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OCR for page 106
106 only a minor increase in operators from three to five and no gaining with the union that represented RTD operators, the increase in vehicles. Second was the substantial increase in union agreed to include ADA paratransit services in a Mem- productivity that resulted from serving Annapolis riders who orandum of Understanding (MOU) that covered the county needed rides throughout the day. Augmenting this increase services. When RTD put the county and ADA services out for in productivity, the city provides some support to a volunteer bid in 2004, there were no bidders and the services continued driver program to serve individuals who need door-to-door to be operated by RTD. transportation. According to the Annapolis Transit respon- San Joaquin RTD oversees two service divisions--Stockton's dent, general service quality did not change after the shift, fixed-route metro services including BRT and San Joaquin except that the newer vehicles provided a more comfortable County services. There are 104 urban fixed-route operators ride, and added service hours gave riders more options. and 68 county operators, a figure that includes about 20 para- Today, the agency bids all routes on an annual basis. There transit operators at any given time, depending on run selec- is no extraboard. As a result, operators work overtime fairly tion. ADA paratransit service in Stockton is grouped under the often because there are 13 paid holidays. Following the switch county services through the Collective Bargaining Agreement. to an integrated workforce, operator training was expanded In addition to the ADA complementary paratransit service to include more passenger sensitivity training. All operators for the Stockton metropolitan area, RTD's County operation are expected to be familiar with the ADA requirements and includes county-wide general public Dial-a-Ride, deviated how to board riders who use wheelchairs. Annapolis Transit's fixed-route service for unincorporated areas, an interregional total workforce is 35, including regular fixed route operators. commuter service, and intercity fixed-route service. All county At different times, 30 of these operators have chosen to oper- services are operated at a different site and at three-quarters ate the Brown Route. Five explicitly do not choose the route pay of the Stockton municipal services. The top hourly pay for because they would rather not provide the extra service the municipal services is $23.22, while the top rate for county required to serve riders who use wheelchairs. Most experi- services is $17.42. The county training wage is $10.88, and enced operators are happy to drive the Brown Route; the starting pay after completion of training is $13.93. This pay resistance comes from the newer operators. The system-wide differential is summarized in a MOU with the union. The cost per hour is $37.25 for direct operating costs, with 49,462 workforces of all county services are integrated and have wage out of 218,438 annual trips made for people with disabilities. parity. One-third of the paratransit operators are on Dial-a- All full-time operators are represented by the same union. Ride, while the other two-thirds assist in covering other runs According to the Annapolis Transit respondent, the union is as needed. All operators receive the same training, and the very pleased with the current arrangement because it has benefits packages of both fixed route and county are almost resulted in more full-time employment for operators. identical. When there is an operator opening in the metro ser- vice, county operators may bid by seniority on that opening, where they would have a higher pay rate. The system respon- Partially Integrating the Workforce and dent noted that some county operators prefer to stay within Equalizing Wages: San Joaquin Regional the county services, however, in order to keep seniority, or Transit (San Joaquin RTD), Stockton, CA because they enjoy Dial-a-Ride service. San Joaquin RTD took its ADA paratransit service in-house As a result of an integrated county services workforce, the in 2002. Prior to that year, it had been operated by a contrac- system can more easily and efficiently cover all runs, includ- tor. During the time when the service was contracted, mem- ing periods when multiple operators take vacations. In an bers of the disability community complained to the mayor emergency, supervisors are also trained to make pickups. The and city council that buses frequently missed pickups, leaving system respondent notes that, in general, fixed-route and people stranded. RTD administrators tried to work with the paratransit operators are more knowledgeable and produc- contractor to address these issues, but after several months tive because of their experiences with multiple modes. The with little improvement, RTD decided to cancel the contract. respondent added that having a variety of operators serve on When the ADA service problems became apparent, RTD had ADA paratransit runs has increased their sensitivity to people just hired a new assistant general manager who was eager to with disabilities. improve the ADA service. She was soon promoted to general manager/CEO, and in her new position, she put in place The Dynamics of Recently Instituting Wage improvements that ensured RTD would deliver highly reliable Parity: Utah Transit Authority (UTA), ADA service. Salt Lake City, UT The county service was awarded to RTD in 1994 under enabling legislation that required that services be put out to UTA has been in a 30-month planning process to equal- bid at least once every 5 years. In 2000, during collective bar- ize fixed-route and paratransit operator wages and benefits.

OCR for page 106
107 This change, which will equalize the maximum wage rate to transit workforce from 106 to 82 thus enabling the agency to $18.24 per hour for both fixed-route and paratransit opera- assume the costs from increased wages. tors, was expected to be fully implemented in July 2009. At the The union was initially resistant because of concern that par- time of the interview--the Spring of 2009--UTA's workforce ity would result in a reduction in fixed-route operator wages. of 806 fixed route and paratransit operators was not inte- But a progressive union representative helped to persuade grated. Job openings in all modes are posted, and agency staff union membership that the change was a positive develop- members are given priority over applications from outside. ment. The union president at the time when this change was Management supported the decision to equalize wages, first proposed was very supportive of wage parity, arguing that which came about as a result of a number of factors. Paratran- all operators should be treated equally and fairly. While his sit operators complained that they felt the wage differential views were initially unpopular among many of the fixed-route reflected a lack of respect for the work that they perform. At operators, this has gradually shifted over time. A union respon- the time that wage parity was being considered, paratransit dent said that at this point, only a minority of operators oppose ridership decreased due to implementation of a package of the impending change. UTA's union respondent suggested improvements that included in-person eligibility assessments, that other agencies considering such a move should involve free fixed-route fares for paratransit registrants, travel train- fixed-route operators early on in the discussion as a way of ing, and feeder service. These measures led to a slight improve- building support. When the decision was made to include wage ment in paratransit efficiency, from 3.0 trips per hour in 2005 parity in the forthcoming contract, "morale shot up" among to 3.14 in 2007 to close to 3.3 in 2008. However, even this paratransit operators, and two fixed route operators have small increase in efficiency allowed UTA to reduce its para- already shifted to paratransit in anticipation of the move.