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Demand-response transportation (DRT) systemsâfrom large metropolitan services to small, community-based programsâface pressures to improve performance, with increasing demand for service and financial constraints. To improve performance, the characteristics of DRT and the factors that impact performance must be understood. Consistently defined data and clearly defined performance measures are also needed so that DRT performance can be evaluated in a systematic manner. Assessments of DRT performance, both individual system evaluations over time as well as peer comparisons across the industry, will then be more reliable and meaningful. 1.1 Development of Guidebook and Relationship to TCRP Report 124 This Guidebook has been prepared under TCRP Project B-31, âGuidebook for Measuring, Assessing, and Improving Performance of Demand-Response Transportation.â The stated objec- tive of the research project was to develop a resource that provides guidance for measuring, eval- uating, and improving DRT performance with a methodology that recognizes the diversity of DRT services, service areas, and passengers. The research project has resulted in two guidebooks. The first focused on DRT systems in urban areas and was published in 2008 as TCRP Report 124: Guidebook for Measuring, Assessing, and Improving Performance of Demand-Response Transportation. This is TCRP Project B-13âs second guidebook and, given the important distinctions between DRT in rural and urban areas, it addresses rural DRT. Early efforts in the research project established that rural DRT systems have very different characteristics and data-collection issues relative to performance measurement compared with urban DRT systems. The research projectâs panel then determined that a separate guidebook for rural DRT was needed to adequately address performance measurement and improvement for rural systems. The research team followed a similar methodology in developing the Guidebook for rural DRT as was followed for the projectâs first guidebook, which has included â¢ Developing a typology of rural DRT systems based on criteria affecting performance, â¢ Defining key performance data and a limited set of performance measures for DRT, â¢ Identifying the various factors that influence DRT performance, â¢ Collecting performance data from DRT systems representative of the defined categories, â¢ Identifying actions that rural DRT systems have implemented to improve their perfor- mance, and â¢ Documenting quantitative and qualitative effects on performance from those actions. 1 C H A P T E R 1 Introduction
While this Guidebook focuses on rural DRT, it shares some similarities with TCRP Report 124, the urban Guidebook, particularly with the identification of factors that influence DRT perfor- mance and the background discussion on the development of the DRT typology. It is also noted that the rural Guidebook provides only limited information related to Americans with Disabil- ities Act (ADA) paratransit service because most rural DRT systems do not provide this type of DRT. Those rural systems interested in ADA paratransit and its performance may want to refer to the urban Guidebook for more information on that topic. 1.2 Guidebook Organization The Guidebook has seven chapters. Following this introduction in Chapter 1, Chapters 2 through 4 establish a framework for the Guidebook, with discussion on the diversity of DRT services and definitions of performance data and performance measures. The Rural National Transit Database (NTD) reporting requirements, introduced in 2006, are also discussed in relation to data definitions used for the Guidebook. Chapters 5 through 7 present the typology of rural DRT systems as well as performance data from more than 20 representative rural systems that provided data and information for the proj- ect. Strategies and actions for improving DRT performance are also provided. Readers of the Guidebook who are familiar with performance evaluation may find these latter chapters of the Guidebook more useful. After this first introductory chapter, the Guidebook includes the following: â¢ Chapter 2: Rural DRT and Why Performance Matters provides a brief background for the Guidebook, with discussion on the differences between rural and urban DRT as well as the broader environmentâgeographic, demographic, and policyâwithin which rural DRT operates. â¢ Chapter 3: Performance Data for Rural DRT identifies the key performance data for rural DRT. â¢ Chapter 4: Performance Measures for Rural DRT identifies a limited set of performance measures for rural DRT, building on the data elements discussed in Chapter 3. â¢ Chapter 5: Assessing PerformanceâA Typology of Rural DRT presents the typology of rural DRT systems, using criteria that influence DRT performance. This chapter also iden- tifies the various factors that influence performanceâcontrollable, uncontrollable, and partially controllable factors. â¢ Chapter 6: Performance Data from Representative Systems provides performance data from more than 20 representative rural DRT systems that participated in the research proj- ect, serving as benchmark data for peer comparisons. â¢ Chapter 7: Improving Performance presents policies, procedures, strategies, and practices that can improve DRT performance. The focus of the chapter is those actions taken by the rural systems participating in the research project, along with their quantitative and qual- itative experience with those actions. 2 Guidebook for Rural Demand-Response Transportation: Measuring, Assessing, and Improving Performance