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24 written logs of the incident timeline to rectify any inconsis- step to move WSDOT and WSP from discussing goals to actu- tencies. The achievement of the 90-min clearance goal is ally getting things accomplished. Assigning joint responsibility reported jointly by WSDOT and WSP; both agencies are to the two agencies for the reporting of the 90-min incident accountable for this performance measure. The 90-min clear- clearance goal was also important. WSDOT and WSP already ance goal is reported as part of the Government Management had a strong working relationship, but the joint responsibility Accountability and Performance Program and in the WSDOT required even closer coordination between the agencies because Gray Notebook. they were both measured against the same goal. For the Instant Tow Dispatch Program, WSDOT keeps WSDOT has learned to speak the other agency's language to track of the total number of calls each year, as well as the effectively communicate. By hiring a former WSP officer to number of calls requiring tows, the number canceled, and the serve as the WSDOT incident response program manager, number of dry runs. Total cost for reimbursement of dry runs WSDOT was able to effectively communicate with WSP and also is tracked. present ideas and programs that could be mutually beneficial. The importance of a good Department of Transportation maintenance program was noted as necessary for effective Benefits incident response. If WSDOT thinks an incident will last Since the JOPS Agreement was put into place, WSDOT and more than an hour, it calls for WSDOT maintenance to come WSP have seen numerous benefits regarding incident response. to the scene and establish a traffic control system that is com- It was noted during the interview that after the 90-min clear- pliant with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices ance goal was first discussed in the late 1990s, there were few (MUTCD). This makes the incident scene safer for both emer- formal actions to help achieve those goals. The JOPS Agree- gency management responders and motorists and relieves the ment formally documented the goal, identified specific actions incident response team so they can respond to other incidents that were needed, and put people at WSDOT and WSP in if necessary. charge of accomplishing these actions. The JOPS Agreement Finally, so that they can share ideas and learn from each defined how performance would be measured and ensured other, WSDOT works closely with several other states, includ- that performance was measured consistently across the state. ing Wisconsin and Florida, which are considered to have out- The information from these performance measures has standing incident management programs. been useful to WSDOT when seeking additional funding because it can clearly demonstrate its progress toward impor- Analysis and Research Observations tant statewide goals. One of the most significant benefits to both WSDOT and The Incident Response Program in Washington is successful WSP was the joint reporting of the 90-min incident clearance because WSDOT and WSP have a close working relationship goal required in the Government Management Accountability and coordinate well with each other. The agencies, further and Performance Program. This forced WSDOT and WSP to strengthening their relationship with the JOPS Agreement, partner together closely and each dedicated the resources that have taken the time to evaluate the performance of their pro- were needed to reach this common goal. grams and can show clear benefits that have allowed great buy- The Instant Tow Dispatch Program has resulted in sig- in around the state and assisted WSDOT in finding funding to nificant benefits for WSDOT at minimal cost. A University of continue programs. They have also involved the leadership of Washington study found that without the Instant Tow Dis- both organizations by requiring that both the WSDOT secre- patch Program, it would take an average of 18 min to dispatch tary and the WSP chief sign the JOPS Agreement. This has a tow truck after an incident is detected and verified. With the added credibility to the document and increased the priority Instant Tow Dispatch Program, it takes an average of 3 min to both agencies put on accomplishing the JOPS Agreement goals. dispatch a tow truck. The program has reduced the time for a tow truck to arrive at an incident by approximately 15 min for Florida: FDOT Road Rangers most incidents. WSDOT looked at the savings this created in terms of lost time and wasted fuel from congestion and esti- The Florida Road Rangers are a freeway service patrol operated mated that for less than $1,000 per year to operate the program, by FDOT in all seven FDOT districts and on the Florida Turn- WSDOT has seen annual benefits of approximately $6.5 mil- pike. Statewide, there are more than 100 Road Ranger vehicles lion to $11.1 million. in service patrolling more than 1,000 centerline miles of free- ways. To operate the Road Ranger program, FDOT contracts with private vendors to provide vehicles and drivers and uses Lessons Learned private sponsorship to supplement funding for the program. The formalizing of roles, responsibilities, and goals in the JOPS This case study examines the use of private tow vendors Agreement regarding freeway operations was an important and sponsors to successfully deliver the FDOT Road Ranger
