Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
15 chapter three SURVEY RESULTS INTRODUCTION This chapter provides results of the survey conducted for this synthesis study documenting current practices of public tran- sit agenciesâ use of taxis to provide transportation for individ- uals with disabilities and older adults. The results also provide the agenciesâ perspectives on the advantages and challenges of using taxis as well as lessons learned. Forty-five transit agencies were selected as a survey sam- ple. These agencies were selected because they had indicated sponsorship of a subsidized taxi program in a prior study (1) or they were known to have a taxi-based program. Of the 45 agencies surveyed, 39 responded and indicated use of a taxi-based program, providing an 87% response rate. These 39 agencies are listed in Appendix A. This chapter focuses on the 39 agencies that have a taxi- based program, presenting the agenciesâ responses to the sur- vey questions. Tables in this chapter show the response count and the percentage that count represents of the agencies that responded to the specific question because not all agencies answered all questions. When multiple responses to a question are provided, the percentage will exceed 100%. At the bottom of the tables, âTotal respondentsâ displays the total number of agencies responding to the question and the percentage that represents of the 39 agencies with a taxi-based program. A complete listing of the survey questions and responses is provided in Appendix B. USE OF TAXIS Public transit agencies in communities of varying sizes use taxis to provide transportation for people with disabilities and older adults. Of the transit agencies in the studyâs survey effort that currently use taxis, one-third are in urban areas with populations of 50,000 to 200,000; slightly more than one-third operate in urban areas with populations of 200,000 to one million; and about one-fourth are in large metropolitan areas that have populations of more than one million. Two agencies are in rural areas (see Table 1). Taxi use for public transportation tends to be more common among urban communities than rural areas. Taxi companies operating in small towns and rural communities are often small businesses without the corporate structure and support func- tions that would meet requirements for providing subsidized public transportation service. This is not to say that taxis do not provide subsidized ser- vices in small and rural communities or that they are not impor- tant local transportation resources in such communities. As reported in chapter one, the 2013 Rural NTD includes 52 rural transit agencies that reported use of taxis. The surveyed transit agencies use taxis in several differ- ent ways, as shown in Table 2. Results show that 13 of the 39 (33%) transit agencies use taxis only for next-day service, either for ADA-eligible riders exclusively or ADA riders as well as people with disabilities and older adults not ADA eligible. Eleven (28%) agencies use taxis only for same-day taxi service, providing trips for ADA-eligible riders exclusively or ADA riders plus other people with disabilities and older adults not ADA eligible. Fifteen (38%) agencies use taxis for both ADA paratransit and same-day service. Of note, three of the transit agencies included in Table 2 specifically noted that their âtaxi-basedâ program is actually operated by sedans or limousines and not by taxis. This includes the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) in Baltimore, which specifically uses sedans for its same-day âCall-A-Rideâ program for ADA-eligible riders. Regulations governing the for-hire transportation industry, such as taxis, sedans, and livery services, typically differenti- ate between these transportation services. Among the distinc- tions are whether or not the vehicle has a meter and can accept street hails. Additional uses of taxis were reported by transit agen- cies when explaining âotherâ responses to survey questions. One agency said it uses taxis to provide transportation for low-income workers when the bus is not operating, another reported use of taxis for Medicaid transportation and âveter- ansâ services,â and one agency uses taxis to serve locations that the bus cannot safely access. In addition, 21 of the responding transportation agencies noted that there is at least one more organization in their com- munity that uses subsidized taxi transportation for its purposes, such as the local Area Agency on Aging.
16 TAXIS FOR ADA PARATRANSIT How Are Taxis Used for ADA Paratransit? Dedicated versus Nondedicated Service and Role in Service Operation With dedicated service, the taxis serve only the public transit agencyâs riders during specified time periods. The time period may be all day, a defined portion of the day (such as late night hours), or a specific period that is determined and scheduled by the transit agency on a daily basis. In the latter case, the transit agency may provide a manifest listing a sequence of rider pickup and drop-off locations. When nondedicated, taxis are not restricted to serving the agencyâs riders but may intermingle a transit agency trip with trips for general public, privately paying passengers. Among various types of trips that taxis can serve, a transit agency may ask the taxi company to pick up a rider who was not ready for her scheduled return trip because a medical appointment ran late or pick up a rider when the dedicated van is behind schedule or broken down. The taxi service may be provided through a direct contract with the public transit agency, or if the transit agency has a central call center contractor or uses a broker to handle trip requests, the contracting relationship may be between the call center contractor or broker and the taxi company. Table 3 displays the different ways that the surveyed tran- sit agencies use taxis for their ADA paratransit service. Most frequently, they are used on a nondedicated basis. Taxisâ role in service provision varies, with agencies often reporting multiple functions (see Table 4). Most frequently (64%), taxis serve trips throughout the service day that do not fit on the dedicated vehiclesâ schedules. Eight (29%) agencies reported that taxis provide all the service. Service Operation Trips for taxis are assigned in different ways and are not mutu- ally exclusive: prescheduled as individual trips and sent to the taxi company before the day of service for taxi dispatch (68%), assigned on a real-time basis on the day of service (52%), and prescheduled onto a manifest to be operated by a taxi driver (36%). Response Options Response Percentage Response Count Rural/small townâLess than 50,000 population 5 2 Urbanâ50,000 to 200,000 population 33 13 Large urbanâ200,000 to 1 million population 36 14 Metro regionâMore than 1 million population 26 10 Total responses 100 39 Total respondents 100 39 TABLE 1 HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE YOUR SERVICE AREA? Response Options ResponsePercentage Response Count We use taxis only to provide required, next-day ADA paratransit, which serves ADA-eligible/certified riders exclusively. 18 7 We use taxis only to provide required, next-day ADA paratransit, which serves ADA-eligible/certified riders and other individuals with disabilities and/or older adults not ADA-eligible/certified. 15 6 We use taxis only for a same-day taxi service that is beyond the requirements of the ADA, which serves ADA-eligible/certified riders exclusively. 10 4 We use taxis only for a same-day taxi service that is beyond the requirements of the ADA, which serves ADA-eligible/certified riders and others who are not ADA-eligible/certified, such as older adults and other people with disabilities. 18 7 We use taxis for both required, next-day ADA paratransit and a same-day taxi service that is beyond the requirements of the ADA. 38 15 Total responses 100 39 Total respondents 100 39 TABLE 2 HOW ARE TAXIS USED BY YOUR AGENCY TO SERVE PASSENGERS WITH DISABILITIES AND OLDER ADULTS?
