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APPENDIX B Ferry Operators' Survey Results Methodology Following the approval of the survey instrument, the survey was pretested with several panel members and was refined before being fielded. Telephone interviews were conducted from May through July 2009. The telephone interviews covered the same topics as the literature review. The survey sample was designed to include representatives of the full range of ferry operators, from very small to those that carry more than a million passengers, from seasonal to year-round, and from private ownership and operation to federal, state/provincial, and local public operation. The sample also selected operators from various geographic regions. The survey was designed to allow for multiple respondents from the same operator to answer questions, which occurred dur- ing interviews with larger operators. A $100 incentive was offered to encourage participation in order to complete the desired number of interviews. Results Forty-three interviews were completed. The survey respondents answered anonymously dur- ing the reporting process. Additional characteristics of the respondents include: · Of the 15 publicly owned ferries surveyed, one is a federal agency, seven are state or provin- cial governments, and seven are local operators. · Twenty are privately owned and operated, while seven are publicly owned but operated by private companies under contract. · Fourteen ferries are seasonal, while 16 operate year-round. · The number of passengers carried annually ranged from less than 500 to 2 million. · Twenty-five respondents operated one to two lines, 10 had three to six lines, and six had seven or more lines. Respondents were asked to rate the importance of the survey topics on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is not at all important and 10 is extremely important. Average responses for major areas are presented in Figure B-1. Overall, respondents assigned the highest importance to ferry operation and maintenance (O&M) issues that directly affect everyday functioning, such as engine, hull, and terminal main- tenance. Regulatory compliance, funding issues, labor relations, and ferry planning all received only slightly lower importance ratings averaging 8.5 to 8.8, indicating that these functions, too, are considered quite important by ferry operators. Somewhat lower-average importance ratings were assigned to disaster response/passenger security (7.4) and to marketing (6.9) and emission/ greenhouse gas issues (6.4). 142
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Appendix B 143 10 9.4 8.5 8.7 8.8 8.6 9 8 7.4 6.9 7 6.4 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 g g s e ity s t es en ue ue in tin nc ur rc nn em ke s ia s ec u Is Is pl a So ar ag rS Pl &M om as M an g ge G C in O M e en nd y us or ce ss Fu ho at or Pa ul g en kf in eg e/ or re ag ns R /W /G an po ns on M es io si rR at is Em el te rR as bo is D La Figure B-1. Importance ratings of ferry management and operations issues. Each of these broad issues is discussed in greater detail in the following sections, with the goal of identifying specific tools or activities that individual operators have found to be helpful in successfully meeting challenges. Planning The questions related to ferry planning were geared toward gaining a better understanding from operators how they treated planning, both in the short and long term. Survey respondents were asked to rate the importance of various planning-related issues, as well as list any planning- related activities that were to be performed in the near term. General themes include: · Respondents who rated the importance of planning highly explained their rating by stating, among other reasons, that planning is a critical element of ferry management, that it is essen- tial to coordinate repairs and USGS inspections, and cited their own organization's failure to plan in the past leading to the need for service cutbacks within the past several years. · Those who assigned lower importance to planning explained that they were long-established operations meeting the needs of a specific market (for example, National Park visitors, island residents) so that little planning was required. · Across all respondents, individual planning tools received lower-average importance ratings than did planning overall. · Among individual planning tools, use of models to plan routes or terminals received the low- est rating, although several operators said that they informally use past and current passenger and traffic data to plan future operations. · Publicly owned ferries and those operated by private contractor assigned higher important ratings to several planning tools, including political considerations, public input and feedback, and the need to plan for regulatory requirements. · While private owner/operators assigned significantly greater importance to planning overall than did either public agencies or contract operators of publicly owned ferries, they assigned lower levels of importance to specific planning tools that involve external feedback or input.