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25 program. Close coordination between public agencies and the and the Turnpike Enterprise operate Road Ranger service private tow vendors that provide the Road Ranger service in patrols, although the level of coverage varies with each dis- each district is required for the service patrols to operate suc- trict. Road Ranger roving patrols are used on heavily con- cessfully. Joint FDOT and private sponsorship funding is gested freeways, high incident locations, and work zones. The required for FDOT to continue to offer the Road Ranger ser- State Traffic Engineering and Operations Office coordinates vice without significant cuts to the miles of freeways covered or the Road Ranger program statewide, but each district has the hours of operations involved. independent supervision and control over its Road Ranger For this case study, Patrick Odom, FDOT's traffic inci- program. Districts contract directly with private companies dent management and Road Ranger program manager, was to provide the operators and vehicles for a specified number interviewed. In his position, Odom coordinates the program of miles that need to be patrolled. To ensure program consis- throughout the state. Part of his responsibilities includes work- tency across the state, each tow vendor provides white vehi- ing closely with the districts to assist them with the implemen- cles affixed with the Road Ranger logo, provides uniforms to tation, evaluation, and funding of their Road Ranger program drivers, and offers the same types of services as all other tow and ensuring that a consistent level of service is provided by the vendors. Road Ranger operators are trained in the same man- program throughout the state. ner and all must have training in first aid and CPR. It is interesting to note that although the Road Ranger pro- Since 2000, the Road Rangers have provided more than gram in its current format has only been in place since the year 2 million assists to motorists and currently patrol more than 2000, FDOT has provided various service patrol functions 1,000 centerline miles. Road Rangers are equipped to assist in since the 1980s. Service patrols were first used by FDOT to lane clearance and traffic control during incidents. They also manage incidents in work zones for major construction provide limited amounts of fuel, tire changing assistance, cell projects. In the 1990s, a service patrol was initiated in what is phone calls for car service, and other types of minor emer- known as Alligator Alley, a desolate stretch of I-75 through the gency repairs to disabled vehicles to get them off the free- Florida Everglades in southern Florida. FDOT has been able to way and reduce the potential for secondary incidents. Road coordinate the different service patrols offered around the state Rangers will move disabled vehicles off the roadway to the and develop a program that is recognized by motorists across nearest safe place and contact the FHP to request a towing Florida (8). service to assist the driver at the driver's expense. During hur- ricane evacuations, the Road Rangers may be called upon to assist in traffic control and incident management as well. Description The FDOT Road Rangers work closely with the Florida The Florida Road Ranger case study focuses on the use of Highway Patrol in providing incident management. Motorists private tow vendors and sponsors to deliver a freeway service can dial *-F-H-P from their cell phones to request assistance. patrol program throughout the state of Florida. Delivery of the When appropriate, FHP will transfer calls from motorists to Road Ranger program includes the participation of FDOT, the FDOT District Traffic Management Center (TMC) and Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), private service patrol providers, TMC operators will then dispatch a Road Ranger unit. In and private sponsors. The Road Ranger program is coordinated some areas of the state, dialing *-F-H-P will link the caller through the FDOT Central Office and operated by the FDOT directly to the FDOT TMC. districts and the Florida Turnpike Enterprise. The Road Ranger program in its current format began in 2000, but at that time Process Development the program was completely funded by the State of Florida. Budget cuts later forced FDOT to look elsewhere for funding or Service patrols have been used in Florida for more than 20 years; consider reducing the hours and miles of service covered by the however, the Road Ranger program in its current format was Road Ranger program. FDOT was able to successfully imple- implemented in 2000. In the late 1980s, service patrols were ment a sponsorship program to supplement funding of the used to assist disabled vehicles in construction zones and Road Ranger program through corporate sponsorship. This were operated by the contractor doing the construction. In case study focuses on how the Road Ranger program was able 1995, FDOT and the FHP worked together to develop a to grow from a local program that was only offered in a few service patrol to assist disabled vehicles on I-75 through the districts into a statewide program with deployments in every Florida Everglades. This desolate stretch of interstate had a district. shortage of FHP officers to patrol it and a service was needed to assist stranded motorists and relieve FHP of that duty. The Alley Service Patrol was implemented in 1995, with FDOT Background of Agency contracting the service out to a private vendor. FDOT pro- FDOT includes a Central Office, seven District Offices, and vided funding and the private vendor was responsible for the Florida Turnpike Enterprise. Each of the seven districts providing trucks and operators.