17 When reserving a trip, riders most frequently call or contact the transit agency directly (31%) or its call center contractor or broker (31%). Riders may also call the prime transportation service contractor (19%) or the taxi company (15%). Survey results show that taxi trips are most often sched- uled by the call center contractor or broker (36%), the transit agency (32%), or the taxi company (29%). Payment The transit agencies represented by the survey have different fare structures for their ADA paratransit service. These range from a flat fare (43%), to double the fixed-route fare that may vary depending on peak or off peak (14%), to some other structure, such as fares that are established by service area zone or trip length (43%). The method of fare payment ranges from cash to more sophisticated methods, including use of a swipe or smart card, as shown in Table 5. The most common method is with cash (79%), and the second most common is some sort of paper- based payment, such as a ticket or voucher (64%). How Is the Taxi Company Paid? Table 6 shows that participating taxi companies are paid most frequently for ADA paratransit service by mileage-based TABLE 3 HOW ARE TAXIS USED FOR YOUR ADA PARATRANSIT SERVICE? Response Options Response Percentage Response Count On a dedicated basis (taxi vehicles serve only our passengers during the contracted time periods) by contracting directly with a taxi company(ies). 26 7 On a dedicated basis (taxi vehicles serve only our passengers during the contracted time periods) through our prime contractor (e.g., call center contractor, broker, prime transportation contractor, etc.), who subcontracts with a taxi company(ies). 11 3 On a nondedicated basis (taxi vehicles are not restricted to serving only our passengers) by contracting directly with a taxi company(ies). 63 17 On a nondedicated basis (taxi vehicles are not restricted to serving only our passengers) through our prime contractor (e.g., call center contractor, broker, prime transportation service contractor, etc.), who subcontracts with a taxi company(ies). 26 7 Total responses (multiple responses allowed; percentage exceeds 100) â 34 Total respondents 69 27 TABLE 4 HOW DO THE TAXIS OPERATE AS PART OF YOUR ADA PARATRANSIT SERVICE? Response Options Response Percentage Response Count Operate all of the service 29 8 Operate all of the service in specific zones or parts of the service area 4 1 Operate all of the service on certain days and/or times of the day 11 3 Serve trips throughout the service day that do not fit well on the dedicated vehicles 64 18 Provide certain trip purposes (e.g., trips to a particular agency, for ADA eligibility interviews, etc.) 11 3 Other; please explain 25 7 Total responses (multiple responses allowed; percentage exceeds 100) â 40 Total respondents 72 28
18 meter charges, for both dedicated service (47%) and non- dedicated service (54%). Public transit agencies using taxis for their ADA para- transit service may provide a payment when the scheduled rider is a no-show. This recognizes that the taxi driver has driven to the scheduled pickup location and waited for the rider, which requires time and operating costs for the taxi driver. According to the survey, somewhat more than half of the responding agencies provide payment for a rider no-show, either a standard payment or some other payment. The pay- ment may vary by whether the no-show address is located within the closer-in service area or in an outlying part of the service area. The standard payment typically is $5 or $10. Survey results indicate that all but one transit agency responding to the question on an extra payment or incentive for each passenger trip provide such a payment. Two of these agencies reported that the payment varies by whether the trip is for an ambulatory rider or one who uses a wheelchair. As independent contractors, taxi drivers cannot be forced by the taxi company to participate in public transit agency programs. Thus, direct incentives that make the subsidized trips more attractive can be helpful in encouraging drivers to serve such trips. SAME-DAY TAXI SERVICE Twenty-six surveyed transit agencies provide same-day taxi service; 11 of them reported using taxis only for same-day service. Agencies reporting the use of taxis for both ADA para- transit and same-day service use taxis to meet service needs or solve operational issues that arise on the day of service. Six agencies also have a same-day taxi service that is supple- mental to their ADA paratransit service. Such service generally is provided as a strategy to provide more cost-effective trips for ADA riders than next-day ADA paratransit program (9). Riders Served Table 7 identifies the riders who are served by the same-day taxi service, with responses showing that transit agencies more frequently provide the service to ADA-eligible riders (56%). Somewhat more than one-third of the agencies also serve other people with disabilities and seniors, but riders do not have to be ADA eligible (36%). Response Options Response Percentage Response Count Cash 79 22 Paper ticket, voucher, scrip 64 18 Prepaid account without a swipe/smart card 7 2 Swipe/smart card 18 5 Other; please explain 29 8 Total responses (multiple responses allowed; percentage exceeds 100) â 55 Total respondents 72 28 TABLE 5 HOW DO RIDERS PAY THE FARE FOR THE ADA PARATRANSIT TRIP PROVIDED BY TAXI? TABLE 6 HOW ARE TAXI COMPANIES PAID FOR DEDICATED AND NONDEDICATED SERVICE? Response Options Response Percentage Response Count Dedicated service Per hour 18 3 Per mile/meter 47 8 Per trip 29 5 Other, please specify 6 1 Total responses 100 17 Total respondents 44 17 Nondedicated Per hour 4 1 Per mile/meter 54 13 Per trip 21 5 Other, please specify 21 5 Total responses 100 24 Total respondents 62 24
