "a cri- rate of about 50% per year. Low pay was $8.00 per hour at sis in human capital" and states that a compromised trans- that time and was believed by the private contractor to be portation work force would have serious repercussions for a major reason for the turnover (16). the U.S. economy. The demand for transportation continues · A review of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit to increase dramatically as the U.S. population has increased Authority in Atlanta, GA, in September 2001 noted that rapidly, and vehicle-miles traveled are increasing twice as fast "there are typically vacant ADA Complementary Paratran- as the population. If the workforce problem were confined to sit operator positions even though MARTA is constantly federal quarters, transportation policy-makers and managers hiring and training new operators" (17). The annual turn- could breathe a little easier, but it is not. The problem extends over for this publicly-operated service was reported to be to the state and local transportation workforces as well. The 46% a year. The report attributes much of the turnover to competition for qualified workers will be fierce, as almost "ADA Complementary Paratransit operators moving into every sector of business, industry, and government grapples fixed-route positions that become available . . . ADA Com- with the same problem. Although the challenge is not unique plementary Paratransit operators receive $8.40 to $12.30 per to transportation, the field does have its own set of compli- hour and fixed-route operators receive $13.43 to $17.00 cating circumstances because the nation's businesses and cit- per hour." izens are so dependent on the transportation system (20). · A review of the Milwaukee County Transit System in Mil- The effects of the aging baby boom generation will mani- waukee, WI, in July 2001 reported turnover rates for the fest themselves in other ways, as well. Though a significant two private contractors that operated the service. One con- portion of baby boomers will retire, others will choose to tractor was reported to have about 30% turnover per year remain in the workforce as "mature workers."