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45 Table 3-13. Success with efforts to improve retention. Some or Good Some Success Little Success Good Success % Tried with % Tried with Good Success Have Tried Used with Used with Used with % That Success Used Not Retention Efforts Targeted recruitment on 34 13 15 1 46% 55% 3% particular applicant skills Performance bonuses 33 12 16 3 48% 61% 10% Employee recognition 11 16 34 3 83% 70% 6% Programs Team-building efforts 17 22 21 4 73% 53% 9% Increased opportunities 8 14 38 4 88% 75% 7% for operator feedback Improved complaint 9 20 32 3 86% 64% 5% investigation/mediation Keeping operators updated on 3 15 38 8 95% 75% 13% policies and procedures Improved dispatch support 9 15 32 8 86% 73% 15% GPS or other technologies 30 7 20 7 53% 79% 21% to assist with the job Improved vehicle condition 9 13 30 11 86% 76% 20% and/or work environm ent Modified/improved operator 25 12 23 3 60% 68% 8% work shifts Increased training opportunities 13 23 27 1 80% 55% 2% for operators Training in personnel 19 17 27 1 70% 62% 2% management for managers Increased hourly wages 18 13 23 10 72% 72% 22% Improved fringe benefits 30 14 15 5 53% 59% 15% offered Extended shifts to increase 42 6 13 3 34% 73% 14% total take-home pay Exit interviews with operators 13 33 16 2 80% 35% 4% who voluntarily leave was reported to have resulted in good success by more than Innovative Procurement Strategies 10% of respondents who tried each. Some level of success was reported with several other efforts. Public transit agencies that completed the survey and who Over two-thirds of respondents who had tried other efforts indicated that they contracted out for some or all of their reported "some or good success" with employee recognition ADA paratransit service were asked to indicate if they had programs (70%), increased opportunities for operator feed- employed innovative procurement to ensure a full paratran- back (75%), updating operators on policies and procedures sit vehicle operator workforce. Five types of procurement (75%), improved dispatch support (73%), GPS and other strategies were listed, and respondents were asked to indicate technologies to assist with the job (79%), improved vehicle if each of these strategies was "Not Used," "Used with Little condition and work environment (76%), modified/improved Impact," "Used with Some Impact," "Used with Moderate work shifts (68%), increased hourly wages (72%), and extended Impact," or "Used with Significant Impact." Respondents shifts to increase total take home pay (73%). More than half of were also asked to indicate any other types of procurement respondents who had tried other efforts also reported some strategies that were not on the list and to describe these strate- level of success--with the exception of exit interviews (35%)-- gies. Finally, if respondents indicated that they used any one which respondents probably felt shed light on retention prob- of the listed strategies with some, moderate, or significant lems but did not actually improve retention without other impact, they were asked to provide additional information on actions. these efforts.
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46 Table 3-14. Success with innovative procurement strategies. Some Moderate or Moderate Success Some Success Little Success Good Success % Tried with Good Success % Tried with Good Success Have Tried Used with Used with Used with Used with % That Used Not Procurement Strategy Included language in the RFP indicating that a stable, experienced vehicle operator 11 6 8 6 4 69% 75% 17% workforce was expected Assigned points in the evaluation process on whether the proposal would provide a stable, 15 4 6 6 2 55% 78% 11% experienced vehicle operator workforce Set a goal for maximum vehicle operator 33 1 1 0 0 6% 50% 0% turnover Included "living wage" or other minimum 22 4 3 4 2 37% 69% 15% wage standards in the RFP Included incentives and/or penalties in the contract related to maintaining an adequate 14 5 6 3 7 60% 76% 33% vehicle operator workforce or covering all runs assigned Table 3-14 shows the responses to whether public entities least somewhat successful and seven (33%) saying it had had used one of the listed procurement approaches and the good success. level of success experienced with each. As shown in Table 3-14, Eight public transit agencies indicated use of other strate- 24 of the 35 public transit agencies that responded to this gies and provided descriptions of these other approaches. question (69%) indicated that they had included language in They had the following comments: their service RFPs indicating that a stable, experienced vehi- cle operator workforce was expected. Three-quarters of those · "We are just awarding contracts so cannot determine the that used this procurement strategy indicated that it achieved long term impact of changes in our process. Old contract some, moderate, or good success. Four of the 24 indicated had minimum wage standards, but that seemed to raise good success (17%). issues as two of the contract providers have union repre- Eighteen public agencies out of 33 (55%) that responded sented operators. We also removed penalties and incen- to the second strategy indicated that they assigned points in tives related to covering all runs, etc. as they cost more to the evaluation of proposals to whether the proposers would administer than the incentive themselves and did not provide a stable, experienced vehicle operator workforce. This seem to make a difference in contractor behavior. We strategy was reported to have at least some success 78% of the have established a new bid model with flexible start times time and good success 11% of the time. where the start times can vary 1-2 hours per day. The Only two of the 35 respondents (6%) indicated that they operator will receive notification the day prior to service had set a maximum goal in their RFPs for vehicle operator as to when they start the following day. We are sending turnover. Little success with this option was reported by one more operators home before end of shift when enough of the agencies and only some success by the other. late cancellations allow us to close routes early by mov- Relatively few public entities (37%) indicated that they had ing rides." included a "livable wage" or other minimum wage standard in · "East Bay Paratransit manager through a brokerage. Bro- their RFPs. Of the 13 who did this, 9 (69%) indicated at least ker (Veolia) subcontracts with service providers. Veolia's some success, and 2 (15%) reported good success. contract with service providers includes liquidated dam- Twenty-one public agencies out of 35 that responded ages for failing to cover runs. One service provider is a (60%) indicated that they included incentives and/or small in house unit of BART's bus partner in East Bay penalties in their contracts related to maintaining an ade- Paratransit--Alameda Contra Costa Transit District (AC quate vehicle operator workforce or covering all runs Transit). The paratransit unit is directed by Veolia and assigned. This strategy was also reported to result in the subject to same liquidated damages although there is no greatest success, with 16 agencies (76%) saying it was at subcontract between Veolia and the paratransit unit."