19 How Does the Same-Day Taxi Service Work? For same-day service, more than two-thirds (69%) of agen- cies reported that the rider contacts the taxi company directly for a trip reservation. The taxi company, in all but three cases, schedules the trip. Payment Public transit agencies have varying fare structures for same-day taxi service. These range from a basic flat fare to something more complicated. For example, the rider pays an initial amount and the transit agency subsidizes a set dollar amount on the meter, with the rider responsible for any trip cost above that amount. The fare structure can also be designed with varying sub- sidy levels, depending on rider income. One interesting system charges a base fare plus a mileage charge that is determined by zone, as opposed to a meter charge that typically would include not only a mileage component but also a âwaiting timeâ com- ponent. Table 8 provides a sample of these payment systems; all responses to the question are shown in Appendix B. One advantage of same-day programs that are provided to help meet ADA paratransit demand is the ability to set a maximum subsidy amount so the transit agencyâs cost per trip never exceeds a predetermined amount. Even if the riderâs trip is longer than what the subsidy level providesâ with a meter cost exceeding the predetermined dollar amountâthe transit agency pays no more than the set dol- lar amount. For example, one of the surveyed transit agen- cies requires the rider to pay $3.50 upon boarding and then any cost over $14.60 on the meter. In this way, the transit agency pays no more than $11.10 for its ridersâ same-day taxi trips. Riders pay for their same-day taxi trips in varying ways, with cash and some sort of paper fareâa ticket, voucher, scripâthe most commonly reported, as shown in Table 9. Transit agencies reimburse taxi companies for same-day trips predominantly based on the meter charge (48%), although a number of agencies pay by the trip (32%). Nineteen of the 26 (73%) agencies responding to the ques- tion on extra payments for ridersâ trips indicated they do pro- vide such a payment. For example, one transit agency reported an incentive of $10 per wheelchair trip, and another provided $25 if an accessible vehicle is dispatched for the trip. FUNDING FOR TAXI-BASED SERVICES Funding for transit agenciesâ taxi-based services, beyond rider fares, comes from federal, state, and local sources as well as from human service agencies (see Table 10). Many of the responding agencies reported more than one funding source. Local funds were identified most frequently, by 83% of responding agencies. VERIFYING AND AUDITING TAXI TRIPS One area of interest for the synthesis study was the method that transit agencies use to verify and audit the taxi trips they subsidize. There was a particular interest in whether transit agencies use technology to verify and audit trips. Thirty-one agencies provided a brief explanation of their process. Sev- eral of these explained use of a rider swipe card with auto- mated audit functions. Other respondents used a variety of techniques. Some are able to match data on the taxi company invoice with trips in the agencyâs scheduling software as taxi trips are included or added to the software database. Many use a basic process of reviewing individual taxi trips: for example, they examine used vouchers or trip data from the TABLE 7 WHAT TYPES OF RIDERS ARE SERVED BY YOUR SAME-DAY TAXI SERVICE THAT IS BEYOND THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE ADA? Response Options Response Percentage Response Count Passengers who are certified as ADA eligible 56 20 Passengers who have disabilities and seniors, but they do not have to be ADA paratransit certified 36 13 Passengers who have disabilities, seniors, and other transportation- disadvantaged (e.g., low-income individuals), but they do not have to be ADA paratransit certified 17 6 General public 17 6 Others 22 8 Total responses (multiple responses allowed; percentage exceeds 100) â 53 Total respondents 92 36
20 TABLE 8 SAMPLE FARE STRUCTURES FOR SAME-DAY TAXI SERVICE Varies by community. Customers in some communities pay a flat fare with a distance-based component. Seniors and people with disabilities receive tickets, which have the recipientâs name, but no value. When they take a taxi trip, they pay $1.75 and give the ticket to the taxi driver. General public riders purchase a ticket for $3.00 each, which they use to pay for their taxi trips. Tickets for both programs are limited by available funding. Rates are based on the taxi companiesâ fare per mile & base meter rate. A voucher pays 80% of a trip up [to] $10. The max a voucher will pay is $10. The participant pays the remaining balance (20% of the fare or the fare minus $10). General Program fare = $3.00. Transit agency pays up to $20 for the trip and customer pays overage. Dialysis Center Program fare = $2.00. Transit agency pays up to $20 for the trip and customer pays overage. Itâs a reimbursement based program. Passengers pay the full taxi fare up front and then get reimbursed 85% of the fare up to $20 maximum reimbursement per one way ride. The taxi operator runs the meter for the duration of the trip and the client pays with tickets. The booklet contains $51.00 worth of rides. So if the meter is $7.35, the client will give $7.00 worth in tickets and real change or $8.00 [in] coupons. The taxi does not give change so we encourage the clients to have change if they do not want to give an additional 1 dollar coupon. Passenger pays first $2.00; transit agency pays the next $12. Passenger pays the difference beyond $14.00 on the meter. Regardless of fare, transit agency pays a flat rate of $12.00 per trip. Under the current model the passenger pays the fare on the meter with the swipe card, the passenger discount is when the customer loads money on the card. For every dollar added the passenger match is a dollar up to $75.00 per month for a maximum total of $150.00 per month and a three month card maximum of $450.00. Fares are all metered with an initial drop fee of $3.00 and $3.12 per mile. Rider pays first $3.50 and then anything over $14.60 on the meter. Fare is the taxi meter rate established by County regulation. The program subsidizes the taxi cost on a sliding fee scale (50â90%) based on participantsâ income. Base fare + mileage via zones. Average fare $7.25 one way. Seniors pay $1, $3, or $5 per trip depending on income. Disabled pay $1.00 per trip regardless of income. City provides 12 monthly trips and pays up to $13.00 per trip. Base $2 fare (during bus hours), plus $1 convenience fee; base $5 fare (outside of bus hours), plus $1 convenience fee. Response Options Response Percentage Response Count Federal transit funds 50 18 State transit funds 53 19 Local funds 83 30 Human service agency funds 22 8 Total responses (multiple responses allowed; percentage exceeds 100) â 75 Total respondents 92 36 TABLE 10 WHAT FUNDING IS USED TO PROVIDE THE TAXI-BASED SERVICE BESIDES RIDER FARES? Response Options Response Percentage Response Count Cash 53 19 Paper ticket/voucher/scrip 42 15 Swipe/smart card 19 7 Riderâs personal credit/debit card 17 6 Other; please explain 17 6 Total responses (multiple responses allowed; percentage exceeds 100) â 53 Total respondents 92 36 TABLE 9 HOW DO RIDERS PAY THE FARE FOR THE SAME-DAY TAXI SERVICE?