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144 Guidelines for Ferry Transportation Services Working toward smoother intermodal interface 7.0 New cost recovery mechanisms 6.2 New fare structure 7.3 New or expanded terminals 8.2 Replacing vessels 6.2 Increasing size of vessels 6.1 Increasing number of vessels 6.9 Expanding or reducing staffing levels 7.8 Less frequent service 7.5 More frequent service 6.7 Changing seasonal services 7.8 Eliminating routes 5.6 Adding new routes 6.2 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Figure B-2. Success of planning efforts toward selected goals (0 to 10 scale). Respondents were also asked to rate how successful they felt their planning had been with regard to specific activities. Results are summarized in Figure B-2. Planning for new or expanded terminals, changing staffing levels, and adjusting seasonal serv- ices were seen as the most successful planning activities, while efforts to eliminate routes were considered least successful (note that planning efforts to reduce the frequency of service were seen as considerably less problematic). The most commonly mentioned major planning challenge for the near future was the economy and the effect of the recession on ferry usage as well as on public sector budgets. Respondents mentioned dealing with specific challenges such as cost control, personnel man- agement, fleet upgrades, tighter regulations, and maintenance issues in the context of the more restrictive operating environment. One large operator mentioned a long-term chal- lenge of planning expanded parking and ferry service despite local opposition; another described a planned consolidation of three ferries operated by individual cities into a single public entity.
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Appendix B 145 Based on the planning experiences and challenges faced by survey respondents, best practices with regard to planning appear to include the following: · Use public input to assess customer needs and to help advance operational improvements. · Take advantage of the knowledge and experience of ferry staff. · Observe and learn from the experience of other ferry operators. · Plan service to accommodate the needs of passengers. · Recruit informed stakeholders as part of an Advisory Board. · Conduct periodic audits of internal procedures. · Focus on planning for and managing vehicle traffic. Managing Funding Sources Managing funding sources is a critical element for service management for operators. Whether it is public operators relying on public funds to private operators relying on profits from rider- ship, maintaining a constant funding source is of the utmost importance. This section focuses on the aspects of funding management that operators view as important to their operation. Both public and private operators view funding management as important. The survey devel- oped specific questions aimed at the different interests each sector faces. These issues are pre- Tab. 1, 2 sented in Tables B-1 and B-2. Private owner/operators were most concerned with increasing their revenues (9.5 average rating) and managing operating expenses, with other funding issues taking on less importance. Specifically, making capital investments to reduce operating expenses (average rating of 7.2) and refinancing or restructuring existing debt (6.1) were deemed less critical to the success of operations. For operators of publicly owned facilities, managing existing operating funding sources was significantly more important than either investigating new operating funding sources or man- aging existing capital funding sources. Identifying new capital funding sources was relatively more important, however, with respondents recognizing that these new capital sources would be crucial to future success. Several commented on both the difficulty of securing capital to per- form the required upgrades to their aging vessels and terminals and on the opportunities offered Table B-1. Importance of funding issues to operators of privately owned ferries. Making Ability to capital manage investments finances and Managing that reduce Refinancing/ Working to increase operating operating restructuring increase revenues expenses expenses existing debt revenues 9.5 9.1 7.2 6.1 9.5 Table B-2. Importance of funding issues to operators of publicly owned ferries. Identifying Identifying How Managing and and important will existing investigating Managing investigating these new operating new operating existing new capital capital funding funding funding capital funding funding sources be in sources sources sources sources the future 9.1 6.4 8.0 8.8 9.2
