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20 job placement centers. One manager stated that the system number of operators available, one with an extensive extra- has had very positive results using one particular Internet board (shared with fixed-route). Supervisors estimate annual source to secure applicants, especially younger computer turnover rates range from under 20% to 50%, with the major- savvy job seekers. ity ranging between 35% and 50%. Managers reported hours of work and working on week- ends as other reasons operators leave the company. Thirty- Why Operators Leave seven percent of the managers stated that operators leave for Operators from challenged systems stated that a major bar- more money. One manager stated that some use operator pay rier to retaining operators is the lack of recognition by the as a second income. Another stated that turnover seems to employer. One operator stated, "They are so used to manag- occur most often at the bottom of the pay scale. Managers ing turnover, they have forgotten how to manage people." At unanimously reported that attendance was the primary rea- one system the operator stated, "Every now and then they son for involuntary termination. One manager added that might give us a barbeque but other than that, they don't do accidents and relocation due to the rising cost of living were anything to try to keep you." Another operator from a chal- also frequent reasons. lenged system reported that there is a once-a-year banquet, Managers report that initial training for operators ranges but only the fixed-route operators get recognized. from 1.5 to 8 weeks in length. Those with 4 weeks or less con- Operators in the challenged group identified the way their cur that training should be longer. Four managers estimated employer makes shift assignments as a major reason people that 50% of new hires do not complete training. One partic- leave claiming that they will "schedule you a day off and then ular area of concern is the need for more time learning to read will draft you to work on your off day." Shifts based on senior- maps. Those with training lasting up to 8 weeks typically are ity were also identified as barriers to retention. One operator, a training for paratransit and fixed-route runs at the same time. female, reported that late night flex shifts are "discouraging and kind of frightening since the system operates until midnight." Factors Adversely Affecting Operator Approximately 80% of operators in the challenged group Satisfaction and Performance commented that fringe benefits for paratransit operators are inadequate. The following are quotes from the group: "We According to the supervisor group, scheduling is the most need better benefits. Always changing insurance and giving us frequently cited source of frustration for paratransit operators, bad benefits." One operator commented, "The people who with seven of nine supervisors making statements in that regard. drive the big buses get more holidays than the paratransit In cases where an organization other than the service provider operators." develops the schedule, the problem is exacerbated. The most Operators in the stable group had more difficulty stating common complaint is that the schedules are "too tight" with why most people leave their employment because there is not enough time to get from one point to another safely. In very low turnover at their agencies. In most of these cases, addition, the number of unscheduled trips, in one case up to operators drive both fixed-route and paratransit assignments. 53 a day, is an ongoing challenge for operators. One supervisor These operators feel that the most common reason operators stated that 99% of operator complaints are about scheduling. leave is that they cannot deal with the stress of working with The second most frequent source of dissatisfaction reported by people who are different or with disabilities. Some feel that operators is the disrespectful behavior of dispatchers. operators may leave because they are looking for something The major complaint from challenged systems operators different. Schedules and the inability to read a map were cited regarding operating policies and practices revolved around by more than one operator as possible factors contributing to the attitude and support of dispatchers. Operators stated that people leaving. In one locale with a number of transit agencies dispatchers take a long time to respond to their calls. One to select from, operators move from one system to another for operator stated: "You don't get help from them. They don't higher pay. It is not uncommon for operators to come to an know the city themselves. It is frustrating when you can't do agency, get their Commercial Driver's License, and go else- what you could do because of poor planning." The degree of where, presumably for higher pay. operator frustration is illustrated in the following comments: Six of the nine supervisors (67%) gave poor attendance as the primary reason for involuntary termination of operators. "Scheduling is not good." The next most frequent reason given is accidents, which three "Lots of favoritism--better routes go to the people they get participants highlighted. Fifty percent stated that they have along with." difficulty covering runs, with some runs having to be distrib- "Will send two buses to one house for two people." uted as add-ons. In some cases, supervisors and managers "Not enough time allotted to do the run; then they do an must cover runs. Two supervisors stated they have a sufficient add-on."