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49 CHAPTER 4 Model of Factors That Affect Vehicle Operator Recruitment, Retention, and Performance Information gathered from the literature search, focus the particular disability or disabilities of each rider, and there groups, and national survey was used to develop a model to are many different types of disabilities. ADA paratransit vehi- depict key factors in ADA paratransit vehicle operator recruit- cle operators must bring to the job a high level of disability ment, retention, and performance. This chapter describes the awareness, sensitivity, and passenger assistance and customer model and the factors that were identified. Several key inter- service skills. relationships between the various factors in the model are also Shared-ride paratransit service is also more complex discussed. Finally, the underlying causal factors that affect oper- than operating a fixed-route bus or taxi. Schedules can be ator recruitment and retention are also explored. demanding and must be understood and carried out cor- rectly. Vehicle operators must also be familiar with all parts of the service area, rather than a set route, as pick-ups and The "Performance Pyramid" drop-offs can happen throughout the area and in varying Figure 4-1 illustrates, at a very "macro" level, the key factors sequences. that impact vehicle operator performance. The factors form a It is therefore important to attract and recruit not just "Performance Pyramid." At the base of the pyramid, there are "drivers" but individuals who can become successful ADA three key ingredients for eventual high performance. These are complementary paratransit vehicle operators. Several internal recruiting "The Right" employees, providing these recruits and external factors must be considered in this process. These and employees with effective training and appropriate tools, factors are illustrated in Figure 4-2 and explained in the follow- and providing the necessary support from other parts of the ing paragraphs. organization and a positive work environment that will enable vehicle operators to perform to the maximum of their abilities. Developing an Employee Profile Job satisfaction and retention then form the middle of the and Pre-Qualifications pyramid. It is vital that quality vehicle operators are retained. The experience and skills gained by vehicle operators over time Most ADA paratransit service providers have a set of will have a direct impact on daily performance. Job satisfaction required pre-qualifications for vehicle operators. In many not only will be a major determinant in the decision to remain cases these are defined by contractual requirements or by with the organization but will impact the attitude that vehicle law or insurance requirements. For insurance purposes or operators bring to the job each day--a second key ingredient because of the type of vehicle used in the provision of service, in performance. Each part of this "Performance Pyramid" is vehicle operators may need to have a certain type of license affected by numerous internal and external factors. These are and may need to be a minimum age or older. Since passenger explained in more detail in the following paragraphs. safety and safe vehicle operation is of paramount importance, most systems and service providers require good driving records and criminal background checks. Federal and some Attracting and Selecting state laws require that vehicle operators pass drug screening "The Right" Employees tests. To ensure that service is effectively provided, many sys- Operating ADA paratransit service is much more than sim- tems and providers also require proficiency in English. ply "driving." A high degree of direct assistance must often be In addition to meeting the safety, legal, and contractual provided to riders. The types of assistance provided depend on requirements, it is important to consider the inherent skills