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146 Guidelines for Ferry Transportation Services Table B-3. Percentage of respondents using alternate pricing strategies. HOV lane Congestion Different Different Different pricing at pricing pricing for pricing for pricing for terminals different times different different of day, days of categories of payment week, or customers methods seasons 6.5% 9.7% 45.2% 71.0% 22.6% by economic stimulus funds. Operators specifically mentioned the Ferry Boat Discretionary Fund and the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, as well as the Economic Recovery Act. Most operators, both public and private, must look to multiple funding sources. The ques- tions in Table B-3 highlight some of the funding strategies that have begun to be implemented with other transit modes. One severe funding challenge faced by all the ferries was the sharp run-up in fuel prices in 2008. When asked how they had coped with the fuel price increase, almost half (45%) of public ferries reported having instituted a fuel surcharge, compared to about 20% of private and con- tract operators. While several operators said the surcharge had allowed them to cope with the cost increases, at least one reported that the surcharge had cut their market share. Among those that did not increase fuel-specific surcharges, several said they raised fares, while others said the increased cost was simply reflected in a larger operating loss. Among both groups, a significant number said they were successful at instituting fuel-saving operational changes, including: · Turning off engines in lieu of idling. · Reducing speed or optimizing engine revolutions per minute. · Limiting the amount of excess fuel on board to reduce weight. · Making fewer trips. · Installing a fuel monitoring system to track consumption. · Assigning responsibility for fuel management to individual captains. Based on the funding experiences and challenges faced by survey respondents, best practices with regard to managing funding resources appear to include the following: · Use stimulus money. · Dedicate staff resources to pursuing grants and other sources of capital funds. · Manage fuel costs through contracts, competitive bidding, and operational adjustments, including fuel monitoring systems and assign responsibility for fuel management to captains; use fuel surcharges cautiously. · Consider and apply alternate pricing, particularly seasonal pricing and systems that offer dis- counts to heavy users through a paperless ticketing system. Marketing Engaging in marketing practices can assist operators in raising their profile among the many transportation options people can choose from. This section looks to highlight what types of marketing activities and strategies operators use, as discussed in Table B-4. Generally, there were two perceptions of the importance of marketing. One group included those who do not see marketing as important. Most of these were publicly owned (either publicly
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Appendix B 147 Table B-4. Importance of marketing to ferry success. Using marketing to Using improve image marketing or Using as a viable market research marketing to transit to improve address other Marketing alternative service issues All Public 5.0 3.3 4.3 4.1 All Private 7.9 6.0 5.5 4.5 Privately 8.6 6.5 6.1 4.7 Owned Contract 5.7 4.3 3.8 3.7 Operator All 6.9 5.1 5.1 4.3 or privately operated) operations, often quite small, that do not think they need to market to retain what they often see as a captive audience. The majority of respondents, however, assigned relatively higher importance ratings to marketing. Private owner-operators rated marketing higher than did either publicly operated ferries or pri- vate contractors who operate publicly owned ferries. Even with small sample sizes for each group, the difference between the perceived importance of marketing among public operators (5.0) and private owner-operators (8.6) is significant. Public ferries had lower importance ratings for all specific aspects of marketing, whether using marketing to improve their image as a viable transit alternative, using marketing or market research to improve service, or using marketing to address other issues. When asked about their biggest marketing challenge in the next several years, responses tended to fall into three categories: · Difficulties of coping with the economy, which had led to decreased ridership and reduced marketing budgets, so that the need for marketing is greatest just when the resources to support it are declining. · Need to continue to promote the availability and benefits of their ferry. · Ability to recognize the importance of electronic media and marketing. Despite the relatively low importance assigned to marketing, a few operators appear to be using marketing and market research effectively to improve their business. Candidates for best practices include: · Creating and building a brand or image to help build awareness and differentiate one ferry line from others. · Using electronic media (including timely, updated Web sites and social media) to stay in touch with customers and market. · Fielding surveys to gather customer feedback and, as needed, make operational adjustments. Operations and Maintenance O&M was the only category of issues to receive an average importance rating higher than 9. As shown in Table B-5, O&M issues were rated highly by every category of ferry operation, with every group assigning an average of importance of at least 9.3. For all public and private operators, the average importance of maintenance-related issues to the success of operations was consistently high, as shown below. Engine, transmission, and generator maintenance received the highest average rating (9.4). However, regular haul-outs/inspections required by USGS (8.7), hull maintenance (8.4), cabin
