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51 a wage that will attract individuals with the right attitude who what percentage of paratransit operators who were assigned to can handle the rigors of shared-ride paratransit operations. split shifts indicated that some full-time paratransit operators Several vehicle operators and managers who participated in were assigned in this way. On average, 22% of full-time oper- focus group discussions indicated that some people quit ators in these systems worked split shifts. because they are able to find employment with equal pay but a The survey also revealed that most ADA paratransit vehicle lot less demanding. operators pick work shifts based on seniority. This is the case in 55 (81%) of the 68 systems that responded to the question about how work was assigned to vehicle operators. Thirteen Benefits systems (19%) assigned work to operators as needed. None of Another important part of the compensation equation are the systems indicated that operators are hired for specific work the fringe benefits provided. These must be appropriate given shifts. Full-time, straight shifts tend to be selected by senior the labor market and able to compete with other similar employees which means that recruitment must often focus on employers. The benefits package must also consider the wages filling the less desirable evening, weekend, part-time or split and income level of employees. The research indicated that shifts. To provide new employees with enough hours to ensure while many service providers indicate that they offer health a reasonable weekly income, part-time weekday shifts are often benefits, the employee contributions required often put these combined with weekend work. The resulting weekly work benefits beyond the reach of most vehicle operators. For exam- shifts offered to new recruits most often interfere with appli- ple, the national survey found that in private contractor oper- cants' lifestyles or with family or other demands. ated paratransit programs the average contribution required Creating work shifts that are more conducive to a reasonable for an individual's health care coverage was 33%, and the aver- lifestyle can help to improve recruitment efforts. This is also an age contribution for family health care coverage was 50%. In important factor in retaining vehicle operators. While some dollar terms, family coverage typically requires a contribution productivity might be lost by not trimming runs and shifts to of $500 per month or more, and average starting wages in pri- match service demand exactly, this loss of productivity might vate contractor operations was only $10.47 per hour. be offset by lower recruitment costs, lower training costs, and Not offering health care benefits, in particular, can limit the improved efficiency through better retention. the pool of potential applicants. Applicants with families and Although not reported to be widely used in current para- applicants without other ways to obtain health care coverage transit operations, pay differentials may also be helpful in this may place a premium on this particular benefit. Approximately area. If filling evening and weekend shifts as well as split-shifts 80% of the focus group operators from challenged (high proves to be difficult, a slightly higher wage might be offered turnover) systems commented that benefits for paratransit for these less desirable assignments. The literature search indi- vehicle operators were inadequate. One operator related: "We cated that pay differentials are successfully used in the trucking need better benefits. Always changing insurance and giving us industry. The survey of current ADA paratransit operations, bad benefits." Another operator, citing inequities in benefits however, found that only a few paratransit providers utilize pay between fixed-route and paratransit operators stated: "The differentials. people who drive the big buses get more holidays than para- transit operators." Recruitment Efforts Innovative recruitment efforts can also be used to attract Work Shifts "the right" employees. Signing bonuses and referral bonuses The run structure and the work shifts created to cover runs are offered by many systems and service providers. Typically, can also have a significant impact on recruitment efforts. To these bonuses range from $200 to $500. To help with retention, provide capacity during both morning and afternoon peak some systems offer to pay part of the bonus at the time the new time periods and to also minimize excess capacity during mid- recruit is employed and then to pay the remainder of the bonus day and evening hours, many systems have a number of split after the new employee completes a certain period of employ- and part-time shifts. Some operators are asked to work several ment (e.g., 90 days). Research completed for TCRP Report 77: hours through the morning peak, take a 23 hour unpaid Managing Transit's Workforce in the New Millennium (27) break during the middle of the day, and then work for several found employee referral programs to be a best practice of using hours through the afternoon peak. This practice of split shifts internal recruitment resources within the transit industry. The is sometimes unpopular with vehicle operators and excessive study report included five examples of how transit agencies use of split shifts could affect job satisfaction and retention. design and implement referral programs. While the amount of The national survey revealed that 42 (63%) of the 67 public referral payments differed from agency to agency, the concepts and private contractors that responded to the question about of how to make the program meaningful were the same. For