National Academies Press: OpenBook

Addressing Difficult Customer Situations (2017)

Chapter: Front Matter

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Addressing Difficult Customer Situations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24701.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Addressing Difficult Customer Situations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24701.
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T R A N S I T C O O P E R A T I V E R E S E A R C H P R O G R A M TCRP SYNTHESIS 127 Subject AreAS Passenger Transportation • Public Transportation • Safety and Human Factors • Society Addressing Difficult Customer Situations A Synthesis of Transit Practice conSultAnt Joel M. Volinski University of South Florida Tampa, Florida Research Sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration in Cooperation with the Transit Development Corporation 2017

TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM The nation’s growth and the need to meet mobility, environmen- tal, and energy objectives place demands on public transit systems. Current systems, some of which are old and in need of upgrading, must expand service area, increase service frequency, and improve efficiency to serve these demands. Research is necessary to solve operating problems, adapt appropriate new technologies from other industries, and introduce innovations into the transit industry. The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) serves as one of the principal means by which the transit industry can develop innovative near-term solutions to meet demands placed on it. The need for TCRP was originally identified in TRB Special Report 213—Research for Public Transit: New Directions, published in 1987 and based on a study sponsored by the Urban Mass Transportation Administration—now the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). A report by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Transportation 2000, also recognized the need for local, problem- solving research. TCRP, modeled after the successful National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), undertakes research and other technical activities in response to the needs of transit service providers. The scope of TCRP includes various transit research fields including planning, service configuration, equipment, facilities, operations, human resources, maintenance, policy, and administrative practices. TCRP was established under FTA sponsorship in July 1992. Pro- posed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, TCRP was autho- rized as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA). On May 13, 1992, a memorandum agreement outlining TCRP operating procedures was executed by the three cooperating organizations: FTA; the National Academies of Sci- ences, Engineering, and Medicine, acting through the Transportation Research Board (TRB); and the Transit Development Corporation, Inc. (TDC), a nonprofit educational and research organization estab- lished by APTA. TDC is responsible for forming the independent governing board, designated as the TCRP Oversight and Project Selection (TOPS) Committee. Research problem statements for TCRP are solicited periodically but may be submitted to TRB by anyone at any time. It is the respon- sibility of the TOPS Committee to formulate the research program by identifying the highest priority projects. As part of the evaluation, the TOPS Committee defines funding levels and expected products. Once selected, each project is assigned to an expert panel appointed by TRB. The panels prepare project statements (requests for propos- als), select contractors, and provide technical guidance and counsel throughout the life of the project. The process for developing research problem statements and selecting research agencies has been used by TRB in managing cooperative research programs since 1962. As in other TRB activities, TCRP project panels serve voluntarily without compensation. Because research cannot have the desired effect if products fail to reach the intended audience, special emphasis is placed on dissemi- nating TCRP results to the intended users of the research: transit agencies, service providers, and suppliers. TRB provides a series of research reports, syntheses of transit practice, and other support- ing material developed by TCRP research. APTA will arrange for workshops, training aids, field visits, and other activities to ensure that results are implemented by urban and rural transit industry practitioners. TCRP provides a forum where transit agencies can cooperatively address common operational problems. TCRP results support and complement other ongoing transit research and training programs. TCRP SYNTHESIS 127 Project J-7, Topic SF-19 ISSN 1073-4880 ISBN 978-0-309-38994-5 Library of Congress Control Number 2016961956 © 2017 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. COPYRIGHT INFORMATION Authors herein are responsible for the authenticity of their materials and for obtaining written permissions from publishers or persons who own the copyright to any previously published or copyrighted material used herein. Cooperative Research Programs (CRP) grants permission to reproduce material in this publication for classroom and not-for-profit purposes. Permission is given with the understanding that none of the material will be used to imply TRB, AASHTO, FAA, FHWA, FMCSA, FRA, FTA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology, PHMSA, or TDC endorsement of a particular product, method, or practice. It is expected that those reproducing the material in this document for educational and not-for-profit uses will give appropriate acknowledgment of the source of any reprinted or reproduced material. For other uses of the material, request permission from CRP. NOTICE The report was reviewed by the technical panel and accepted for publication according to procedures established and overseen by the Transportation Research Board and approved by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The opinions and conclusions expressed or implied in this report are those of the researchers who performed the research and are not necessari- ly those of the Transportation Research Board; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; or the program sponsors. The Transportation Research Board; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; and the sponsors of the Transit Cooperative Research Program do not endorse products or manufacturers. Trade or manufacturers’ names appear herein solely because they are considered essential to the object of the report. Published reports of the TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM are available from Transportation Research Board Business Office 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 and can be ordered through the Internet by going to http://www.national-academies.org and then searching for TRB Printed in the United States of America