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148 Guidelines for Ferry Transportation Services Table B-5. Importance of operational and maintenance issues. Importance ratings for operations and maintenance issues All Public 9.3 All Private 9.4 Privately Owned 9.4 Contract Operator 9.7 All 9.4 cleaning (8.3), terminal maintenance (7.4), and even vessel restroom maintenance (6.8) all rated higher than any other non-maintenance operational issues such as automated reservations or tick- eting, managing wait times, or managing entry/exit queuing and metering, as shown in Table B-6. When asked about their most serious maintenance challenge, respondents offered a variety of concerns but most often mentioned rising costs, the difficulty of maintaining aging vessels and engines, and the need to comply with a variety of regulations. Often those concerns overlap, such as when operators cite the high cost of replacing old engines to comply with more stringent envi- ronmental regulations. When looking at their greatest operational challenge more broadly, ferry managers again men- tioned cost (10 respondents) and regulations (cited by seven respondents). However, three also mentioned operating in severe weather as a challenge, and two noted problems associated with operating in shallow water (for example, rudder, propeller damage) as their biggest challenge. Work force issues were mentioned as a major issue by five operators. With the very high importance assigned to operations and maintenance, ferry managers are using whatever tools they feel are most effective in overcoming significant operational challenges. Potential best practices include: · Use computerized maintenance records to track vessel usage and identify needed scheduled maintenance. · Use automated scheduling and ticketing. · Use online reservations to reduce wait times. · Provide online information on ferry status. · Pro-actively conduct maintenance to anticipate USGS inspections. · Conduct preventive maintenance off-season. · Use centralized maintenance base for economies of scale. · Maintain good relationship with USGS to support flexible solutions to maintenance emergencies. · Structure fares to encourage foot traffic rather than vehicles. Table B-6. Importance of non-maintenance issues. Automated Automated Managing Managing Encouraging Increasing Managing ferry ticketing/ wait times wait times motorists to passenger- entry/exit scheduling reservations for for other switch to only ferry queuing and vehicles passengers other modes service metering All Public 2.3 4.2 5.1 5.4 2.5 2.3 4.1 All Private 1.9 5.2 2.3 3.8 2.1 4.8 3.6 Privately 1.6 5.8 2.5 4.2 1.6 4.8 3.8 Owned Contract 2.7 3.3 1.8 2.7 3.6 4.7 2.8 Operator All 2.0 4.9 3.2 4.3 2.2 3.9 3.8
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Appendix B 149 · Clean cabins and restrooms after every trip. · Assign clear responsibility for maintenance tasks, with captains ultimately responsible for onboard maintenance. Regulatory Issues Regulatory issues were considered important across the board but were rated especially impor- tant by privately owned and operated ferries. Ferries must comply with a range of regulations, whose relative importance is summarized in Table B-7. USGS and safety issues received the highest average importance ratings, followed by homeland security issues, emissions requirements, ADA compliance, and EPA discharge regulations. Note that several classes of regulatory concerns were deemed less important by private owner-operators than by publicly owned and operated ferries, including emission requirements (6.8 versus 7.4), use of automatic ID systems (3.5 versus 5.4), EPA regulations (5.8 versus 7.4), ADA compliance (5.9 versus 7.1), and homeland security issues (7.0 versus 8.3). Respondents were also asked specifically which of the above regulatory issues has had the greatest impact on their operations. Answers are summarized in Table B-8. Operators emphasize the multiple regulations they are required to comply with, that all the regulations are equally important (and, in many ways, equally burdensome), and that failure to comply leads to the operation being shut down. When asked about the importance of regulatory issues over the next several years, 10 respon- dents specifically mentioned Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) and installing the required card readers as a potential challenge. Both engine emissions and vessel discharge requirements were also mentioned as very important future concerns. The ferries most successful in dealing with regulatory concerns appear to be those that say they have anticipated requirements and that work closely with regulators such as the USGS to iden- tify potential compliance issues. Several respondents