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44 Resource Guide for Commingling ADA and Non-ADA Paratransit Riders commonly reservations, scheduling, and dispatching software, which also was used to generate billing statistics, although this was not always directly connected through the software's pro- gramming. The one notable exception is ACCESS Services of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. ACCESS operates as a decentralized brokerage, subcontracting with eight carriers, and only one of the eight contracted carriers uses technology to provide service. During the interviews, case study agencies were also asked about their use of technology for reporting. Most of the sites indicated that they were using software for reporting purposes. The Regional Transportation Program (RTP) in Portland, Maine, indicated that its use of paratran- sit scheduling and dispatching software is beneficial for categorizing trips by funding source or program and, therefore, has been helpful in the billing process. However, RTP noted that the use of technology has not helped with the scheduling of rides as much as was anticipated. PARTA in Kent, Ohio, also found that the software enhanced the ability to commingle trips by accurately tracking the individual trips, which then enabled the agency to properly account for trips to its funding source. Other sites noted some problems using the technology for reporting purposes. Ottumwa Transit Authority (OTA) indicated it uses software for collecting the information necessary for required state and NTD reporting. However, OTA also reported that it was not able to use the software directly to generate reports and invoices for the various funding sources. Waukesha Metro Transit also indicated that data reporting by its non-profit provider has been problem- atic, in particular because the NTD definitions do not address commingled service. While not a "technology" problem per se, Waukesha Metro Transit believes that the introduction of MDC technology would help to resolve this issue. Transit Authority of River City (TARC) in Louisville, Kentucky, has a state-of-the-art reser- vations/scheduling/dispatch system and all authority-owned vehicles are equipped with MDTs with AVL. It was anticipated that this technology would be useful in tracking the riders by various programs, although TARC has had problems using the system to maintain the recordkeeping relative to rides by funding source. The issues raised with regard to reporting problems seems to indicate that it is important to understand the reporting needs for all types of service. The research findings also suggest the need to account for and ensure that available or future technology has the capability of captur- ing and reporting the necessary data. D. Develop Marketing, Education, and Monitoring Programs Now that the transit agency has progressed through the initial planning phase, established the service operating policies and procedures, and moved to implementation, it is time to market the program and, once service begins, to perform ongoing monitoring to ensure that the pro- gram is providing service in accordance with the stated performance standards. Marketing and Education Program Transit agencies sometimes express concerns about "marketing" and "promoting" the use of paratransit services, which are expensive on a per trip basis when compared with fixed route, but agencies will acknowledge that it is important to educate riders and stakeholders about the avail- ability of the service, who is eligible to use it for what types of trips, and how to use the service. Education is particularly important for commingled systems where it may be confusing for riders

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Operations Decision Process 45 and potential riders to understand service eligibility and operational differences when traveling with others in a commingled, shared ride system. It is also important to thoroughly educate and train transit agency staff that will be providing the service: everyone from vehicle operators to call center staff, customer service, and managers. It is especially important for staff to understand the different program eligibility requirements to understand why service is provided as it is. For instance, vehicle operators at one transit agency said it was difficult to explain to riders why one particular rider who was funded by the JARC program was able to travel outside the ADA paratransit service area when others riding on the same vehicle could not travel to the same destination. Similarly, riders will notice when other passengers are not asked to pay fares and may question the vehicle operator about why the rider was given a "free ride." Such questions should be anticipated and included in the vehicle operator training sessions. Discussion Traditional written marketing methods were used by most of the transit agencies interviewed in the research project, which often included short descriptive brochures highlighting service and providing contact information and specifics about how to schedule a trip. Some agencies pre- pared lengthier user guides with more detailed information about the program. More transit agencies are also now relying on their own Internet sites to post information about their services, along with Twitter, YouTube, and other social networks--a recent phenom- enon for marketing transit services. Pace in suburban Chicago, which manages one of the largest ADA paratransit and Dial-a-Ride networks in the country, makes extensive use of its website to provide information about the various paratransit programs that are available. Transit agencies that commingle ADA and non-ADA services should consider creating both general overview materials as well as materials that are targeted to the specific commingled rider groups. All riders may not need to have the specifics of every commingled service, so a lengthy user guide with information about all the programs may be too cumbersome as well as expen- sive to produce. It may be appropriate to have a short "overview" piece with general informa- tion, which also indicates that different services are provided, and separate marketing pieces tar- geted to the individual commingled groups. The transit agency may also need to consider the amount of information that is needed depending on the different commingled rider groups. If the service is more public--obviously the ADA paratransit service is an example--then more detailed information may be appropriate. But if the transit agency has a small contract to pro- vide service to a small group of sponsored riders traveling to and from a senior center program, for example, then less marketing information may be required for the small group of riders. In Olympia, Washington, Intercity Transit operates commingled paratransit services and has separate marketing and public information materials for the individual programs that are com- mingled, as the programs have differing service requirements, policies, and procedures. However, even if detailed descriptions of the services offered on the commingled system are not provided to all riders, it may be helpful to list the various commingled programs so that riders will know about other programs that they might also be able to use. It should go without saying that any written materials should also be made available in acces- sible formats such as large print, audiotape, Braille, or electronic files that can be read by screen readers. Education materials should be provided in various formats including written materials (e.g., brochures, newsletters, and bulletins), presentations at meetings and activity fairs, through written and audio public service announcements, and other efforts. Some agencies have found that marketing and "branding" services help to explain the differences for passengers and the

