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STRATEGIC APPROACHES TO COORDINATION Chapter 5 Coordination has been approached in many ways in many communities. This chapter discusses some of the most successful ways to approach coordinated transportation services. HIGH-IMPACT COORDINATION STRATEGIES FOR TRANSPORTATION OPERATORS Attempts to coordinate transportation services are more likely to Attempts to coordinate succeed when specific coordination objectives are identified and transportation services appropriate strategies are employed. Certain strategies are often are more likely to associated with transportation operations that generate large economic benefits from coordinated operations. These strategies include succeed when specific coordination objectives Tapping currently unused sources of funding, including using are identified and new funds to expand services and to provide and upgrade appropriate strategies existing services; are employed. Decreasing the direct costs of providing transportation; Increasing the productivity and utilization of vehicles on the road; Achieving the benefits (and avoiding the disbenefits) of economies of scale; Chapter 5 Strategic Approaches to Coordination 95
Capturing the opportunities available from multiple providers and multiple modes of travel; and Instituting transportation services in areas lacking such services. These strategies appear to be much more effective in generating economic benefits than strategies addressing the following issues: Who is the lead agency (e.g., a public transit authority, a human service agency, a nonoperating brokerage, or a planning agency); Which services are emphasized (e.g., ADA paratransit services, welfare-to-work [WtW] trips, agency trips, general public trips, Medicaid trips, or others); and What particular coordination technique is used (coordination, consolidation, or brokerage, for example). Strategies to Adopt Case studies have been used to generate information about high-impact transportation coordination strategies (Burkhardt et al., 2003). Strategies that can generate large economic benefits for public transit operators and human service agencies involved in coordinated transportation systems (and their communities, too) are summarized below. The transit authority contracts to provide trips to Medicaid or other human service agency clients. In many communities, Medicaid agencies have not made full use of fixed-route transit services, opting for more costly paratransit services instead. As shown in numerous cases, moving only a small proportion of Medicaid clients to fixed-route transit service saves the Medicaid agency very large sums of money, substantially increases revenues of the transit authority at no additional operating cost, and provides mobility benefits for Medicaid clients. Public transit providers can also coordinate with local school districts to transport students for regular classes or for special purposes or special events. WtW programs will also benefit from coordination with transit providers. These can be considered to be key business expansion strategies. 96 Techniques for Improving Current Coordination Efforts SECTION III
Human service providers provide ADA paratransit services under contracts to transit authorities. In a number of communities, human service agencies have been providing paratransit services for a longer period of time than have transit agencies. Typically operating as private nonprofit organizations, the human service agencies often have cost structures that are less expensive than those of the transit agencies and can thus create significant savings for the transit agencies in providing the ADA-mandated services. (Using volunteers for drivers or other staff positions is one important way that human service agencies can generate large cost reductions.) For transit operators, contracting with human service transportation providers can be considered to be a key cost reduction strategy. Transit authorities and/or human service providers offer Paratransit trips are incentives to paratransit riders to use fixed-route transit often substantially services. Paratransit trips are often substantially more expensive than fixed-route trips. By offering incentives, including travel more expensive than training, to frequent paratransit users, some of those paratransit fixed-route trips. riders will switch their regular travel mode to the fixed-route service. This strategy has real cost reduction benefits for agencies that operate paratransit programs, fixed-route transit operators, human service agencies who sponsor trips for particular clients, and the riders themselves. Human service agencies coordinate or consolidate their separate transportation services and functions to create a general public transportation system. Sometimes referred to as the "classic" coordination example, human service agencies band together to form a "critical mass" of service that can qualify for general public funding and offer real travel options throughout the entire community. This is a key productivity enhancement strategy that can be referred to as a synthesis or synergy strategy. It is often combined with cost reduction, service enhancement, and mobility enhancement strategies. Transportation providers institute a communitywide coordinated dispatching operation so that all vehicles in use can accommodate all types of passengers at all times. Often entitled "ridesharing," this technique ensures the most cost- effective application of driver and vehicle resources. Judiciously applied, it can eliminate the typical precoordination situation of Chapter 5 Strategic Approaches to Coordination 97
overlapping and inefficient routes and schedules. In particular, the benefits of providing trips for ADA paratransit clients at the same time and on the same vehicle as other travelers creates much lower per trip costs, thus generating real savings for public transit operators. This is a key productivity enhancement strategy. Travel services are expanded to more residents of the Some of the largest community through a variety of low-cost strategies. Some of the largest dollar savings evidenced in the case studies of dollar savings coordinated systems are those generated by the effective use of evidenced in the case volunteers. Volunteers are most cost effectively used when studies of coordinated specific trips have special requirements, such as the need for systems are those hands-on or escorted services; when providing the trip would tie generated by the up a vehicle and a driver for a relatively long time; or in other circumstances where ridesharing would be difficult to effective use of implement. This is a key service expansion strategy that volunteers. strongly relates to some cost reduction strategies. Key coordination strategies are shown in Table 7. Many communities will apply multiple coordination strategies. Strategies to Avoid Just as there are transportation coordination strategies to embrace, there are also significant transportation service strategies to avoid. These are also shown in Table 7 and summarized below. Most characterize situations of little or no coordination; most of them are almost begging to be coordinated. Vehicles and drivers used to serve only one client or trip type: agencies provide trips for only their own clients; agencies provide trips only to certain destinations (e.g., medical facilities) and not to other needed destinations. Multiple dispatch facilities and other administrative operations: each agency uses dispatch personnel dedicated to only the needs of that particular agency; multiple agencies in the same community invest in independently operated geographic information systems (GISs) and automatic vehicle locator (AVL) systems. 98 Techniques for Improving Current Coordination Efforts SECTION III
Table 7: STRATEGIC APPROACHES TO COORDINATION General category Specific strategy Examples Strategies to adopt Business expansion Transit authority contracts to provide Medicaid or other human service agency trips Cost reduction Transit authority contracts with human service agencies to provide ADA paratransit services Synthesis/synergy Human service agencies coordinate/consolidate to create general public transportation system Productivity enhancement Transportation provides coordinated dispatching and promotes ridesharing among cooperating agencies Cost reduction Use of volunteers Shift of paratransit riders to fixed-route services Strategies to avoid Limited focus Only one type of passenger/client on the vehicles Administrative duplication Underutilized vehicles, dispatch/administrative/ ITS or GIS facilities Productivity problems Significant unused vehicle capacity Service duplication Duplication of routes and services Cost problems Unusually high per trip costs Chapter 5 Strategic Approaches to Coordination 99