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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Managing the Transit Scheduling Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25457.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Managing the Transit Scheduling Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25457.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Managing the Transit Scheduling Workforce. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25457.
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1 Transit schedules provide the blueprint for fixed-route transit—they affect operating and capital costs, safety, customer satisfaction, and operator well-being and health. Although scheduling has moved from a largely paper-based practice to one that now uses purpose- built scheduling software and utilizes data collected from automated systems, transit scheduling is still a human process that is merely assisted by software and data. Knowledge- able people are needed to perform most scheduling tasks, supply direction, and provide quality control. Moreover, the increasing availability and reliance on data and scheduling software are gradually changing the nature of a transit scheduler’s job—making computer and data analysis skills and acumen increasingly central to the transit scheduler role. The scheduling process is labor intensive, detail driven, and ripe with opportunities for errors; to be done well, scheduling requires qualified and talented transit schedulers. However, there are few resources and guides to assist transit agencies in managing the transit scheduling workforce or scheduling processes. Many questions need to be answered about how transit agencies manage transit schedulers and are evolving their practices to adapt to industry and technological changes. This synthesis: • Provides an overview of how transit agencies manage the transit scheduling workforce. • Examines practices for transit scheduler recruiting, selecting, training, retention, and performance management. • Discusses how transit agencies that use third parties (e.g., a service provider or scheduling firm) to create schedules manage those third parties. The project team accomplished these objectives by conducting a literature review, a survey of 43 North American transit agencies, and five case examples. This report contains several main findings based on survey data and information from the case examples. Transit agencies that create their schedules in-house have a wide variety of scheduler counts, job titles, organizational charts, and work distribution methods. Most transit agencies use several sources of data during schedule creation and rely heavily on computer software to assist in schedule creation or data analysis, suggesting that transit scheduling has become a largely data- and computer-based profession. Transit agencies also seek and receive feedback from many parties, requiring schedulers to collect and organize this feedback as well as, in some cases, engage directly with agency staff or members of the public providing feedback. Most transit schedulers are full-time employees, and transit agencies with more vehicles generally have more schedulers. The average number of peak vehicles per scheduler full-time equivalents (FTEs) varies from eight to 141, depending on agency size. (Smaller agencies had lower vehicles per scheduler FTE ratios because, even with a small fleet size, someone S U M M A R Y Managing the Transit Scheduling Workforce

2 Managing the Transit Scheduling Workforce needs to perform scheduling duties.) Median wages are between $31,000 and $51,000 for entry level transit schedulers and between $50,000 and $83,000 for the most senior scheduler in an agency; wages tend to vary with agency size. Transit agencies use a wide variety of recruitment tools (e.g., internal digital job boards, industry periodicals, and so forth) but find tools that publicize job openings inside the tran- sit agency are the most effective for recruiting qualified candidates. This is likely related to the fact that transit agencies tend to prefer hiring internal candidates with knowledge of transit operations and the transit system. Minimum qualifications for new transit schedulers are relatively low in terms of educational requirements, required skills, and years of experience. To select transit schedulers, transit agencies use typical selection tools (e.g., standard applications, tests, and job interviews). In-person job interviews are the most widely used and effective selection tool, and most agencies use a structured interview. Transit agencies generally find it difficult to select the best candidate, because most candidates have little or no prior scheduling experience. Without prior scheduling experience to judge, transit agencies do not have information to predict future success as a scheduler. Once a transit scheduler is hired, transit agencies spend a month or more (often 4 to 6 months) to train new schedulers. In fact, 2 or more years may be required before a transit scheduler reaches full competency. Most transit agencies struggle to find the time and resources to train their transit schedulers to the extent desired, and most transit agencies do not have standard or documented training programs for either new or current transit schedulers. In rare cases, agencies utilize third parties to perform training—especially if the training was specifically related to scheduling software upgrades or changes. Existing training resources (e.g., TCRP Report 30: Transit Scheduling: Basic and Advanced Manuals [Pine et al. 1998] and TCRP Report 135: Controlling System Costs: Basic and Advanced Sched- uling Manuals and Contemporary Issues in Transit Scheduling [Boyle et al. 2009]) appear to be underutilized, and many transit agencies are not aware of them. Given that selecting and training schedulers is a difficult and lengthy process, transit agencies may benefit from having strategies in place to retain good schedulers. However, few transit agencies have retention strategies. Agencies that have retention strategies report that regular wage increases, providing upward mobility, delivering ongoing training, and improving working conditions and culture are somewhat effective at improving scheduler retention. Transit agencies that have regular, ongoing processes for assessing and managing transit scheduler performance reported benefits from those processes. Transit agencies report several different ways to deal with ongoing, recurring performance problems, including mentoring and training, reassignment, and even termination. Some transit agencies use third parties to create transit schedules, and these agencies generally find the use of third parties to be beneficial. However, transit agencies still need to review the created schedules and the schedules’ performance metrics to ensure the third parties’ work meets transit agency expectations and contractual requirements. This study also identified several potential areas for future research. For example, transit agencies need improved tools for selecting the best transit scheduler candidates—perhaps a standardized scheduling test or a set of structured interview questions that are predictors of future job performance. Also, transit agencies routinely struggle with scheduler training— lacking standardized curricula, adequate time, and enough training-capable staff. Research could be conducted to help develop a business case for more training resources, to under- stand the value of training schedulers on scheduling concepts and data analysis, to identify

Summary 3 the most efficient and effective methods for providing training, and to increase the utilization of existing training resources. Research on scheduling management and practices would also be beneficial for agencies of all sizes. For example, rural and small transit agencies often use staff with other duties to create transit schedules. Enhanced toolkits and guides for small transit agencies may help ensure these agencies have high-quality and efficient schedules. Also, updated research is needed to establish the current best practices for applying data sets to the scheduling process and for improving transit schedule accuracy and quality. Last, new mobility options and technology advances are creating significant changes in many transit agencies; research needs to be conducted to better understand the potential implications of new mobility, artificial intelligence, and autonomy on the roles of fixed- route transit scheduling and schedulers.

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TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Synthesis 143: Managing the Transit Scheduling Workforce examines how transit agencies are recruiting, training, developing, and retaining schedulers. In the case where transit agencies use third parties to create schedules, the report also shows how transit systems manage those third parties.

The report is designed to assist transit agencies in managing their transit scheduling human capital. The report presents an overview of the practices and procedures transit agencies use to manage their scheduling workforce and will allow agencies to compare what they are currently doing with what others are doing in this area. The report also analyzes how transit systems are evolving their practices to adapt to industry and technological changes. It provides transit systems with new ideas and strategies to retain good schedulers.

The report also presents a literature review and results of a survey of transit agencies that use transit schedulers in their workforce. Case examples of five transit systems are provided; these present an in-depth analysis of various recruitment, selection, training, retention, and performance management strategies.

Transit schedules provide the blueprint for fixed-route transit—they affect operating and capital costs, safety, customer satisfaction, and operator well-being and health. Although scheduling has moved from a largely paper-based practice to one that now uses purposebuilt scheduling software and utilizes data collected from automated systems, transit scheduling is still a human process that is merely assisted by software and data.

Knowledgeable people are needed to perform most scheduling tasks, supply direction, and provide quality control. Moreover, the increasing availability and reliance on data and scheduling software are gradually changing the nature of a transit scheduler’s job—making computer and data analysis skills and acumen increasingly central to the transit scheduler role.

The scheduling process is labor intensive, detail driven, and ripe with opportunities for errors; to be done well, scheduling requires qualified and talented transit schedulers.

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