The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, non- governmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to bring the practices of engineering to advising the nation. Members are elected by their peers for extraordinary contributions to engineering. Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., is president. The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) was established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to advise the nation on medical and health issues. Members are elected by their peers for distinguished contributions to medicine and health. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president. The three Academies work together as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The Academies also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding in matters of science, engineering, and medicine. Learn more about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine at www.national-academies.org. The Transportation Research Board is one of seven major programs of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The mission of the Transportation Research Board is to increase the benefits that transportation contributes to society by providing leadership in transportation innovation and progress through research and information exchange, conducted within a setting that is objective, interdisciplinary, and multimodal. The Board’s varied committees, task forces, and panels annually engage about 7,000 engineers, scientists, and other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the public interest. The program is supported by state transportation departments, federal agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other organizations and individuals interested in the development of transportation. Learn more about the Transportation Research Board at www.TRB.org.

TOPIC PANEl SF-19 RALPH BUEHLER, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Alexandria MICHAEL S. “MIKE” CONNELLY, Chicago Transit Authority LISA DARNALL, Jacksonville Transportation Authority KEN FISCHER, McDonald Transit Associates, Inc., Port Orange, FL STEVEN F. PONTE, Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority, Antioch, CA ED WATT, Amalgamated Transit Union, Washington, DC FAITH HALL, Federal Transit Administration (Liaison) SYNTHESIS STudIES STAFF STEPHEN R. GODWIN, Director for Studies and Special Programs JON M. WILLIAMS, Program Director, IDEA and Synthesis Studies MARIELA GARCIA-COLBERG, Senior Program Officer JO ALLEN GAUSE, Senior Program Officer GAIL R. STABA, Senior Program Officer TANYA M. ZWAHLEN, Consultant DON TIPPMAN, Senior Editor CHERYL KEITH, Senior Program Assistant DEMISHA WILLIAMS, Senior Program Assistant DEBBIE IRVIN, Program Associate COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAMS STAFF CHRISTOPHER J. HEDGES, Director, Cooperative Research Programs LORI L. SUNDSTROM, Deputy Director, Cooperative Research Programs GWEN CHISHOLM SMITH, Senior Program Officer EILEEN P. DELANEY, Director of Publications TCRP COMMITTEE FOR PROjECT j-7 CHAIR BRAD J. MILLER, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, St. Petersburg, FL MEMbERS DONNA DeMARTINO, San Joaquin Regional Transit District, Stockton, CA MICHAEL FORD, The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan, Detroit BOBBY J. GRIFFIN, Griffin and Associates, Flower Mound, TX ROBERT H. IRWIN, Consultant, Sooke, BC, Canada JEANNE KRIEG, Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority, Antioch, CA PAUL J. LARROUSSE, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick DAVID A. LEE, Connecticut Transit, Hartford ELIZABETH PRESUTTI, Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority—DART ROBERT H. PRINCE, JR., AECOM Consulting Transportation Group, Inc., Boston, MA JARRETT STOLTZFUS, Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA FTA lIAISON FAITH HALL Federal Transit Administration TRb lIAISON STEPHEN J. ANDRLE Transportation Research Board Cover photo source: Communitytransit.blogspot.com

