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90 job if it is a good fit. This process also provides the applicants Best Practice: Charlotte Area Transit System, with a realistic picture of both positive and negative aspects Charlotte, NC of the job. The process consists of the following three steps: Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) operates its ADA paratransit service (STS) in-house. Vehicle operators receive a 1. The applicant views a video of what the paratransit oper- comprehensive compensation package that includes a $12.87 ator position is like. The video allows the candidates to starting wage (2008), 10 paid vacation days and 12 sick days per compare the activities and responsibilities of the job with year, as well as 9 paid holidays per year. For every 13 weeks that their own interests and preferences and to decide if they an operator does not call out sick, they receive an additional wish to proceed with the application. half day of vacation. Operators contribute $14.76 per week for 2. The applicant sits in a vehicle seat so he/she understands individual health care coverage (2008), and $96.17 per week for the feel and size of the vehicle and to determine whether family health care coverage. A 3% 401K program match is also he/she can safely reach the pedals; and provided. 3. The applicant completes a self-assessment to help him or CATS indicated a total vehicle operator workforce of 82 and her decide if this job is right for them. indicated that only 12 new hires were needed in a recent year, which suggests only a 14.6% annual turnover rate. CATS Compensation reported that it has little difficulty attracting qualified opera- An obvious major factor in attracting and retaining good tor candidates. Managers noted that no trainees have dropped employees is the level of compensation offered. Wage rates for out of training in recent years and that only two operators operators in the paratransit industry are typically rather low. have been terminated in the 90-day probationary period in the The national survey indicated that, in 2008, the average start- past 16 years. ing wage paid by private contractors was $10.47 per hour. Pub- lic agencies that directly operated service indicated slightly Best Practice: LINK Transit, Wenatchee, WA higher wages, averaging $12.06. The survey also showed that The Chelan-Douglas Public Transit Benefit Area (LINK for both public and private providers, ADA paratransit vehicle Transit) in Wenatchee, WA, has an integrated vehicle operator operators are paid less than their fixed-route counterparts. workforce with operators hired and trained to perform either Research summarized in Chapter 5 suggests that wages are a fixed-route or ADA paratransit service. LINK reported that significant factor in turnover. The research conducted indi- vehicle operators receive a $14.17 starting wage, with a maxi- cates that turnover can be decreased by 3.5% to 5.1% for every mum wage of $19.98 (2008). In 2008 the agency also reported $1.00 increase in the starting wage. that it provided 100% individual as well as family health care Following are some examples of efforts to improve vehicle coverage, 10 paid vacation days to start, 12 paid holidays, and operator compensation and examples of comprehensive com- a contribution toward a retirement plan. pensation packages reported by systems with stable workforces. LINK reported only a 14.8% annual post-training turnover rate and an 88% training completion rate. The agency also Best Practice: California Labor Code 1070-1074 noted that while vehicle operator compensation is very good "Fair wage" or "livable wage" requirements are becoming compared to other systems, the gains it has seen in produc- more common. One example, specific to public transit ser- tivity, reportedly attributed to a large degree to the experi- vices, is in the State of California, where legislation was passed enced, stable workforce have more than offset the increased in 2003 to attempt to address this issue. The legislation, now labor costs with gains in system productivity. LINK is fea- tured as a case study in Chapter 10 and more information on part of the state's labor code (California Labor Code, Section the costs and benefits of its compensation program is dis- 1070-1074, 2003), includes the following language: cussed there. . . . it serves an important social purpose to establish incentives for contractors who bid public transit services contracts to retain Best Practice: Enhanced Benefits Packages qualified employees of the prior contractor to perform the same or similar work. A common theme heard in comments from focus group participants conducted during this study was that inadequate The legislation requires that public entities bidding public employee benefits can contribute to a lack of success in transit services must give preference to bidders who agree to recruiting and retaining paratransit vehicle operators. The retain qualified employees of prior contractors. Specifically, national survey also indicated that fringe benefits provided by the legislation calls for public entities to give a 10% preference some ADA paratransit service providers, particularly private to these bidders in the bid evaluation process. contractors, can be minimal.

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91 During the course of the research, two private contractors Other practices identified in the research that reward oper- were also identified who indicated that reasonably complete ators for performance include the following: fringe packages were provided to ADA paratransit vehicle operators. Table 8-2 summarizes benefits packages offered by Paying an extra $1 or $1.50 per hour for each pay period in these two paratransit contractors. which an operator has perfect attendance (i.e., no tardiness Both companies reported that they have good success with or unexcused absences). recruiting vehicle operators and also experience low rates of Cash bonuses for extended periods of time (such as a quar- operator turnover. The attractiveness of the fringe benefits ter, 6-months, or year) without a preventable accident or offered was noted as a reason for this success. customer complaint. Other forms of recognition and prizes for good perform- Best Practice: Performance Bonuses ance, such as "Operator of the Month" recognition, gift certificates, or other rewards. Another way that companies and agencies improve compen- sation is with bonuses based on performance. This approach A unique approach to performance bonuses was also not only increases compensation for operators but reinforces reported by Veolia Transportation in Baltimore, MD. This positive behavior that benefits the provider. The following are company created a bonus program that recognized perfor- several examples of performance bonus programs utilized by mance of groups of operators which created a friendly compe- paratransit contractors in the Denver area. tition within the company. The following paragraphs describes MV Transportation provides vehicle operators with a $150 the program, dubbed "Veonopoly." bonus every 2 months if they meet three criteria: (1) do not Paratransit operators and supervisors are divided into ten have any preventable accidents; (2) have no preventable teams; teams typically include 2025 individuals each. Each injuries on vehicles they have operated; and (3) have perfect team is given $7,500 in Veonopoly "scrip" at the beginning of attendance (i.e., have no unscheduled call-outs). each quarter. Deductions and additions are made from the Global Transportation provides an annual safety bonus, scrip based on various performance measures: absenteeism, which can be up to $150, if an operator has no preventable tardiness, accidents, and rider complaints and compliments. accidents. Global also provides an attendance bonus. Oper- At the end of the quarter, the team that has earned the most ators are eligible to receive $150 if they have fewer than three money is paid that amount in cash by the company, to be unscheduled call-outs in a 6-month period, or $100 if they divided equally among team members. have fewer than five unscheduled call-outs in a 6-month Veolia reported that the implementation of this program, period. together with more targeted recruitment and more thorough Coach USA offers $120 to operators each month who have checks of prior employment, helped them lower annual post- no "events"--preventable accidents, tardiness, or unsched- training turnover rates from 75% in the first half of 2007 to uled call-outs. between 28% and 52% at various times in 2008 and 2009. Table 8-2. Fringe benefits provided by Seattle Personal Transit and Special Transit. Paratransit Provider Benefits Seattle Personal Employees who work 20 hours or more per week (after 6 months of Transit (Seattle, WA) employment) on a regular basis: Holiday pay of 80 hours/year. Paid leave based on years of service with ability to bank leave up to 180 hours. Excess hours paid out in cash. Health, Dental, Short- and Long-term Disability Benefits. Employee Assistance Program. 3% contribution of gross wages to pension fund (even if employee chooses not to contribute). Special Transit Medical, Dental, Basic and Supplemental Life Insurance. (Denver, CO) Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance. Short and Long-term Disability Insurance. Flexible Spending Account. 403b Plan. Employee Assistance Program (for anyone in employee's household). Vacation, sick, holiday pay, and floating holidays.