21 taxi company for possible problem trips with missing data or vouchers with duplicate numbers. Complete responses from the 31 agencies are provided in Appendix B. A sample of responses is provided in Table 11 to illustrate the range of verification processes. TAXI VEHICLES AND REGULATIONS The ADA regulations include a section addressing taxi com- paniesâ obligations for accessible vehicles. According to 49 CFR Â§37.29, âPrivate Entities Providing Taxi Service,â the ADA regulations state that taxi service providers do not have to purchase or lease accessible automobiles as long as they operate only sedan-type automobile vehicles. However, taxi companies are subject to the requirements of private entities primarily engaged in the business of trans- porting people with demand-responsive service. Although the ADA does not require taxi companies to operate more than traditional sedan vehicles, many taxi com- panies have acquired accessible vehicles for their taxi busi- ness. Often these are minivans with a ramp, or they may be lift-equipped small buses. In some cases, taxi companies made the acquisition of accessible vehicles on their own to expand their business base. In other cases, the taxi regula- tory bodyâthe city, county, or a public utility commissionâ has incentivized or required the taxi company to purchase accessible vehicles. Incentives are often provided in the way of offering new taxi licenses only for accessible vehicles. Requirements typically mandate that a certain percentage of the taxi companyâs fleet must be wheelchair accessible. TABLE 11 SAMPLE TRIP VERIFICATION METHODS An employee of the transit agency reviews cost of individual trips charged to the agency in particular when they are over $40. He compares direct mileage of trip on Google Transit and the performed mileage. When itâs a group trip (pick-pick-drop-drop) it is handled by charging mileage and fare from first pick to last drop. Itâs not perfect but out of 10 or 20 questioned trip charges each month, we might find one with inadequate explanation and reduce payment accordingly. Very tedious process. We make sure the vouchers were used during the correct range (vouchers expire at the end of each calendar month), that all the information is filled inâaddress, passenger signature, total meter fare, passenger fare, mileage, Driver ID number, Cab ID number, date, company, and the Trip ID (acts as a receipt). If there are any questions we contact the company or participant for more information. We have an internal system built to flag vouchers that have duplicate serial numbers and to sort the type of voucherâcurrently four voucher programs, soon to be five. All trips are audited through software in real time. The taxi operators bring their manifest along with tickets collected to the contractor. The contractor verifies the clientsâ names against the clients listing in the office and then verifies that the dollar amount on the manifest matches the number of tickets being submitted for reimbursement. Transit agency audits monthly billings at the individual trip invoice level. Itâs a fairly small volume so do-able. Taxi drivers must fill out an invoice for each individual or grouped ride with all trip details. These invoices are submitted with the monthly bill and are matched to trip records in the agencyâs dispatch system. A percentage of passengers are telephoned each day verifying the previous dayâs trip. We audit a percentage of rides by asking the taxi company to produce driver manifests that match the trip information the call center sent to them and the information they invoiced. Contracted taxi services are networked with our scheduling system. Trips are performed in our system. The User Side Subsidy Program is managed by a Swipe Card with automated audit functions. In addition, audit queries are used to verify trip information prior to payment. All trips are dispatched electronically to MDTs, which capture pick up and drop off times and locations which is GPS verified. All customer bookings are recorded in the scheduling software. We have a program that matches the bookings on taxis with the billing received from the taxi company. Trips that donât match are returned to the taxi company unpaid, and the bill is paid minus the disputed trips. The company may provide verification of the disputed trips, and submit them as rebills on the subsequent bill. If they cannot verify and rebill, the unmatched trips remain unpaid. All trips must go through the taxi companiesâ dispatch; all trips must begin with a swipe of the program participantsâ automated swipe card, which activates the GPS coordinates and also documents the origin of the trip; at the destination the card is swiped again to complete the purchase and document the destination. The electronic swipe card system allows us to receive and document each trip real time in our database. When invoices are submitted by the Taxi companies the audit process includes both system and manual screening to identify trips which may not be valid. The system checks for trips with high fares with low mileages, missing the initial swipe and GPS coordinates, trips with excessive tip amounts, total fare amounts which do not correspond with card records, missing data or incomplete data columns, driver # vs. participants card # (to avoid trip concentration or personal drivers), etc. Overflow taxi service is non-dedicated and trips are dispatched by the taxi company from the pool of daily work (based on the negotiated pickup time). A report of these trips is sent to the taxi company the night before and any add-ons/changes occurring after that time go out by phone/email. The taxi company has access to our Trapeze scheduling software and they complete mile, hour, rider, and fare data entry therein, while also providing a scanned copy of the driverâs paper log and an AVL data dump. We use automated reports to identify errors (for correction) in trip data entry and automated reports to validate no show assessments (to customers) and missed trip assessments (to the taxi company). In addition, we perform field audits of driver performance, on time compliance, and AVL sampling.