FOREWORD This synthesis deals with issues surrounding difficult customers or passengers and the variety of circumstances that can arise when they utilize transit system facilities or vehicles. The report identifies current practices used by transit agencies to prevent, prepare for, and deal with these incidents. Forty-one transit agencies responded to the electronic survey sent to 49 transit agencies, yielding an 84% (41/49) response rate. Detailed case examples of four different systems are included in the report and provide additional insights and complete descriptions of the various programs these representative agencies have instituted. The report also includes a literature review, analysis of survey results, and lessons learned, challenges, and gaps in information. The synthesis will be of interest to transit chief executive officers and all other transit employees involved in customer relations. It will help transit agencies learn from each other about new and more effective practices in handling incidents. Joel M. Volinski, University of South Florida, Tampa, collected and synthesized the infor- mation and wrote the report, under the guidance of a panel of experts in the subject area. The members of the topic panel are acknowledged on the preceding page. This synthesis is an immediately useful document that records the practices that were acceptable within the limitations of the knowledge available at the time of its preparation. As progress in research and practice continues, new knowledge will be added to that now at hand. Transit administrators, engineers, and researchers often face problems for which infor- mation already exists, either in documented form or as undocumented experience and prac- tice. This information may be fragmented, scattered, and unevaluated. As a consequence, full knowledge of what has been learned about a problem may not be brought to bear on its solution. Costly research findings may go unused, valuable experience may be overlooked, and due consideration may not be given to recommended practices for solving or alleviat- ing the problem. There is information on nearly every subject of concern to the transit industry. Much of it derives from research or from the work of practitioners faced with problems in their day-to-day work. To provide a systematic means for assembling and evaluating such useful information and to make it available to the entire transit community, the Transit Cooperative Research Program Oversight and Project Selection (TOPS) Committee autho- rized the Transportation Research Board to undertake a continuing study. This study, TCRP Project J-7, “Synthesis of Information Related to Transit Problems,” searches out and syn- thesizes useful knowledge from all available sources and prepares concise, documented reports on specific topics. Reports from this endeavor constitute a TCRP report series, Synthesis of Transit Practice. This synthesis series reports on current knowledge and practice, in a compact format, with- out the detailed directions usually found in handbooks or design manuals. Each report in the series provides a compendium of the best knowledge available on those measures found to be the most successful in resolving specific problems. PREFACE By Mariela Garcia-Colberg Senior Program Officer Transportation Research Board

CONTENTS 1 SUMMARY 5 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION Project Background, 5 Definition of Difficult Customer Situations, 5 Purpose of Report and Intended Audience, 6 Technical Approach, 6 Organization of This Report, 6 8 CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW Codes of Conduct, Technology and Design Solutions, and Enforcement Practices to Discourage Inappropriate Behavior, 8 Courtesy Campaigns to Discourage Inappropriate Customer Behavior, 10 Dealing with People Who Are Homeless and Customers Who Are Less Aware of Their Unwanted Actions, 13 Training of Frontline Personnel to Address Difficult Customer Situations, 15 Summary of Literature Review, 16 17 CHAPTER THREE SURVEY RESULTS: EXTENT AND NATURE OF THE PROBLEM OF DIFFICULT CUSTOMERS Survey Methodology, 17 Significance of Difficult Customer Situations for Transit Agencies, 20 How Well Do Transit Agencies Track Difficult Customer Situations? 21 Are Incidents of Difficult Customer Situations Increasing? 22 25 CHAPTER FOUR SURVEY RESULTS: HOW TRANSIT AGENCIES ADDRESS DIFFICULT CUSTOMER SITUATIONS Methods to Help Prevent or Minimize Difficult Customer Situations, 25 Providing Training to Prevent or Defuse Difficult Customer Situations, 26 Protective Barriers to Prevent Assaults on Bus Operators, 29 Use of Technology to Discourage and Apprehend Customers Exhibiting Difficult Behavior, 31 Adopting Codes of Conduct to Guide Customer Behavior, 32 Trespass Warrants, 35 Using Contracted Security or Local Police, 36 Transit Agency Responses to Difficult Customer Situations, 36 Dealing with Fare Disputes, 37 Dealing with Customers Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol, 38 Dealing with Customers Who Have Mental Health Issues, 38 Dealing with Customers Who Have Open Wounds, or Offensive Odor or Hygiene, 38 Dealing with Customers Who Are Disruptive, 39 Dealing with Fights and Threatening Behavior, 41

42 CHAPTER FIVE CASE EXAMPLES Long Beach Transit, 42 Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, 47 Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District, 52 Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 57 61 CHAPTER SIX CONCLUSIONS AND AREAS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH Conclusions, 61 Areas for Future Research, 63 65 ACRONYMS 66 REFERENCES 68 APPENDIX A SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE 71 APPENDIX B PARTICIPATING TRANSIT AGENCIES 73 APPENDIX C EXAMPLES OF CODES OF CONDUCT

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TRB's Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Synthesis 127: Addressing Difficult Customer Situations considers issues surrounding difficult customers or passengers and the variety of circumstances that can arise when they utilize transit system facilities or vehicles. The report identifies current practices used by transit agencies to prevent, prepare for, and deal with these incidents.

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