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46 Resource Guide for Commingling ADA and Non-ADA Paratransit Riders general public. They also found that education efforts cannot be a one-time event--for exam- ple, when riders begin using the program--but must be continual and sustained over time. Monitoring Monitoring is essential for any paratransit service but critically important for ADA paratran- sit. A commingled ADA and non-ADA paratransit program must establish a comprehensive monitoring program to collect operational data and analyze that data on a routine basis to track trends, review performance, and watch for unexpected system usage or changes. When monitoring service, it is important to track performance of the overall paratransit sys- tem, as well as track the individual performance of the commingled components. As has been stated throughout this report, it is critical to track ADA paratransit performance and to flag any issues that may arise relating to below par service performance. Remember ADA paratransit is a civil rights program that must afford unrestricted access to service for eligible trips. Transit agen- cies that commingle services must be sure to monitor the following six key ADA service criteria: Service area--sometimes fixed route service areas change; do not forget to make adjustments as needed Service days/hours--service may need to be adjusted if fixed route service changes. Fares Trip purpose Service availability Capacity constraints--service may not be constrained based on capacity constraints [examples of capacity constraints are substantial trip denials, substantial untimely pick-ups, substantial missed trips, or substantial long trips (compared with fixed route service)] Capacity constraints is perhaps the most critical ADA service criterion to monitor. Ridership patterns and increasing demand from riders may impact or degrade service performance. In such cases, transit agencies must make adjustments to ensure there are no capacity constraints. If on-time performance decreases, for example, or travel times begin to lengthen, it may be that the system is at or over capacity and some action will be needed to relieve the pressure. Additional capacity may be needed, or other actions need to be considered to improve service performance. If service performance remains sub-standard, the transit agency may need to consider limit- ing service for non-ADA riders. Keep in mind, however, that the ADA does not require perfec- tion. But if a pattern or practice of denying trips, providing long ride times, making late pickups and/or drop-offs are noted, they must be corrected. Beyond the six ADA criteria, transit agencies should monitor and evaluate service performance through other efforts and assess the different individual services that are commingled to look for any performance differences between the commingled rider groups that merit additional attention. These additional efforts and operational issues to review may include the following: Customer comment/complaints--establishing a customer comment process so that riders, their caregivers, and other stakeholders can provide feedback (either compliments or complaints) to the transit agency. Driver wait time--measuring whether the vehicle operator waited the appropriate amount of time and at the correct location before requesting a rider be marked as no show. No show/late cancel policy with consequences--establishing a clear, measurable, and enforceable no show/late cancel policy with appropriate consequences. Agency/program specific policies--monitoring policies such as service only to a specific group of clients (e.g., age, income, or residence); or for specific trips (e.g., medical, senior center, or jobs).

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Operations Decision Process 47 It also is important to monitor the performance of all trip categories provided individually and in the aggregate. If, for example, the transit agency is under contract to a senior center to provide service for that center's participants, then it is still expected that the transit agency's com- mingled service will meet the agreed-upon service level. Group subscription trips are one area to watch because trips attempting to serve larger groups of people on a demand response basis can become excessively long if too many riders are grouped on one vehicle at the same time. Procedures and protocols should be monitored at least monthly. Decide whether to review all the trips provided or a representative sample of trips, depending on the number of trips pro- vided. The review should include whether or not the six ADA criteria and other relevant service criteria are being met. ADA requirements are a priority, so if adjustments to policies and service provisions are needed to ensure adequate service performance, the adjustments for ADA purposes must come first. Following this, other service adjustments can be made. System policies and performance measures should be reviewed at least annually and be revised and updated as needed. Finally, monitoring data and information can inform the transit agency's service planning process. Information gathered and trends that are tracked through service monitoring can be very beneficial for supporting and informing planning decisions as well as providing realistic esti- mates of service growth or patterns of change.