National Academies Press: OpenBook

Managing the Transit Scheduling Workforce (2019)

Chapter: Chapter 1 - Introduction

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." 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:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." 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:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." 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:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." 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:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." 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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4 Background Fixed-route transit schedulers, the people who design and produce transit schedules, have an important role in transit—their schedules provide the blueprint for fixed-route transit services. (Note: this synthesis report only discusses fixed-route transit scheduling and uses the term scheduling or transit scheduling to refer only to fixed-route transit scheduling and not to demand-responsive scheduling.) Transit schedules affect transit agency operating and capital costs; customer satisfaction; and operator health, safety, and well-being, making the scheduler a pivotal position. Although it is now common for transit agencies to use scheduling software to support scheduling activities, transit scheduling is still a human process that is labor intensive, detail driven, and ripe with opportunities for errors. Scheduling requires qualified and talented transit schedulers to be done well. However, there are not many resources to help transit agencies effectively manage the transit scheduling workforce. Moreover, the nature of a transit scheduler’s job is evolving as data and scheduling software become increasingly available and robust—making computer and data analysis skills and acumen gradually central to the transit scheduler role. Many questions need to be answered about how transit agencies are evolving their practices for managing transit schedulers and scheduling processes to adapt to these changes. Objective and Scope This synthesis project focused on transit scheduling workforce management practices and procedures at North American transit agencies to: • Provide an overview of the current state of the practice regarding how transit agencies manage the transit scheduling workforce. • Examine transit agency practices for transit scheduler recruiting, selecting, training, retention, and performance management. • Study how transit agencies that use third parties to create schedules manage those third parties. Technical Approach to Study The project team accomplished these objectives by conducting a literature review, a survey of North American transit agencies, and five case examples. These tasks are described here. Literature Review First, the project team conducted a review of relevant literature to identify previous research and resources on fixed-route transit scheduling, transit scheduling workforce management, C H A P T E R 1 Introduction

Introduction 5 general transit workforce management, and advances in data analysis and software for transit scheduling (reviewed literature is listed in the references section of this report). Survey of North American Transit Agencies Second, the project team recruited North American transit agencies to participate in an online survey about their transit scheduling workforce management practices and their scheduling procedures that affect scheduler recruitment, selection, training, and retention. Sixty- two eligible transit agencies that operated fixed-route transit received the survey; 43 complete responses were received. Appendix A includes the complete questionnaire. Appendix B dis- plays the full list of responding transit agencies, their key characteristics, and abbreviations used in this report. Figure 1 provides a map showing the location and type of each responding transit agency. Survey respondents represented a mix of transit agency sizes and operated a variety of modes, including both bus and rail. Table 1 displays the number of transit agencies according to their modes operated and type. Figure 1. Map of transit agencies that responded to the survey. Note: Agency abbreviations are defined in Appendix B.

6 Managing the Transit Scheduling Workforce The survey was divided into several sections, and some sections were only visible to transit agencies based on their answers to earlier questions in the survey. One question in particular had an important role in determining which sections of the survey were presented to transit agencies: “Thinking of all modes your agency provides, indicate who creates transit schedules.” There were four options, and transit agencies could select all that applied: • Transit agency creates schedules. • Service provider creates schedules. • Scheduling firm creates schedules. • Schedules created in some other way. For each option selected by a transit agency, the survey presented a specific survey section, which consisted of one or more pages to collect details about the chosen method of creating transit schedules. Because transit agencies could select more than one option, they may have encountered multiple sections of the survey. Figure 2 is a flow chart summarizing the overall survey design. The survey’s sections can be broadly categorized into two themes: (1) scheduling operations, which focuses on the processes for schedule creation, and (2) scheduling workforce manage- ment, which collects information about how transit agencies that create their own schedules manage the transit scheduling workforce. (Survey results are contained in Chapter 3.) Case Examples After the survey was complete, the project team selected five transit agencies as case examples to provide more in-depth information about transit scheduling workforce management practices. The project team chose case example agencies based on the detail of their survey responses while also providing a variety of agency sizes and geographic locations. Full case example write-ups are included in Chapter 4. Report Organization This report is organized into the following chapters: • Chapter 1: Introduction (this chapter): Introduces the purpose of the study and discusses the methodology. • Chapter 2: Literature Review: Provides an introduction to fixed-route scheduling and important scheduling terms, portrays evidence about the critical role of transit schedulers, discusses evolving practices in transit scheduling, and provides strategies for transit workforce management. Rural or Small Medium Large Urban Urban Urban Bus only 9 8 8 4 29 Rail only 1 1 Both 2 10 1 13 Total 9 8 10 15 1 43 Note: The classifications of rural, tribal, and urban were based on the transit agency’s classification in the National Transit Database (NTD). Classifications of urban size were based on the population of the urbanized area served by the transit agency as reported in the NTD (small: less than 200,000; medium: between 200,000 and 999,999; and large: 1,000,000 or more). In subsequent analyses, unless otherwise specified, the one Canadian respondent, GO Transit in Toronto, Ontario, is classified as a large urban agency. Mode Canadian TotalTribal Table 1. Number of survey respondents by modes operated and agency type.

Introduction 7 Figure 2. Flowchart of the overall survey design.

8 Managing the Transit Scheduling Workforce • Chapter 3: Survey Results: Discusses the survey results, including how transit agencies use data in scheduling, manage the scheduling workforce, and use third parties to create transit schedules. • Chapter 4: Case Examples: Contains the case examples from five transit agencies: – Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority (LANTA). – Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). – Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA). – Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART). – Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD). • Chapter 5: Conclusions and Further Research: Summarizes the results of the synthesis and identifies areas needing additional research.

Next: Chapter 2 - Literature Review »
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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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