described how they provided input during public comment periods on proposed new regulations and were able to make them "come into play in a more reasonable fashion than what they were proposed." Table B-7. Importance of regulatory issues. Regulatory ADA Coast Use of EPA Emissions Safety Homeland compliance compliance Guard automatic vessel requirements issues security issues issues ID general issues systems permit (VGP) All 8.3 7.1 9.0 5.4 7.4 7.4 9.0 8.3 Public All 8.8 5.9 8.7 3.7 5.6 6.6 8.5 7.4 Private Privately 9.3 5.9 8.8 3.5 5.8 6.8 8.7 7.0 Owned Contract 7.3 5.7 8.6 4.1 5.2 6.1 7.9 8.4 Operator All 8.8 6.3 8.8 4.1 6.1 6.9 8.6 7.7 Table B-8. Regulatory issue importance ranking. ADA 4.7% Coast Guard 25.6% HL Security 18.6% Safety issues 25.6% All equal 25.6%
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150 Guidelines for Ferry Transportation Services As indicated in the discussions above, strict compliance with applicable regulations is a min- imal requirement for continued operation. However, it appears that there are some steps ferry operators can take to best anticipate regulations and interact with regulators. Some of these potential best practices include the following: · Establish and maintain good relations with the USGS, especially local personnel. · Provide well-documented input regarding local effects of proposed new regulations during public comment periods. · Plan and budget for likely regulatory changes, such as stricter emission requirements, even when the specific regulations have not been finalized. Workforce Management Issues Labor relations and workforce management issues received an overall rating of 8.6 when respondents were asked how important these issues had been to the success of ferry operations over the past 2 years--roughly the same as planning, managing funding sources, and regulatory compliance. Ratings for workforce management are presented in Table B-9. Private operators of publicly owned ferries appear to be somewhat less concerned than other groups about labor relations and workforce management issues overall, but they assigned greater importance to the availability of licensed, experienced staff, issues associated with drug testing, and providing benefits (recall that there are only seven of these contract operators, so that individual responses can more significantly affect the group average). When asked about the most significant workforce management issues for the next several years, most responses focused on the need to replace an aging workforce as existing staff retire, the cost of healthcare and other benefits, and generally being able to find good people at a manageable cost. The extent to which operators have flexibility in implementing new workforce manage- ment practices depends in part on whether and how much of the work force is unionized. Overall, however, the following appear to be consistent with efficient operation and good employee morale: · Because customer interaction is an important function for almost all positions on the ferry, select and recruit personnel accordingly. · Cooperate with other firms to have drug testing performed to reduce cost. · Train and promote from within the company to ensure high-quality staff and employee retention. · Take advantage of cyclical downturns in other industries to improve the ability of ferry operators to hire qualified staff even at relatively lower compensation levels. Table B-9. Importance of workforce management issues. Labor Availability Cost/ Adapting to Providing Interacting relations of licensed efficiency of use of benefits with unions and (experienced) drug testing TWIC cards (health care, and union workforce captains and retirement negotiations management deckhands plans, etc.) All Public 8.3 7.7 6.1 5.4 8.3 5.7 All Private 8.8 8.4 7.1 5.2 7.6 2.4 Privately 9.3 8.1 6.8 5.3 7.4 2.5 Owned Contract 7.3 9.8 8.2 4.8 8.4 2.0 Operator All 8.6 8.2 6.8 5.2 7.8 3.5
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Appendix B 151 Disaster Response and Passenger Security Issues The perceived importance of disaster response and passenger security issues to the success of operations seems to depend on whether respondents interpret it to mean homeland securityrelated issues or operational issues that affect the safety of passengers. As shown in Table B-10, disaster response and passenger security issues overall received an importance rat- ing of 7.4, somewhat lower than several other issues investigated in this study. Publicly operated ferries assigned a higher level of importance to this issue overall than did private operators, particularly operators of privately owned facilities. Several specific issues related to disaster response and security were also perceived as moderately important, including ferry disaster response and support (7.5), development of a security plan (6.8), protection and safety from terrorist attacks (5.8), and passenger screen- ing (5.5). Passenger safety and other operational safety issues received importance ratings of more than 9.0 for all categories of operators, suggesting that respondents