22 Because some portion of people with disabilities and older adults use wheelchairs or scooters, a taxi company with acces- sible vehicles becomes a more suitable and attractive option to a public transportation agency. Table 12 shows that almost all of the surveyed transit agen- cies use at least one taxi company that operates accessible vehicles, with only three (8%) agencies reporting that the taxi company they use does not have any accessible vehicles. Fewer than one-third (30%) of the agencies assisted the taxi company in obtaining accessible vehicles, with Table 13 providing results and displaying the ways that the agen- cies provided assistance. Three of the agencies specifically indicated use of FTAâs New Freedom grant funds to pur- chase accessible taxis. Data from the Taxi, Limousine & Paratransit Association estimate that about 11% of acces- sible taxis nationwide have been purchased with funding assistance through the New Freedom grant program (1). The survey asked transit agencies to indicate which entity regulates the taxis that the agency uses. With multiple response options possible, the most frequently identified regulatory entity is the city or cities served by the transit agency. Three agencies included in the âotherâ category indicated that the taxi industry where they operate is not regulated. Responses are shown in Table 14. According to the survey, about half of the identified regulatory entities do not require taxi companies to have accessible vehicles. Of the agencies reporting regulatory requirements for accessible taxi vehicles, four specified the requirements, which ranged from one vehicle per company or 1% of the fleet to requiring 20% of every taxi company fleet to be accessible. The survey also asked respondents whether they think that the regulations are adequate in regulating the taxi indus- try in the agencyâs jurisdiction(s). As shown in Table 15, 46% answered âyes,â 34% âno,â and the rest âhavenât really thought about it.â Additional comments regarding taxi regula- tions provided by 16 of the transit agencies responding to the question are shown in Appendix B; four of these comments Response Options Response Percentage Response Count Yes 61 23 Only some of the multiple taxi companies that we use operate accessible vehicles 32 12 No 8 3 Total responses 100 38 Total respondents 97 38 TABLE 12 DOES THE TAXI COMPANY(IES) THAT YOUR AGENCY USES HAVE ACCESSIBLE VEHICLES? TABLE 13 HAS YOUR TRANSIT AGENCY ASSISTED THE TAXI COMPANY(IES) TO OBTAIN ACCESSIBLE VEHICLES; FOR EXAMPLE, LEASED ACCESSIBLE VEHICLES TO THE TAXI COMPANY(IES)? Response Options Response Percentage Response Count No 70 26 Yes; please explain: 30 11 Total responses 100 37 Total respondents 95 37 Explanation: We encouraged Yellow Cab to apply for New Freedom funds to purchase eight accessible minivans 4 years ago. We retained ownership of the vehicles and required 5â6 of the vehicles to be dedicated to Paratransit and the rest were to help expand general community capacity of accessible taxis. City has acquired accessible mini-vans and one accessible small bus which the taxi company uses to provide the subsidized trips. Yes, we own 9 of the 11 accessible taxis current operating in ______. Purchased accessible vehicles through a New Freedom grant. Taxi company supplied all vehicles for many years. Lately, transit agency has decided to purchase the vehicles, six of 15 so far, with the remaining nine vehicles to be supplied by transit agency by 2016. We lease our vehicles to the taxi company. New Freedom funding for the first four accessible taxis in the county. We provide the taxi company with six of our paratransit vehicles. Those six vehicles are identical to the rest of the fleet. We did when the program started, but last 10+ years they have provided their own accessible vehicles. We lease five accessible minivans to the taxi companies for $250.00 per month.
