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8 CHAPTER 2 Understanding Vehicle Operator Recruitment and Retention Issues Literature Review is a white paper prepared by the New York Public Transit Asso- ciation, Inc., (NYPTA), a not-for-profit association represent- The first task of the study was to conduct a search of the lit- ing the public transit industry throughout the state. The paper, erature related to vehicle operator recruitment, retention, and entitled Key Issues and Concerns Facing New York State's performance. The review encompassed paratransit-specific Transit Industry, discussed one step several New York transit literature searches as well as a review of literature in vehicle agencies have taken to cut costs and improve operational effi- operations, in public transit in general, and in the school bus ciencies: analyzing and addressing high operator-related costs, and trucking sectors. Literature reviews in the limousine and including steps to improve operator retention rates, create taxi sectors were also conducted. While the review revealed a performance objectives, reduce absenteeism rates, and reduce limited number of paratransit-specific studies, it did provide overtime costs (1). considerable information relevant to the focus of the current Surveys conducted by METRO Magazine for several years study. In addition to transportation industry literature, the highlight challenges related to maintaining a sufficient number review includes findings on how issues of employee recruit- of qualified paratransit operators. The publication's 2005 Para- ment, retention, and performance are being addressed within transit Survey of 40 paratransit operators of varying sizes in the today's marketplace in general. United States and Canada found respondents cited the recruit- The first part of the literature review focuses on factors that ment and retention of operators as the most challenging affect the industry's ability to maintain an experienced and sta- operator-related concern. The 2006 survey of 36 randomly- ble workforce of paratransit operators. Quite a number of writ- selected paratransit providers in the United States and Canada ings focus on internal factors related to these issues. External again found that recruitment and retention of vehicle operators factors within the general work environment have also received remained the chief operator-related issue plaguing providers. significant attention. In some cases, the factors of recruitment, Likewise, in the 2007 survey, 70% of reporting organizations retention, and performance have been addressed singularly stated that operator recruitment and retention remained the and other times the focus has been on the synergistic effect of "biggest operator-related" concern (2, 3, 4). these factors in maintaining a sufficient quantity of qualified In the 2005 National Council on Disability study report, paratransit operators. The Current State of Transportation for People with Disabilities A list of references cited is provided at the end of this report. in the United States, a comparison between fixed-route and Throughout this chapter, the terms "vehicle operators" and paratransit vehicle operators revealed that pay differences "drivers" are sometimes used interchangeably since they were between the two groups have an impact on vehicle operator both used in the cited reports and articles. retention. As a general rule, pay and benefits for fixed-route bus operators are noted to be higher than for paratransit operators. The rationale often given for this pay discrepancy An Overview of Paratransit Vehicle is that the fixed-route operator's job is more difficult. The Operator Issues study found, however, that the salary differential is not nec- Writings from a variety of sources speak to the current essarily based on any objective comparison of the two jobs, research topic: challenges facing providers of ADA comple- but rather, historic roots (5). mentary paratransit service in maintaining an experienced and The 2000 TRB report entitled State of the Art Paratransit stable workforce--particularly vehicle operators. One source noted that strategies adopted by transit agencies to reduce