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5 CHAPTER 1 Background Study Issues, Goals, "The main thing we are finding," said a Contract Adminis- trator, "is that the contractor is reporting very high operator and Methodology turnover--50% last year--and doesn't have enough operators to Aside from having the financial resources necessary to meet cover all of the scheduled runs. They use whatever extraboard operators they have to cover scheduled absences but don't have service demand, one of the greatest challenges facing providers enough operators to cover same-day call-outs. A lot of trips end of American with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) complemen- up being put back on the unscheduled list each morning when tary paratransit service is maintaining an experienced and sta- they can't pull all of the runs out. We also noted that they often ble workforce--particularly vehicle operators. Consider the end up closing out runs the evening before if they don't have following hypothetical scenarios, meant to illustrate some of enough operators scheduled for the next day. This has made the scheduling very tight, and there are a lot of add-ons on the day the commonly reported issues. of service. I think the add-ons are leading to longer on-board times and routing that takes riders out-of-the-way." The Manager of a paratransit service provider called a meeting "In the next RFP that we put out next year, we are going to have with her senior management team to discuss the ongoing prob- to try and address this issue," said the Paratransit Manager. "We lem of vehicle operator availability. "It seems that no matter what added incentives and liquidated damages last time, and we have we do, we are always short on operators," she said. "Let's go over been using those, but we may need to do more. And even though what we are doing here and come up with some solutions." we really stressed in the last RFP the need to provide a stable "We have ongoing ads in all the papers and signs on vehicles, workforce, it didn't end up changing the operator compensation and we still can't get enough applicants," noted the HR Manager. very much. The winning bidder had wages and compensation "And then, if we get applicants, we are having difficulty getting that were not a lot higher than the last contractor. How can we get them to pass all of the background, driving, and drug testing bidders to address this issue better?" requirements that the transit agency requires." And back at the garage, a new vehicle operator was just pulling "I have 10 people in training right now," the Lead Trainer out to start her run. It was a 6-hour afternoon run. She worked reported. "But based on past experience, we'll be lucky if five stick weekends and a few weekday afternoons but was still only getting with it and complete the training." 35 hours a week. The best shifts had already been picked by the "I will probably have five new vacancies in the next month," time it was her turn to select runs. The last few afternoons of work said the Operations Manager. "We still have rapid turnover with had been tough. She was in a part of town that she didn't know about half of the workforce--those with the least seniority. If we very well, and the traffic had been bad. The schedules seemed to be can't get applicants and get them through training faster than very tight, and the dispatchers were so busy that she wasn't always that, we won't gain at all on the number of operators we need. comfortable asking them for assistance. She ended up running And the service is growing, so our operator needs are likely to almost an hour late by the end of each day and didn't feel that her increase faster than we are bringing on new people." performance was good. Riders were also rightfully frustrated with "Well let's think of some more things we can do," the Manager the service, which made it even more stressful. "I know that over requested. "We can't keep operating this way. It's starting to affect time I will get more knowledgeable about the area and each rider," our ability to provide the capacity required and service quality." she thought, "but right now, this is really hard. I really don't know Across the City, in the public transit offices, the transit agency's if I can stick this out. The city is looking for school bus operators," Paratransit Manager was meeting with the Contract Administrator she recalled. "That has got to be easier, and they pay just as much." to discuss the same issue. "On-time performance dropped from 95% to 90% last year Similar meetings, conversations, and situations seem to and riders are saying that routing has gotten worse," he noted. "We got the budget increase we needed this year and we have occur frequently across the country. Recent studies of ADA added the vehicles that the contractor wanted, so what else do we paratransit services and compliance reviews conducted by the need to do to get performance to meet standards again?" Federal Transit Administration (FTA) have identified vehicle