23 mention issues related to TNCs, and three noted the lack of regulations addressing wheelchair-accessible taxis. TECHNOLOGY More than half (59%) of the surveyed transit agencies have in-vehicle equipment and technology providing data on the taxi trips for monitoring and auditing purposes. There are multiple functions of that technology, as shown in Table 16, with the most common feature providing real- time tracking of vehicle location through automatic vehicle location (AVL). In most cases, the technology for the taxi service is not the same equipment and technology used for the transit agencyâs ADA paratransit-dedicated vehicle fleet. Only six of the 29 agencies answering the question replied that the technology for the taxis and the dedicated paratransit fleet is the same. The survey asked transit agencies that have implemented an electronic fare system (i.e., using a swipe or smart card) if they had advice to offer to other transit agencies consider- ing such technology. Table 17 provides comments and useful advice reported by seven agencies. ADVANTAGES AND CHALLENGES The literature review found references to various advantages and challenges of using taxis to provide public transit agencyâ sponsored services. Many of these were echoed by the survey results. Table 18 lists the advantages of taxi use for next-day ADA paratransit service reported by respondents. The top three are: â¢ Taxis improve overall cost efficiency. â¢ Taxis serve âoverflowâ trips on a prescheduled basis during peak periods and other times. TABLE 14 WHAT ENTITY REGULATES THE TAXIS THAT YOUR AGENCY USES? Response Options Response Percentage Response Count We regulate the taxi industry. 16 6 The city/ies where we operate regulates taxis. 54 20 The county/ies where we operate regulates taxis. 22 8 The state regulates taxis (e.g., a state public utility or service commission). 30 11 Other 19 7 Total responses (multiple responses allowed; percentage exceeds 100) â 52 Total respondents 95 37 TABLE 15 DO YOU THINK THE TAXI REGULATIONS ARE ADEQUATE TO REGULATE THE TAXI INDUSTRY IN YOUR JURISDICTION(S)? Response Options Response Percentage Response Count Yes 46 16 No 34 12 Havenât really thought about it 20 7 Total responses 100 35 Total respondents 90 35 TABLE 16 IF YES, WHAT ARE THE FUNCTIONS OF THE TECHNOLOGY? Response Options Response Percentage Response Count Riders use a swipe/smart card that serves as an ID card. 35 9 Ridersâ swipe/smart card provides payment (some or all) for the trip. 31 8 The card/technology identifies the specific trip origin and destination locations. 46 12 The card/technology provides date and time stamps of pickups and drop-offs. 50 13 Technology allows real-time tracking of vehicle location (e.g., with AVL). 62 16 Other 38 10 Total responses (multiple responses allowed; percentage exceeds 100) â 68 Total respondents 67 26
24 Response Response Count 7 One of our challenges has been the varied type of equipment among taxi companies. System communication, cashiering, system updates posed some issues (e.g., a taxi company may update their servers and cut communication without notice). Processes and established procedures are important when migrating to an electronic system. Do it! You wonât regret it. Itâs worth the hassle especially for the monitoring capability and the ability to assure that the amount paid is the meter amount. Itâs easier for all involved: companies, drivers, and customers, after the initial burn in startup period. Ensure that all participating taxicab vendors utilize compatible program/systems as is developed and supported by the Program, including appropriate technology, hardware and software equipment, such as Mobile Data Computers (MDCs), taxicab meters, card-swipe equipment, Global Positioning System (GPS) device, and manual card printers (or smart printers) to successfully provide ongoing system processing capabilities. Some taxi companies that participate with our program have these capabilities but our program does not use them. Other cities and the regional system use this technology. So, the infrastructure for this technology does exist locally but the cost to join such a program is much higher than what our program currently costs to operate. Time consuming to make the transition but worth the effort. We offer mobile ticketing for smartphone users. Through separate customer surveys, we have learned that there are significantly fewer smartphone users among our paratransit customer base than our fixed-route customer base. If considering adoption of smart technologies, it is advisable to poll your customer base to determine what smart technologies might best suit their needs, interests, and the tech they have access to. Additionally, choose customer enrollment/unenrollment (opt in/opt out) methods that require limited or no manual data entry/tracking/validation by office staff. Last, if sharing systems between paratransit and other modes, be sure paratransit has its own segregated reports (membership counts, usage, revenue, etc.) as itâll come in handy for various forms of review and analysis. Allow adequate time, 6 to 12 months, for educating customers, cab drivers and training staff. Test the technology with cab company providers and field test the program with customers. Notify customers of the change in writing and offer them the chance to talk with a staff person on the phone. Make presentations to appropriate facilities. TABLE 17 IF YOUR AGENCY HAS IMPLEMENTED AN ELECTRONIC FARE SYSTEM, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE ANOTHER TRANSIT AGENCY THAT WAS CONSIDERING TRANSITIONING FROM A PAPER SYSTEM TO AN ELECTRONIC FARE SYSTEM? TABLE 18 WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF USING TAXIS FOR REQUIRED, NEXT-DAY ADA PARATRANSIT SERVICE? Major Advantage Minor Advantage Not VeryAdvantages Important Improve overall cost efficiency 22 6 3 Serve âoverflowâ trips on prescheduled basis during peak periods and other times 22 6 2 Serve âoverflowâ trips on day-of- service/real-time scheduling basis during peak periods and other times 22 3 4 Provide service during low-demand periods 8 13 7 Provide service in outlying parts of service area 17 6 7 Improve productivity of dedicated fleet 12 11 6 Expand service without buying vehicles 20 6 4 Reduce/eliminate trip denials 18 4 7 Provide a service that riders like 13 12 6 Total respondents 79% 31
