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Customer-Focused Service Guarantees and Transparency Practices A Synthesis of Transit Practice Michael J. Walk Texas A&M Transportation Institute Austin, TX 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 134 2018 Research sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration in cooperation with the Transit Development Corporation Subject Areas Public Transportation â¢ Administration and Management â¢ Data and Information Technology
TCRP SYNTHESIS 134 Project J-7, Topic SB-29 ISSN 1073-4880 ISBN 978-0-309-39019-4 Â© 2018 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 necessarily those of the Transporta- tion 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 manufacturersâ 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 TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM The nationâs growth and the need to meet mobility, environmental, and energy objectives place demands on public transit systems. Cur- rent 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 prob- lems, adapt appropriate new technologies from other industries, and introduce innovations into the transit industry. The Transit Coopera- tive 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 213âResearch for Public Transit: New Directions, published in 1987 and based on a study sponsored by the Urban Mass Transportation Administrationânow 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 Coop- erative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), undertakes research and other technical activities in response to the needs of transit ser- vice 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. Proposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, TCRP was authorized 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 organi- zations: FTA; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, acting through the Transportation Research Board (TRB); and the Transit Development Corporation, Inc. (TDC), a nonprofit educational and research organization established 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 responsibility of the TOPS Committee to formulate the research program by identi- fying 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 disseminat- ing TCRP results to the intended users of the research: transit agen- cies, service providers, and suppliers. TRB provides a series of research reports, syntheses of transit practice, and other supporting material developed by TCRP research. APTA will arrange for workshops, train- ing aids, field visits, and other activities to ensure that results are imple- mented 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.
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 National 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 Boardâs 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.
CRP STAFF FOR TCRP SYNTHESIS 134 Christopher J. Hedges, Director, Cooperative Research Programs Lori L. Sundstrom, Deputy Director, Cooperative Research Programs Gwen Chisholm Smith, Manager, Transit Cooperative Research Program Mariela Garcia-Colberg, Senior Program Officer Demisha Williams, Senior Program Assistant Eileen P. Delaney, Director of Publications Natalie Barnes, Associate Director of Publications TCRP PROJECT J-7 PANEl Brad J. Miller, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, St. Petersburg, FL (Chair) Donna DeMartino, San Joaquin Regional Transit District, Stockton, CA Michael Ford, Camas, WA Bobby J. Griffin, Griffin and Associates, Flower Mound, TX Ronald Kilcoyne, North County Transit District, Oceanside, CA 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 AuthorityâDART Robert H. Prince, Jr., FOOT PRINCE, Boston, MA Jarrett W. Stoltzfus, Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA Faith Hall, FTA Liaison TOPIC SB-29 PANEl Melissa Dullea, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Boston Henning T. Eichler, Southern California Regional Rail Authority, Los Angeles Christopher A. Pangilinan, TransitCenter, New York, NY Alan L. Rao, Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, Cambridge, MA Felipe E. Robles, San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Authority, San Francisco Heather Sobush, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, St. Petersburg, FL Walt Stringer, Consultant, Carlsbad, CA (retired) Melissa Foreman, FTA Liaison Stephen J. Andrle, TRB Liaison 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 S
A growing number of North American public transit agencies have adopted service guarantees and/or transparency practices as part of a customer-focused service strategy. Service guarantees describe the level of service customers can expect and the procedures they may follow if standards are not met. Transparency practices might include reporting performance metrics as online dashboards or report cards on the agencyâs website. Cur- rently, there is little existing research on these practices and experiences among U.S. transit providers. This synthesis study, prepared by Michael J. Walk, Texas A&M Transportation Institute, documents the nature and prevalence of customer-focused practices among transit pro- viders in North America and supplements the discussion by including information from a few European transit providers. A literature review and detailed survey responses of 22 out of 26 transit agencies are provided (an 85% response rate) in the report. An analysis on the state of the practice, emphasizing lessons learned, challenges, and gaps in information, is also provided. Four case examples that describe the customer-focused service strategy in different transit systems were developed. The members of the topic panel are acknowledged on page iv. This synthesis is an imme- diately useful document that records the practices that were acceptable within the limita- tions 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 practice. This information may be fragmented, scattered, and unevaluated. As a conse- quence, 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 alleviating 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 Coopera- tive Research Program Oversight and Project Selection (TOPS) Committee authorized the Transportation Research Board to undertake a continuing study. This study, TCRP Project J-7, âSynthesis of Information Related to Transit Problems,â searches out and synthesizes 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 Tran- sit Practice. This synthesis series reports on current knowledge and practice, in a compact format, without 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 mea- sures found to be the most successful in resolving specific problems. PREFACE By Mariela Garcia-Colberg Staff Officer Transportation Research Board FOREWORD
1 Summary 4 Chapter 1 Introduction 4 Background 4 Objective and Scope 5 Definition of Terms 6 Technical Approach to Project 9 Case Examples 9 Report Organization 10 Chapter 2 Literature Review 10 The Need for Customer-Focused Public Transit 11 Service Guarantees 14 Customer-Focused Transparency 17 Chapter 3 Service Guarantees 17 Types of Service Guarantees 18 Prevalence of Service Guarantees 19 Details of Actions Promised 21 Limitations on Service Guarantees 21 Claims Processing for Action Guarantees 23 Details of Nonaction Guarantees 24 Implementing Service Guarantees 27 Benefits, Challenges, and Lessons Learned 30 Chapter 4 Customer-Focused Transparency 30 Prevalence of Customer-Focused Transparency 32 Publication of Performance 35 Implementing Customer-Focused Transparency 36 Benefits, Challenges, and Lessons Learned 40 Chapter 5 Combined Role of Service Guarantees and Customer-Focused Transparency 42 Chapter 6 Case Examples 42 Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority 47 San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency 52 Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority 61 GO Transit 77 Chapter 7 Conclusions 77 Summary of Findings 80 Future Research 83 References C O N T E N T S
86 Appendix A Survey Instrument 107 Appendix B Survey Respondents 109 Appendix C Metrolink Service Guarantee 113 Appendix D The MBTA Customer Bill of Rights 114 Appendix E GO Train Service Guarantee Policy 116 Appendix F On-Time Service Guarantee Policy for Dayton RTA 117 Appendix G Dayton RTA On-Time Service Guarantee Claim Form 119 Appendix H Guide to Launching a Passenger Charter