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18 This chapter contains the results of the survey. The survey contained many questions, most of which are analyzed and discussed in this chapter; however, some additional tables and figures are available in Appendix C. (Tables or figures in Appendix C are referenced in this chapter and have a C in front of their table or figure numbers, e.g., Table C-1 or Figure C-3.) This chapter is divided into five sections, each related to a specific section of the survey: â¢ Schedule Creation Overview. â¢ Using Data and Software for Scheduling. â¢ Scheduling Workforce Management. â¢ Scheduling Operations When Third Parties Create Transit Schedules. â¢ Summary of Survey Results. Schedule Creation Overview All 43 survey respondents indicated who creates their fixed-route transit schedules (transit agencies could select more than one option; see Table 2). All except five transit agencies create their own transit schedules for at least one of their provided transit services, and a few transit agencies selected more than one option, meaning that multiple methods are in place. Most transit agenciesâ services (61%) are directly operated by the transit agency; however, commuter modes (e.g., commuter bus and commuter rail) show some prevalence to be contracted out (see Table C-1). Using Data and Software for Scheduling As discussed in Chapter 2, an increasing amount of data is available for transit agencies to use during schedule creation; however, as data become more widely used, the nature of the transit scheduling job begins to change. The project team developed a section of the survey to collect information about how transit agencies use data for scheduling and whether the use of data has changed agenciesâ transit scheduler workforce management practices. Sources of Data and Their Use Table 3 displays which sources of data are regularly used during some point in schedule creation and refinement. (Data in the table are based on responses from 42 of the 43 transit agencies because one agency reported not regularly using any of the data sources.) The two most common sources of data are feedback from either operators or customers, used by 91% and 86% of transit agencies, respectively. Data from onboard technology systems are also commonly C H A P T E R 3 Survey Results
Survey Results 19 used: 70% use computer-aided dispatch/automated vehicle location (CAD/AVL) data and 60% use APC data. Thirty-three percent of agencies use data from external sources (e.g., Google Maps or INRIX). Six transit agencies (14%) responded that they use âotherâ data sourcesâwritten-in responses included other software (e.g., Remix and Ridecheck Plus), input from other staff and plans, and daily count sheets (presumably traffic checks). Using data during the schedule creation process was more common among larger agencies; however, several rural and small urban agencies reported using data from several electronic systems as well as using customer and operator feedback. Most (15 of 16) large urban transit agencies use CAD/AVL data, and most (14 of 16) use APCs. Respondents also reported what data sources are used in which steps of the schedule-creation process; results are in Table C-2. The most frequent use of data is to support route studies or service improvements, with operator and customer feedback being the most common source of data during this task. In fact, the most common source of data for all tasks is operator feedback. Apart from operator feedback, the preferred data sources for each scheduling task are listed here: â¢ Establishing running times and layovers: CAD/AVL. â¢ Determining headways: customer feedback. â¢ Determining route patterns or alignments: customer feedback. â¢ Setting blocking and deadheads: CAD/AVL. â¢ Determining vehicle assignments: APCs. Schedule Creation Method Percent of Agencies Count Transit agency creates schedules 88 38 Service provider creates schedules 14 6 Scheduling firm creates schedules 7 3 Schedules created in some other way 7 3 Note: Respondents could select more than one option. Table 2. Survey respondentsâ methods for creating transit schedules. Data Source Rural or Tribal (9) Small Urban (8) Medium Urban (10) Large Urban (16) Total (43) Total % Vehicle operator feedback Customer feedback CAD/AVL APC Customer surveys Farebox External data sources Vehicle operator surveys Others None are regularly used 8 6 9 16 39 91 8 6 8 15 37 86 3 4 8 15 30 70 3 2 7 14 26 60 5 5 7 7 24 56 5 4 6 4 19 44 2 2 4 6 14 33 2 3 2 4 11 26 2 0 0 4 6 14 0 1 0 0 1 2 Note: The number of transit agencies within each agency type is shown inside parentheses in each of the column headings. Canadian respondent data are included in Large Urban. Table 3. Sources of data used for scheduling for different agency types.