25 Major AdvantageAdvantages Minor Advantage Not Very Important Help meet demand for ADA paratransit trips 20 5 4 Serve ADA-eligible riders outside the Â¾-mi corridors of fixed routes 9 4 12 Provide a same-day trip option for ADA-eligible riders 16 6 6 Serve seniors and those with disabilities not eligible/certified for ADA paratransit 16 2 10 Serve seniors, those with disabilities, those with lower incomes, and others who are not eligible/certified for ADA paratransit 14 4 9 Total respondents 74% 29 TABLE 19 WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF USING TAXIS FOR SAME-DAY TAXI SERVICE BEYOND REQUIREMENTS OF THE ADA? â¢ Taxi serve âoverflowâ trips on a day-of-service or real- time scheduling basis during peak periods and other times. Additional important advantages include: use of taxis allows service expansion without buying new vehicles; taxis help reduce or eliminate trip denials; and taxis can provide service in outlying parts of the service area. In short, taxis have a number of advantages for ADA para- transit, particularly in their cost efficiencies and their ability to respond quickly and serve trips that help solve operational and day-of-service needs. Taxis also have advantages for providing same-day ser- vice, which is not required by the ADA (see Table 19). The primary advantage is the ability of taxis to help meet demand for ADA paratransit trips. Other important advantages include taxis can provide a same-day trip option for ADA riders and taxis can serve seniors and people with disabilities who are not ADA paratransit eligible as well as others with needs, such as individuals with lower incomes. There are also challenges for transit agencies that use taxis, as shown in Table 20. The primary challenge reported is the effort needed for oversight and monitoring of the taxi service. The second most cited challenge is the lack of accessible taxi TABLE 20 WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES OF USING TAXIS? Major ChallengeChallenges Minor Challenge Not an Issue Efforts needed for oversight and monitoring 20 11 3 Taxi company/ies has/have difficulty with reporting requirements 12 13 8 Overall service quality 7 18 8 Service reliability (e.g., late trips, missed trips) 8 13 13 Driver quality (e.g., driver assistance, adequate English language skills) 7 19 7 Inadequate driver training 9 13 12 Difficulty/inability to meet insurance requirements 3 6 24 Difficulty/inability to meet FTA drug and alcohol testing requirements 3 9 22 Lack of accessible taxi vehicles 18 6 11 Inadequate taxi regulations governing taxi industry 6 9 17 Complications with/resistance from the transit union 1 5 26 Impact on taxi industry with competition from transportation network companies (TNCs) (e.g., Uber, Lyft) 8 6 17 Other 10 0 2 Total respondents 85% 33
26 vehicles. In addition, a number of agencies reported chal- lenges with reporting requirements. Minor challenges reported the most frequently include issues with driver quality (e.g., providing assistance to riders) and overall service quality. TRANSPORTATION NETWORK COMPANIES TNCs such as Uber and Lyft are active in numerous U.S. cities and in many cases have disrupted the taxi industry. There was particular interest for this synthesis study to identify the extent to which that disruption had affected public transit agenciesâ use of taxis. The responses provided by the 26 transit agencies that answered the question on TNCs are shown in Table 21. Thir- teen agencies indicted that TNCs are not an issue or that they have not specifically affected the transit agencyâs subsidized service. However, a number of those agencies qualified their response, with comments such as âNo change in [our] ser- vice, but [the] taxi contractor has commented that it is getting harder to keep drivers from jumping to Uber.â Responses Response Percentage Response Count Total respondents 67% 26 At least one company has gone out of business but others have adapted by providing rideshare- like services. None of the impacts have made much of a difference to our program. Participants in our program cannot schedule trips through the rideshare-like service currently offered. Not an issue. While still a minor problem in [agency location] County, some taxi drivers are moving to TNCs or provide dual services. This is not good for the taxi industry as a whole and TNCs currently do not provide any accessibility options in our area. If taxi services as we known them today disappear, who will serve the elderly and disabled? Notwithstanding these concerns, there is still a lot of room for improvement in the taxi industry including adopting some of the conveniences, and vehicle and grooming standards typically offered by TNCs. Competition with higher fare trips. N/A. Not clear yet. Havenât been impacted. The taxi company has some concerns about getting and keeping good drivers. N/A. We have not seen any impacts in our area. Uber is currently being fined each day for operating in our city without a public passenger license. Our concern is that Uber will take so much taxi business that the taxis will have to decrease their fleets leaving the call center without a much needed transportation resource for customers served by multiple funding sources. No impact in providing services to date. No noticeable impact on service. It has been reported that the taxi companies are seeing a 30% loss in service to TNCs. N/A. At this time, Uber has agreed to temporarily suspend operations for 90 days to allow the City time to work out the regulatory issues. Per the agreement, they will begin operating on April 9th, 2015. So it is too soon to tell in our City. No impact so far. No change in service but taxi contractor has commented that it is getting harder to keep drivers from jumping to Uber. N/A. N/A. At this point only minor impact has been observed. We are so small, we have not seen major impacts on our service. The local taxi company has kept us apprised of the fact that they are experiencing an impact, but most of our manifests are performed by the owner of the company, and dedicated employees. There have been impacts to the taxi industry by the introduction of the TNCs. Itâs a changing environment so itâs still hard to know what all the impacts will be. The one that has been felt the strongest has been a shortage of taxi drivers because would-be drivers are going to TNCs instead. This has had a particular impact on the Accessible Taxis because driving one of those cabs already has more challenges than a regular sedan, such as higher fuel costs, greater maintenance costs, more time to secure wheelchair users, potentially more deadhead time to reach customers, etc. Incentives are necessary to draw drivers to the service and even with incentives we are still experiencing challenges. We are in a suburban low density area and the limited taxi market has seen little impact from TNCs as yet. We are concerned about future issues as their presence grows. TNCs have attracted drivers from the taxi companies. Consequently, fewer taxi drivers are available for the sedans. Our taxi vendor has other incentives to keep accessible minivan drivers behind the wheel. This results in late pickups and complaintsâalmost entirely from ambulatory riders. To date we have not seen an impact. However, it could work to our advantage by freeing more cabs for our programs, unless a lot of cab drivers go to the TNCs. Iâm not aware of this new TNC option having a significant impact in our community yet. TABLE 21 IMPACTS OF TNCS