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26 Although service patrols were operating in several areas of process shown in Figure 3.2 demonstrates the integration that the state in the late 1990s, FDOT lacked a consistent program is necessary between the FDOT District TMC, the FHP, and the statewide. The service patrols that had been deployed through private tow vendor that provides the Road Ranger service, to the 1990s had received excellent feedback and their benefits effectively respond to incidents. Incidents are typically identi- were well understood by many at FDOT. To expand the ser- fied by an FHP officer, the TMC, the Road Ranger operator vice patrols, FDOT began formally funding the Road Ranger during roving service, or by a stranded or observant motorist. program in 1999 and the name Road Ranger was selected in Depending on the incident, the Road Ranger unit may 2000 through a statewide contest. The Road Ranger program respond independently to motorists who call for help, such as was coordinated by the FDOT Central Office, but each FDOT a stranded motorist who needs fuel, or they may respond in district was responsible for the Road Ranger program in their coordination with FHP to assist with traffic control during a respective jurisdictions. Through a competitive bid process, major incident that closes part or all of a freeway. The Road contracts were established with private companies in each dis- Ranger operators complete an incident report for every inci- trict to provide drivers, training, and vehicles for the Road dent they respond to and the FDOT District Office compiles Ranger service. A majority of the companies that were awarded the incident reports to monitor performance of the Road these contracts are towing companies, with the exception of Ranger program. District 5 in Central Florida. District 5 contracts with LYNX, In the process diagram, some of the initial steps that need the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority, which to occur to implement a Road Ranger program are also docu- also coordinates public transportation in three counties in mented. Competitive proposals are solicited for private com- Central Florida. panies to contract with FDOT districts to provide the Road Despite proven benefits and an extremely positive response Ranger service. These contracts are typically paid on an hourly from the public, the Road Ranger budget was reduced in 2008 basis and require the tow vendor to provide the Road Ranger because of the economic downturn. In order to prevent a vehicles, operators, and training of the operators. Sponsorship reduction in service of the Road Ranger program, FDOT gave will continue to be sought to supplement the budget for the permission to the private tow vendors to seek sponsorship to Road Ranger program. supplement funding of the Road Ranger program. Sponsor- Several key integration points were identified in the Road ship funding allowed tow vendors to maintain or expand the Ranger incident response process, including the following: hours of operation and miles of freeway serviced. In exchange for sponsorship, the Road Ranger vehicles are wrapped with · Integration between FDOT TMC dispatch and private tow logos from the sponsor, although there are still some elements vendors responsible for providing Road Ranger service; of consistency for the Road Ranger vehicles. All will remain · Integration between FDOT Headquarters and private tow primarily white and will prominently display the Road Ranger vendors to document services provided and develop the logo. Sponsors must be considered family friendly by FDOT. performance monitoring reports; Oversight of the sponsorship program is provided jointly by · Integration between FDOT TMC and FHP for identifying the FDOT Central Office and the districts. and responding to incidents; In addition to the regular Road Ranger service patrols, · Integration between FDOT Headquarters and private spon- FDOT requires that contractors provide a service patrol sors for funding of the Road Ranger service; and within work zones on some large construction projects. These · Integration still needed between FHP and Road Ranger oper- service patrols are usually operated by the contractor, and the ators to allow FHP offices to talk directly to Road Rangers in cost for the program is covered in the contractor's bid for the field. the project. Most contractors understand that the service patrols provide an added element of safety within the work The incident report that Road Ranger operators complete zones for both workers and motorists. There have been for each incident provides a detailed log of what services were some cases where FDOT did not require contractors to pro- provided, time to clear incident, and any other relevant infor- vide service patrols, but the contractor implemented a pro- mation about the incident. FDOT keeps numerous perfor- gram on their own because of the benefits they believe the mance measures to track the benefits of the Road Ranger patrols provide. program, such as the miles of freeway patrolled with roving service, number of patrols operating, and the number of assists provided to motorists. In addition, comment cards are pro- Detailed Process and Integration Points vided by the Road Ranger operators to every motorist that Figure 3.2 documents an example of the process used by the receives assistance. The cards allow motorists to rate the ser- Road Ranger program for incident response. The specific vice they received and can then be mailed back to FDOT.