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47 · "Required at least status quo on wages and benefits required during a severe operator shortage such as was experienced retention of existing qualified workforce." in all the Bay Area in FY 07, the LD's did not make a sub- · "There are penalties in place that cover completing the stantial improvement." daily work schedule." · "More than 50% of previous contractor employees stayed · "TARC pays contractor a retention bonus of $100/per with new contractor." employee every 3 months." · "Points are assigned via the evaluation process for a range · "Here's the real issue here: the union contract that First of issues. Understanding and approach to the RFP, firm, Transit has with the Teamsters provides for shift and staff experience and costs are evaluated and points are work bidding based on seniority (i.e., oldest operators assessed accordingly. While we do not mandate specific pick first). As a result, ADA paratransit service generally wages, we do identify current wage scales. Liquidated dam- is staffed with the least qualified employees. The other ages and Incentives are designed to motivate contractors to issue is a general lack of training and cross training for perform within acceptable service standards." the dispatchers. Finally, these folks are simply not paid · "Many contractors are still focused on submitting the enough." `lowest bid' and operator wages make up the majority of · "We have a union here. . . . that pretty much says it all." the overall cost (ASI specifies a price per gallon to be used · "80% or so aggregate turnover in SD is an unfortunate for fuel). In the past we have encouraged that contractors reality with coach or paratransit operators. Then one has set an operator wage above a minimum ($8.50) but in to get creative so as to not have recruitment incentives many cases the wages came in at the figure (but actually directly and conversely impact retainment (e.g. free train- started much lower). We are exploring how to actually set ing leads to folks leaving for positions for even the same the wage without becoming the implied employer of the pay, for a different type operator job)." operators." · "Incentives and Liquidated Damages tied to performance Ten of the public transit agencies that indicated some, work somewhat but overall I believe the contracted opera- moderate, or good success with one or more of the strategies tors (not just the one here but ALL of them) would rather also provided more detailed information about these suc- pay liquidated damages than do the training required to get cesses. They had the following comments: a 5 star operation in place." · "Assigned points in the evaluation process focused on the · "Performance penalties and incentives seem to have some hiring of vehicle operator workforce of the previous ser- trickle down impact/incentive for the contractor to have vice provider. Those operators from the previous service staff tuned in on performance as important issue." provider are expected to be stable and experienced. New · "The contractor knows that we may `audit' operator qual- operators hired beyond those operators are required to be ification and training files. We have and may ask to see trained to strict training criteria." documentation pertaining to background and driving · "We make it clear we expect experienced, trained opera- record checks. The contractor knows we are watching. Still, tors; by setting the bar high, we have a better chance of his turnover is tremendous. It's very difficult to pay a securing such workforce through contract." decent wage and still make a profit in this business!" · "We emphasized the importance of an experienced work · "As a rule, happy people make contented workers. A con- force in the pre-bid meeting and in the RFP. We said oper- tented workforce makes good decisions and they are reli- ators need to be fairly compensated with competitive able. Requiring the contractor to provide a minimum or wages and benefits. We monitor the contractor to be sure living wage helps to ensure a more contented workforce. they follow through. We encourage the contractor to have Left to themselves, the contractor will try to keep wages as rewards and incentives for well-performing staff. We rec- low as possible. This low rate will eventually cause person- ognize good performance by individuals and reinforce nel to leave. The turnover rate increases and valuable expe- good behavior to encourage more good behavior. For exam- rience and skills are diluted or lost." ple, both District and contractor employees are eligible for · "We use liquidated damages to discourage route turn back the `I Made a Difference' award. Although not in the RFP, and operators being late for routes. There are other dam- bidders realized they had to comply w/union agreement to ages assessed for missed trips, late report submission, fail- operate if they were awarded bid. The result was a relatively ure to notify etc." high operator wage for employees. All existing staff was · "Liquidated damages have made the service providers retained." more inclined to cover runs with operators on overtime · "The Contract language is thoroughly internalized by both and be more creative about solving problems. However, MTS and the Contractor. With a contractor an agency
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48 obviously has to incentivize/penalize to set some baseline recruitment/retention `effort' front if not on the measura- expectation of service. Initially the language and/or the liv- ble rate." ing wage had impacts. Having operated for 7 years now, the recruitment/retainment issue has assumed a life of its Five public transit agencies also indicated that they had own in San Diego. Be it Paratransit, contracted fixed route, written descriptions of their procurement strategies and that internal bus, Trolley or social service transportation, the they could be contacted for more information. One agency number one shared `solution' would be `more operators.' sent actual RFP and contract language. More detailed infor- True, San Diego cost of living measures simply have out- mation about the experiences of systems that indicated mod- paced wages across the employment board. Currently, the erate or good success with innovative procurement strategies contractor exceeds even high expectations for effort on the is presented in Chapter 10.