27 Three agencies indicated that impacts are not clear, and six reported minor issues resulting from TNC impacts, with qualifying comments such as âWe are concerned about future issues as their [TNCs] presence grows.â Three transit agencies more clearly indicated issues with TNCs and said that TNC competition with the taxi industry has negatively affected the agency-sponsored service. A comment from a transit agency in a suburban county is particularly telling: While still a minor problem in [our county], some taxi drivers are moving to TNCs or provide dual services. This is not good for the taxi industry as a whole and TNCs currently do not provide any accessibility options in our area. If taxi services as we know them today disappear, who will serve the elderly and disabled? Notwithstanding these concerns, there is still a lot of room for improvement in the taxi industry, including adopting some of the conveniences and vehicle and grooming standards typically offered by TNCs. LESSONS LEARNED An important objective of this synthesis was to learn from the experiences of public transit agencies that now use taxis and share those lessons with agencies considering the use of taxis. Thirty of the transit agencies responding to the syn- thesis survey generously provided their advice and experi- ences. That advice is synthesized here, with the agenciesâ full responses shown in Appendix B. Two conclusions emerge most frequently. The first is the need for concerted oversight and monitoring of the transit agencyâs subsidized taxi services. Here is sample advice from two agencies: â¢ âImportant to have methods to audit trips.â â¢ âHave very structured oversight and monitoring activi- ties built into the service model.â The second conclusion is the importance of understanding the business and culture of the taxi industry and then finding a taxi company interested in building a relationship with the transit agency. Sample comments include: â¢ Among the âmost important elements [is] selecting a company interested in long-term growth as opposed to a quick profit and working to understand their business.â â¢ âUnderstand their model and culture is very different. . . . It has to start with [taxi company] upper manage- ment who sees the potential of serving this population (in and outside of your contract). [If the upper manage- ment does not see this potential], you probably canât lead this horse to water.â â¢ â[B]uild relationships with taxi companies so that they can see your services as a market they could fulfill and you can better understand how the services you need may fit within their framework.â â¢ âGetting the emotional as well as [the] written commit- ment of the [taxi] vendor is a base requirement.â Other lessons that emerge from the transit agenciesâ responses, along with some of the agenciesâ direct advice, include (listed in order of their mention): â¢ A transit agency should be clear regarding its expecta- tions for the taxi company and the services to be provided. â âClearly define expectations and requirements.â â âClear and concise contract Scope of Servicesâ especially regarding billing, record-keeping, and reporting is also vital.â â¢ Training for taxi drivers is important. â âHold the bar high and expect the same driver train- ing and quality as any other contractor.â â¢ Be sure to focus on the need and requirements for data reporting. â âAddress the data and reporting issues up front if there will be a high volume of tripsâNTD will make you crazy if not.â â¢ Use technology if possible. â âEstablish an electronic swipe card system instead of vouchers to help with GPS tracking and invoice reconciliation.â â¢ Ensure riders understand what to expect from taxi- based service. â âBe very clear to riders about how the taxi service works.â â âLimit expectations. ADA paratransit is to be com- parable to fixed-route service, not an exclusive car service.â â¢ There may be some service quality issues. â â[Q]uality is not what it should be and our efforts are ongoing.â â âThe transit agency is competing with everyone else in the market place so at times when there are spe- cial events in the community, cab service for transit customers may be compromised.â â¢ Incentives are needed for accessible taxis. â Among requirements for using a taxi company: âincentives to reduce the daily rental cost for drivers of accessible taxis.â â âA higher [reimbursement] rate for an accessible vehicle may motivate more drivers to purchase acces- sible vehicles.â OPERATING DATA FOR TAXI-BASED SERVICES The survey asked the transit agencies to provide operating data on their taxi-based services for the most recent fiscal year, with data as appropriate for ADA paratransitâboth dedicated and nondedicated serviceâand for same-day taxi service. Fewer than half of responding agencies pro- vided data, and the reported numbers covered a wide range, from a limited amount of taxi service to much more robust service.
28 The data reported that the number of annual taxi trips used by agencies varies widelyâfrom fewer than 5,000 to almost 900,000. The cost data suggest that public transit agency busi- ness generates income for the taxi industry, supporting a find- ing from the literature review that transit agency contracts can be an important source of taxi business, increasingly from ADA paratransit programs. Cost-per-passenger trip data reported here has been gen- erated from figures submitted by those surveyed agencies that provided annual data for their taxi service for operating cost and passenger trips. For ADA paratransit service pro- vided on a dedicated basis, cost per trip by taxiâaccording to the reported data from nine agenciesâranged from $11 to $49.73, with an average trip cost of $28.17. For ADA para- transit service provided on a nondedicated basis, costs per trip by taxiâas reported by 14 agenciesâranged from $12.14 to $34.99, with an average of $23.29. For same-day service, costs per passenger trip by taxiâbased on the reported data from 12 agenciesâranged from $7.44 to $26.13, with an average of $14.36. These cost figures calculated from the reported survey data can be compared with national data on the cost for ADA paratransit: the 2013 NTD report year shows the average cost per passenger trip for demand-response service, which is predominantly ADA paratransit, is $34.06. For the largest 50 transit agencies, the figure is $43.65.