20 Managing the Transit Scheduling Workforce According to a few transit agency responses, using data has affected their transit scheduler workforce management practices. For example, the increased use of data has changed the nature of the transit scheduler jobârequiring transit schedulers to be more familiar with data analysis and manipulation. One respondent stated that, historically, planners and analysts did all the data analysis; however, schedulers now interact with data and operator feedback to set deadhead times, routing, and blocking. Overall, many respondents suggested that using data during the scheduling process has helped both improve the efficiency of transit schedules and shorten the time needed to create them. Several transit agencies also indicated that they would like to use more data to improve schedule creation; however, agencies are challenged by a lack of resources (both in staff time and expertise) to properly assess the quality of data and to incorporate more data into the scheduling process. However, not all transit agencies wanted more dataâparticularly because those agencies found it challenging to have enough staff resources for effective data use. Data Preparation and Application to the Scheduling Process Data preparation for use by transit schedulers is handled by many different types of transit agency employees (see Figure C-1). Fifty-eight percent of respondents reported that planning staff prepare data; 45% reported that transit schedulers prepare their own data (agencies could select more than one option). The prevalence of schedulers preparing data for themselves provides additional evidence that the nature of being a transit scheduler is changing. Once data are prepared, someone has to make the final decision about how the data are applied to the transit schedule. Transit agencies reported whether schedulers can make recom- mendations for schedule changes and can take action themselves or whether recommendations or approval comes from others (see Figure C-2). Sixty-six percent of respondents indicated that recommendations from schedulers based on data analyses need upper-level approval; however, a large portion (46%) of respondents allow schedulers to take action based on their own data analysis and recommendations (transit agencies could select more than one response). Software Used for Scheduling As seen in Table 4, respondents mostly used Trapeze, HASTUS, Excel, or other software as their main scheduling software. Other scheduling software used included Remix, Syncromatics, Software Rural or Tribal Small Urban Medium Urban Large Urban Grand Total Trapeze 2 3 6 11 HASTUS 1 8 9 Microsoft Excel or similar spreadsheet software 3 4 2 9 RouteMatch 2 1 3 Tripsparka 2 2 Others 3 4 2 9 No software is used 2 1 3 Note: Respondents could select more than one option. Data are based on 38 transit agencies that create their own schedules. Canadian respondent data are included in Large Urban. aTripspark is an operating division of Trapeze Group but is a different software platform than Trapeze. Table 4. Main software used by transit schedulers during schedule creation.
Survey Results 21 Sched21, Shah Software, Streets, and Geofocus. Three agencies reported not using any software, including one tribal, one rural, and one medium urban system. Transit agencies also use non-scheduling software to support the scheduling processâmostly Excel or a similar spreadsheet-based software (see Figure C-3). However, 14 transit agencies (39% of the 36 responses) stated they do not use any other software. Some transit agencies listed other software used, including ETA Spot, Remix, Ridecheck Plus, and Google Maps. Transit agencies described how using software has affected transit scheduler workforce management. Respondents stated that more sophisticated scheduling tools and software require additional scheduler skills. Some respondents stated that computer skills and analytical skills are becoming more important and that a personâs ability to learn new software (specifically scheduling software) is increasingly critical in determining scheduler success. Scheduling Workforce Management This section of Chapter 3 discusses the transit scheduler workforce management practices of the 38 surveyed transit agencies that produce their schedules in-house. (Note: This chapter will use the term scheduling department to refer to the collection of employees who are mainly responsible for creating transit schedules. This may represent several employees or one employee, as is often the case in rural and smaller systems.) Organization and Labor There is no standard location or level in a transit agencyâs organizational chart that is neces- sarily the best for a scheduling department to reside; however, most scheduling departments (73%) are in either the operations or the planning divisions (see Figure 4). Six agencies (16%) listed other divisions, for example, transit or transportation departments of a municipality or another governmental entity. There was even one case in which the operations manager created the schedules. Transit agencies indicated at which level in the organization scheduling was performed by inputting a number to represent the layer of management in which the scheduling department Operations 39% Planning 34% Other 16% Administration 5% Finance 3% Reports to chief executive 3% Figure 4. Distribution of organizational divisions housing scheduling departments.
