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81 CHAPTER 8 Examples of Reported Practices and Tools Chapter 4 introduced the "Performance Pyramid" as a way Characteristics of Successful ADA of illustrating the key factors shown through this multi-faceted Paratransit Operators research to have an impact on the performance of paratransit vehicle operators. The base "building blocks" of the "Perfor- Information from the new employee training manual of a mance Pyramid" are the following: national private provider of paratransit services; data from focus groups conducted with paratransit operators, super- Finding the right employees for the job, visors and managers; and the recruitment and training ma- Providing effective training and tools for new operators, and terials used by two other national companies were analyzed Fostering a supportive work environment. to identify common characteristics of a successful paratran- sit vehicle operator. This chapter presents insights from survey respondents A minimum of nine characteristics were identified from and focus group participants as well as tools and best prac- these combined data sources. The following four characteris- tices employed by paratransit providers to build the founda- tics were cited by all five sources: tion of the Performance Pyramid. The examples and best practices described in this chapter were identified through the Meets safety, legal, and contractual requirements; national survey as well as through subsequent contact with Is responsible; selected ADA paratransit service providers. Is safe; and Has a customer service attitude that extends to persons with disabilities and seniors. Attracting and Selecting "The Right" Employees Other characteristics that were identified by three or more To attract the applicants who are best suited to the ADA sources include personal attributes like: paratransit vehicle operator position, the first tasks for man- agers is to (1) identify the type of applicant they hope to Resourceful, attract by thinking about the traits and behaviors of a success- Shows empathy, ful candidate and (2) create a job description that will help Communicates well, candidates understand the competencies and skills required Reliable, to accomplish essential tasks and meet the needs of the organi- Flexible, and zation. Effective techniques for recruiting and screening can- Cooperative. didates and competitive wage and benefit packages can also help to attract a pool of potential paratransit vehicle opera- The full results of the analysis are provided in Table 8-1. As tors with the greatest chance of success on the job. Guidance indicated, it is important to attract and recruit not just "driv- on all of these topics has been extracted from the project's lit- ers" but individuals who can become successful ADA com- erature review, paratransit provider survey, focus groups, and plementary paratransit vehicle operators. It was interesting to interviews with selected providers and is presented through- note that only one source cited motivated or follows direc- out this chapter. tions as characteristic of a successful operator.

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82 Table 8-1. Characteristics of the successful ADA paratransit operator. Operator Sup/Mgr National National National Focus Focus Company Company Company Total Characteristic Group Groups A B C Responses Meets safety, legal, and 5 contractual requirements Responsible 5 Resourceful 3 Shows empathy 4 Works well 3 with others Attentive 2 Conscientious 4 Motivated 1 Safe 5 Communicates 3 well Reliable 4 Navigates well 2 Follows 1 directions Flexible 4 Cooperative 4 Customer service attitude, including with 5 people with disabilities and seniors Desire to help 2 others Total # of 10 10 9 16 12 Characteristics The national survey revealed that most ADA paratransit Driving Skills are Easier to Acquire service providers require pre-qualifications for vehicle oper- Than the Right Attitude ators. All 69 public agencies and private contractors that pro- vided information require a good driving record, criminal These results are consistent with Burkett's rec- background checks, and pre-employment drug and alcohol ommendation in 60 Ways to Improve Driver tests. All but one have a minimum age requirement, while Recruitment and Retention (22)--"hire attitude sixty (87 percent) require proficiency in English. CDL licenses and train skills." This perspective was echoed are required of all vehicle operators at 29 (42 percent) of the during an interview with an access to the arts 69 systems. Another 16 systems (23 percent) reported an advocate for people with disabilities in Louisville, assortment of other pre-qualification requirements. Kentucky. This individual, a long-time user of Comments from focus group participants revealed that paratransit services, stated: "It's all about atti- vehicle operators may come from diverse backgrounds, but tude. Not just attitudes towards people with one common factor in their decision to apply for and remain disabilities, but attitudes about their jobs. They on the job is a sense of accomplishment working with the have to believe that their job is important and public and assisting riders with disabilities. The general man- humanize their customers. Companies should ager for one Denver RTD paratransit contractor stated: "If hire people with the right attitude and teach the person has been a caregiver, the company can teach him them how to drive the vehicles and operate the or her to drive versus someone who loves to drive but does accessible equipment." not have empathy for the paratransit passenger." This per- spective was echoed by other paratransit contractors. A long-