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Operations Decision Process 41 bination of the methods described or use a different unit to allocate costs. When determining what method of cost allocation to use, the transit agency should consider the effort and record- keeping required to adequately implement a cost allocation process. The advantages and disad- vantages of each suggested cost allocation method need to be weighed. C. Identify Reporting Requirements and Assess Technology Needs When developing protocols for commingling riders, it is especially important to ensure com- prehensive data capture that reflects all the required elements and rider types represented in the system. Each funding agency as well as the transit agency usually has its own reporting require- ments and proper data are needed to substantiate invoices, provide statistical reporting, and monitor performance. The source of the data may either be reported manually (e.g., from paper driver manifests, scheduling and dispatch logs, and similar sources) or captured electronically from transportation operations software. Paratransit Reporting There are three main types of reporting: Service delivery statistics Performance statistics Billing and invoicing statistics All three are inter-related and depend on capturing valid service delivery statistics including number of trips, revenue miles, revenue hours, origin/destination locations, no-shows, missed trips, cancellations, scheduled/actual arrival and departure times at the pick-up and drop-off locations, and other data elements that reflect service on the street. Such service delivery statis- tics are used to generate a variety of reports, including annual National Transit Database (NTD) reporting and are the source data used for performance monitoring and billing/invoicing. Performance statistics use the base data collected by service delivery statistics to calculate outcomes, which are measured against the service policies that have been set for on-time performance, productivity, travel time, and the like. Finally, billing and invoicing statistics are derived from the service delivery statistics, as well as information from billing codes attached to each trip (i.e., funding sources such as Medicaid, Title III or transit agency funds for ADA service). Although ADA paratransit does not require documentation of trip type or individual service usage by individuals, that information may be required by some funding agencies for invoicing purposes. Other areas to incorporate into performance reporting include eligibility determination doc- umentation, no-shows and late cancellation information, telephone call center performance, and maintenance performance. For example, a tracking system should be developed to ensure adher- ence to the 21-day rule for reviewing completed ADA paratransit applications. Specific informa- tion about no-shows and late cancellations is needed to review riders' adherence to any estab- lished policy on no-shows/late cancels and then to document to riders who may fail to adhere to those policies with a pattern or practice of no-shows and late cancels. To establish any pattern or practice, detailed data are needed. Any appeals for eligibility denials or no-show suspensions must also be tracked. Complaints should be kept in a central file, preferably electronically. It is important to track denials and no-shows by ADA versus non-ADA riders. Complaints should also be distinguished between the two rider types as well.

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42 Resource Guide for Commingling ADA and Non-ADA Paratransit Riders The collection and assessment of performance statistics are necessary to ensure compliance with the ADA but doing so is also just good practice to ensure that service is being operated effi- ciently and effectively. Technology as a Tool Advancements in technology have enhanced the ability of paratransit providers to coordi- nate different transportation programs, and the federal government and many state govern- ments have funded projects to continue the advances. For example, Mobility Services for All Americans (MSAA), which is an ongoing project sponsored by the U.S. DOT's ITS Joint Program Office, is highlighting the use of technology as a tool to assist with coordination efforts, includ- ing commingling ADA and non-ADA riders. The initiative identifies many technologies that may be beneficial for this type of application including the following two categories of software (SAIC 2005): "Transportation operations software" [e.g., reservations, scheduling, and dispatching soft- ware, often including geographic information systems (GIS)] "Cost sharing, billing, and reporting software" (e.g., automated billing linked to reconciled trip status) The two types of software are supported by other software and hardware applications includ- ing automatic call distribution (ACD) systems, automatic vehicle location (AVL), electronic fare payment, Advanced Traveler Information Systems (e.g., kiosks and Internet-based services), along with GIS, and other emerging technologies. Technology Interface Effective use of paratransit technology should begin with an assessment of data needs and reporting needs, which then leads to an assessment of technology needs. The technology assess- ment is straightforward and should include the following: Analyzing what technology is currently available and being used in the industry Establishing what technology is needed to manage commingled service Determining whether and what new technologies (or technology enhancements) are desirable The technology needs assessment should describe the existing systems, the anticipated enhance- ments or new systems needed, and an estimate of cost, called a Systems Implementation Plan (SIP). Included in the estimate of cost is not only the cost of acquisition, but the operating and maintenance costs for the various technologies selected. The SIP is not only an assessment of the additional hardware and/or software required and the cost of procurement. It should also include an assessment of the impact on current personnel and any additional personnel or skills needed to implement and maintain the technology. For example, the implementation of new technology may require the hiring of a systems administrator or database administrator. The assessment of technology needs should also include identifying data to be collected and required report formats. Once a clear understanding of the data to be collected and required report formats are obtained, the transit agency can complete the assessment of any changes needed to current technology and make the necessary revisions to current technology. When the technology assessment is complete, the agency can then develop specific procedures for report- ing and revise current report formats or create new report formats, if necessary. A summary of the factors to consider includes the following: Ascertain program reporting requirements Review non-ADA program requirements in terms of standards set in previous section

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Operations Decision Process 43 Develop reporting procedures Establish reporting format and protocols Assess technology requirements including the following: Telephone system capability Reservations/scheduling software and hardware Accounting system Two-way radios Mobile data terminals (MDTs) Fare payment and collection including smart cards and other cashless payment systems Procure needed technology Develop detailed reporting policies and procedures It should be remembered that technology is only a tool; it is not a substitute for sound decision- making and staff expertise. There is no substitute for a well-thought-out approach to providing service and monitoring performance. In addition to technology needs, a staffing assessment must also be performed to ensure that there are enough people employed to support the work at hand. Adding commingled service may also mean adding call center staff and telephone lines. If separate telephone lines will be needed for different programs, there may be a need to produce reports from the telephone system showing calls to the various lines. Discussion Not surprisingly, a large percentage of survey respondents indicated that they use some form of technology to manage their programs. The majority of the responses indicated that they use paratransit scheduling and dispatching software, AVL, and MDTs or mobile data computers (MDCs) to manage service. Table 2-1 shows the responses to the project's survey question on the use of technology. The majority (89%) of commingled systems reported using computerized scheduling and dis- patching software; 100% of systems that provided ADA and non-ADA paratransit service using different vehicles reported using computerized scheduling and dispatching software. Almost half (48%) of commingled systems use MDCs/MDTs, 42% reported using AVL, and 25% used elec- tronic recordkeeping and billing. In contrast, for systems that are not commingled, 67% use MDCs/MDTs and AVL; however, the number of respondents is very low. During the case study interviews, use of technology was explored. The large majority of tran- sit agencies participating in the case study research use some form of advanced technology, most Table 2-1. Technologies used for paratransit service. ADA + Other ADA + Other Same Vehicles Separate Vehicles Technology N=52 N=9 Scheduling and dispatching 89% 100% software Mobile data 48% 67% terminals/computers Automatic vehicle locator 42% 67% Electronic recordkeeping 25% 0% and billing Interactive voice 0% 22% recognition Internet access for 6% 11% passengers for scheduling Electronic fare payment 2% 11.1% None 8% 0% Other 17% 22%