22 Managing the Transit Scheduling Workforce resides. Level 1 indicates that the scheduling department is located in the same level as the transit agencyâs chief executive. Level 6 indicates that five managers are between the scheduling depart- ment and the chief executive. Most scheduling departments are in levels 3 and 4, suggesting that usually several layers of management are between scheduling and the chief executive. Thirty-eight agencies reported whether or not transit schedulers are members of a union; 32 agencies (84%) answered that schedulers are not part of a union, and five agencies (13%) answered that all schedulers are part of a union. One agency answered that less than one-fourth of transit schedulers were part of a union. The Amalgamated Transit Union is the most fre- quent union, representing schedulers at five transit agencies. The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees and another local municipal union both represent schedulers at one transit agency. Transit agencies have varying numbers of schedulers in different position types, including full time, part time, apprenticeships or interns, and temporary full time and part time. Three transit agencies reported having no schedulers, because scheduling duties are performed by managers or other types of positions. The number of schedulers varies widely across agencies, so the project team calculated the average number, median number, lowest number, and highest number reported for all position types. The project team also calculated the total full-time equivalents (FTEs), assuming that all non-full-time staff types were equivalent to 0.5 FTEs. Last, the project team calculated the ratio of peak fixed-route vehicles to scheduling FTEs to represent the relationship between agency size and the number of schedulers (see Table 5). Transit agencies that reported having full-time schedulers have between one and 13 schedulers. Few agencies reported part-time, apprentice or intern, or temporary scheduler positions. The three transit agencies that reported having apprentice or intern or temporary schedulers were asked to describe their use of these types of staff. Two agencies described bringing in bus operators or planners into scheduling temporarily to learn the scheduling role and to assist where needed. Another agency responded that it has a 4-month college co-op program that enables the agency to recruit individuals who grasp the processes of scheduling and planning well. The average number of peak vehicles per FTE scheduler is 73.6, based on the responses from 34 transit agencies. Most transit agencies have relatively low ratios (50 vehicles or fewer per scheduler)âlikely a result of having only a few larger agencies as survey respondents. Table 6 displays the number of vehicles per FTE scheduler across agency types. Large agencies usually have more vehicles per FTE scheduler. Statistic Full Time Part Time Apprentice/Intern Temporary Total FTEs Peak Vehicles per FTEa Average number 3.5 2.3 1 1 3.6 73.6 Median number 2 2 1 1 2 37.3 Lowest number 1 1 1 1 1 1.1 Highest number 13 5 1 1 13 456 Note: Three transit agencies in which scheduling duties are performed by managers or other positions reported having no schedulers. The number of agencies with a given position type varies: 32 agencies have full-time schedulers, six agencies have part-time schedulers, three agencies have apprentice or intern schedulers, and three agencies have temporary schedulers. aBased on 34 transit agencies that reported their scheduling staff counts in the survey and that reported peak vehicles to the National Transit Database (NTD). Table 5. Number of transit schedulers in different position types.
Survey Results 23 Transit agencies also indicated whether their transit schedulers are also their transit planners. Although 58% of respondents (22 of 38) stated their schedulers are not also their planners, 42% reported having planner-schedulers. This type of scheduler role is present across all agency sizes and types and is not limited to only smaller agencies. Transit agencies reported the job titles used for transit schedulers and indicated the ordering of job titles based on level of responsibility and experience. Transit agencies reported several different types of job titles. Some common titles include Schedule Analyst, Schedule Maker, Scheduler, and Service Planner. It was also common for smaller agencies to report only one or two job titles, with at least one being an upper-level agency manger (e.g., Operations Manager). In smaller agencies, scheduling duties are often assigned as an additional role to a manager with broad responsibilities beyond scheduling. The number of transit scheduler job titles in the scheduling department can indicate whether there are opportunities for upward mobility and whether specific scheduling duties are assigned to certain types of employees. It was common for agencies to have multiple job titles: 14 agencies (37%) had two job titles and 14 agencies had three or more. Twenty-six percent of respondents (10 of 38) had one job title. (The number of job titles reported can be seen in Figure C-5). Different job titles usually indicate differences in payâespecially differences between the entry-level and higher positions. Thirty-six transit agencies provided starting salaries and maximum salaries for schedulers. Salaries vary across agency types (see Table 7). Larger agencies generally have higher salaries. Processes for Obtaining and Using Feedback for Scheduling Another focus of this study was how scheduling departments obtain and use feedback from others during schedule creation. This feedback could come from many different sourcesâboth Small Urban Medium Urban Large Urban Statistic Starting Wage Maximum Wage Starting Wage Maximum Wage Starting Wage Maximum Wage Average $39,569 $59,137 $39,002 $58,816 $50,561 $83,251 Median $31,200 $50,297 $38,688 $58,000 $50,700 $83,000 Lowest value $18,720 $22,880 $24,960 $31,200 $33,500 $60,590 Highest value $69,000 $105,600 $56,000 $84,000 $65,000 $117,000a Note: Canadian respondent data are included in Large Urban and wages were converted to U.S. dollars. aThe $117,000 maximum wage excluded an outlier salary for an upper-level management employee who performed scheduling work. Table 7. Annual starting and maximum transit scheduler wages. Table 6. Peak vehicles per FTE by agency type. Statistic Rural or Tribal Small Urban Medium Urban Large Urban Lowest number 1.1 3.0 1.8 11 Highest number 16 59 84.5 456 Average number 8.3 23.9 41.7 141 Note: Based on 34 transit agencies that reported their scheduling staff counts in the survey and that reported peak vehicles to NTD.