see the traditional empha- sis on safety as more consistent with their success than the need to comply with security- related regulations imposed by DHS and the USGS. The different perceptions regarding these two distinct types of passenger security are reflected in the comments offered for each set of issues. As with other issues, a number of operators tie future security and safety challenges to fund- ing and the economic downturn, since there may be a tendency to want to save money on train- ing, maintenance, and other aspects of operations that directly affect safety and security. Also cited were concerns regarding the need to adapt to new and changing regulations (including installing TWIC card readers), the possibility of renewed terrorist threats that would raise secu- rity alert levels and require more rigorous passenger screening, and the need to hire skilled cap- tains and crews capable of meeting high safety standards. Strategies used by ferry operators to address safety and security issues that may be candidates for best practices include the following: · Use a PVA plan or develop own safety plan, working with USGS and DHS, as well as other law enforcement agencies. · Coordinate safety and security plans with other ferry operators in the region. · Implement standard procedures in accordance with plan and ensure they are followed. · Implement regular, rigorous training on all aspects of disaster response. · Conduct anonymous (mystery shopper) review of safety and security procedures. Table B-10. Importance of disaster response and passenger security issues. Disaster Development Passenger Ferry Passenger Ferry Ferry response of security screening protection safety operational disaster and plan/ and and safety Safety response passenger alternate response from terror and security security plan screening attacks support issues (ASP) All Public 8.2 6.4 5.0 6.1 9.2 9.1 8.3 All Private 7.0 7.0 5.8 5.7 9.2 9.2 7.1 Privately 6.9 6.8 5.9 5.3 9.1 9.1 7.4 Owned Contract 7.6 7.7 5.4 6.7 9.4 9.7 6.3 Operator All 7.4 6.8 5.5 5.8 9.2 9.2 7.5
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152 Guidelines for Ferry Transportation Services Table B-11. Importance of emission and greenhouse gas issues. Emission Emission New Use of Retrofitting Use of New engine Planning and monitoring programs/ alternative vessel to tools, technologies new routes greenhouse programs initiatives fuels reduce models to to reduce to conform gas issues to reduce emissions understand emissions to air emissions total fuel quality cycle planning energy, goals emissions impacts All 6.3 3.3 5.4 3.3 4.7 2.2 5.5 1.5 Public All 6.4 2.9 4.7 2.8 4.4 3.4 5.2 2.3 Private Privately 6.4 3.0 5.2 2.8 5.2 3.9 5.9 2.2 Owned Contract 6.6 2.7 3.4 3.2 2.0 2.0 3.2 2.5 Operator All 6.4 3.0 4.9 3.0 4.5 3.1 5.3 2.1 Emissions and Greenhouse Gas Issues Emissions and greenhouse gas issues are viewed overall as less important than other regulatory issues, workforce management issues, and marketing, with the lowest mean importance rating across all respondents of any category of issues, as shown in Table B-11. The importance rating for emissions issues is consistent across public and private operators with a difference of just 0.3 point between the highest and lowest rating. For individual issues, the level of importance shows more variation across different types of operators. The importance of new programs to reduce emissions, for example, ranges from 3.4 for contract operators to 5.4 for public ferries, while the rating for new engine technologies averages 5.9 for private owner- operators but only 3.2 for contract operators. Only a handful of operators said they had received or were working towards any specific green certification. Three respondents said they had received Travel Green Wisconsin certification, while two mentioned a PVA Best Practices program, and one reported that they had worked with EPA to develop a Green Port strategy and were now seeking funding to implement the strategy. When asked what they see as the most significant emission- and greenhouse gas-related chal- lenge over the next 2 years, almost all respondents focused on the increasingly stringent EPA reg- ulations, with at least one noting the uncertainty that surrounds current planning efforts. "We are heading into period where everything might have to be scrapped for 2014 regulations . . . it is holding everybody back." Since most of the actions taken to address emissions and greenhouse gas issues involve com- plying with new and sometimes unforeseen regulations, best practices tend to be similar to those for regulatory issues. Candidates for best practices include the following: · Use engine manufacturers for support in complying with engine emissions guidelines. · Select cleanest fuel consistent with engine operating requirements. · Work with appropriate agencies to seek recognition for "green" practices. · Work together with ports and other authorities to establish and use emission monitoring program. · Seek out stimulus funding, grants, or other sources to help pay for engine retrofits or replacements.