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27 Figure 3.2. Detailed business process diagram of FDOT Road Rangers incident response. Types of Agencies Involved incidents. Private tow vendors contract with FDOT to provide the equipment and staff necessary to deliver the Road Ranger Three primary agencies work together to deliver the Road program in each district. In addition, private sponsorship sup- Ranger program: FDOT (Central Office and districts), FHP, plements the funding provided by the state, thereby allowing and private tow vendors. FDOT provides the oversight for the FDOT to enhance the Road Ranger program. program through the Central Office and districts. Day-to-day monitoring of the freeways and dispatch of the Road Rangers are provided by the FDOT TMC. In the Central Office, the traf- Types of Nonrecurring Congestion Addressed fic incident management manager and Road Ranger program The Road Ranger program primarily addresses nonrecurring manager are responsible for coordinating with each district congestion caused by traffic incidents, through assistance to to provide a consistent level of service for the Road Ranger stranded motorists and provision of traffic incident manage- program and to compile performance information. FHP iden- ment for major incidents. Stranded motorists present a tifies incidents through their patrol officers, as well as through potential hazard to other motorists and often contribute to dispatchers answering calls from motorists. FHP also coordi- congestion when other vehicles slow down as they pass the nates directly with Road Ranger operators in the field during stranded vehicle. By assisting stranded motorists with such
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28 services as tire changes, fuel, or short tows to remove them The analysis was conducted under the direction of the Center from the freeway, the Road Rangers are removing this poten- for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South tial hazard and avoiding a possible secondary incident. Florida. The overall benefit-cost ratio of the Road Ranger pro- During larger incidents when emergency responders are gram was measured at 25.8:1. Benefits of the program included called to the scene, the Road Rangers can provide traffic man- a savings of 1,138,869 vehicle hours of delay and 1,717,064 gal- agement through assisting with placing cones and flares, setting lons of fuel. At the time, the program cost approximately up detour routes, or providing warning, with truck-mounted $1.1 million statewide and the benefits were estimated at dynamic message signs (DMSs), to motorists near the back of $29.2 million. The results of this evaluation clearly show that queues caused by incidents. the Road Ranger program provides a major benefit and cost Road Rangers have also been used to address nonrecurring savings to travelers in Florida (9). congestion caused by hurricane evacuations. Road Rangers FDOT has also emphasized that, compared with the con- can assist in traffic control and assist motorists who may be struction of new roadways, the Road Ranger program provides stranded during an evacuation. Assistance during evacuations exceptional value. For example, FDOT has stated that the cost is extremely important because motorists stranded on the side for construction of two new lanes of road for 2 mi is approxi- of the road may block some or all of a travel lane and may mately $45 million and will provide additional capacity only in cause secondary incidents. Because capacity is critical during one localized area. That same funding for the Road Ranger an evacuation, it is extremely important that assistance is pro- program will benefit the entire interstate highway system in vided to stranded motorists during evacuations to move them Florida. off the evacuation routes as quickly as possible. FDOT's unique approach to using private tow vendors and private sponsors has been beneficial. Through the private tow Performance Measures vendors, FDOT is able to reduce some of its administrative burden of managing the program and can seek competitive FDOT collects both output- and outcome-based performance bids to provide the service after each contract expires. The pri- measures for the Road Ranger program. Output-based per- vate sponsorship has provided a revenue source to replace formance measures include the number of assists provided to funding cuts to the Road Ranger program by the Florida legis- motorists and the number of miles of freeways covered by lature. Without sponsorship, FDOT would have had to cut Road Ranger patrols. Outcome-based performance measures back on the Road Ranger service severely in the last two years include the incident duration, travel time reliability, and cus- and future operation of the system might have been in jeo- tomer satisfaction. Of the outcome-based performance mea- pardy. The private sponsorship has been a true win-win pro- sures, the Road Ranger program only has a direct impact on gram. It has allowed FDOT to continue to offer an important the customer satisfaction measure. Motorists who receive assistance from a Road Ranger unit are given a comment card component of its incident management program while allow- to complete and mail back to FDOT to rate their satisfaction ing private sponsors an opportunity to build goodwill with with the Road Ranger service. Responses have been extremely the community through provision of the very popular Road positive, with more than 90% of responses rating the Road Ranger program. Rangers as "very useful." In addition to the comment cards, FDOT routinely receives letters and e-mail thanking them for Lessons Learned the Road Ranger service. The performance measures for incident duration and Despite FDOT's efforts to clearly document the benefit-cost travel time reliability are not a direct measurement of the Road ratio of the Road Ranger program and the positive response Ranger program; however, the Road Rangers have a significant from the public, FDOT saw funding for the Road Ranger pro- impact on both of these measures. Through close cooperation gram reduced as the state looked for ways to reduce expendi- between the FDOT Road Ranger program, FDOT TMCs, FHP, tures to deal with the national economic downturn. There is and local fire and EMS, these agencies can improve incident little doubt that the program has been successful, but FDOT is detection, response, and clearance times. An overall decrease concerned that, given the continued economic downturn, the in incident clearance time will reduce nonrecurring conges- Road Ranger program could endure a funding cut once again. tion, reduce the chances of secondary incidents, and improve One lesson that FDOT has learned is the importance of overall travel time reliability. emphasizing that the Road Ranger program is not a cour- tesy patrol program. These types of programs are easy to cut because the perception is that they only benefit a few motorists. Benefits They are important services to provide but easy to reduce or In November 2005, FDOT sponsored a benefit-cost analysis to eliminate when budgets are tight. To emphasize the incident evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the Road Ranger program. management function of the Road Ranger program, FDOT