24 Managing the Transit Scheduling Workforce inside and outside the transit agency. How transit agencies obtain and use feedback can have an impact on the job requirements of transit schedulersâparticularly if schedulers are encouraged to interact directly with operators, supervisors, or members of the public or expected to record, sort, and synthesize feedback. One common source of input for scheduling is a transit agencyâs planning department. Transit agencies reported whether information and feedback are exchanged between their scheduling and planning departments. Out of 22 responses, 60% of transit agencies reported that their schedulers provide regular input to route planning and 32% responded that schedulers only provide route planning input when asked. No transit agencies responded that schedulers never or rarely provide input. Conversely, out of 21 responses, 71% of transit agencies reported that planners regularly provide feedback to scheduling and 10% responded that planners only provide scheduling input when asked. Nineteen percent of agencies (4 of 21) reported that planners never or rarely provide input to scheduling. In addition to planners, many other transit agency departments or other groups may provide feedback into the scheduling process (see Figure C-6). Responses from 38 transit agencies indicated that the most common departments or groups that provide feedback during schedule creation are from transit agency operationsâparticularly operations management (92%), supervisors (84%), and operators (82%). Notably, members of the public also provide feedback for half of the responding agencies. Feedback from these departments or other groups could come directly to schedulers or be received by managers and then passed on to schedulers (i.e., indirectly). Out of 36 responses, most (31 or 86%) reported that transit schedulers receive feedback both directly and indirectly; 8% reported that schedulers receive feedback directly, and 6% reported that feedback is received indirectly. Last, transit schedulers may be expected to directly discuss scheduling issues with transit agency staff or the public (see Table C-3). Results from 37 responses indicate that transit schedulers are more often expected to directly discuss scheduling issues with transit agency staff (89% were expected to have direct discussions at least some of the time) and less often expected to have direct discussions with the public (68% were expected to have direct discussions at least some of the time). This direct discussion with transit agency staff and members of the public may be an important consideration when hiring transit schedulers. Recruitment Recruiting is the process of advertising job openings through collecting applications from interested candidates. Transit agencies that manage their own schedulers responded to survey questions about their recruitment practices. Transit Scheduler Hiring Pool New schedulers could come from either inside or outside the transit agency, with both applicant pools having advantages and disadvantages. Transit agencies are most likely to hire new transit schedulers from inside the agency (19 of 36, or 53%); only seven agencies responded that candidates are typically hired from outside the transit agency. The remaining 10 agencies responded that they hire an equal mix of internal and external candidates (see Figure C-7). Transit agencies that indicated new schedulers tend to come from inside the agency or both inside and outside identified the typical departments or positions that new schedulers previously
Survey Results 25 held within the transit agency (see Figure C-8). The most common responses were that new schedulers previously were operators (16 of 25 respondents, or 64%), operations managers (48%), or dispatchers or control room personnel (36%). (Respondents could select more than one option.) Transit agencies that indicated new schedulers tend to come from outside the agency or both inside and outside identified the typical industries or occupations that new schedulers previously worked in before becoming a transit scheduler (see Figure C-9). The most common responses were that new schedulers were previously employees at other transit agencies: either in scheduling (11 of 17, or 65%), operations (59%), or planning (41%). The next common response was that new schedulers recently graduated from either graduate (29%) or under- graduate programs (29%). Transit agencies indicated whether they have any strategies to encourage people outside the agency in certain industries or occupations to become transit schedulers (see Figure C-10). Most agencies (31 of 38) do not have a strategy; however, the most common targeted industries or occupations for which the seven remaining agencies do have a strategy include transit operations, transit planning, and undergraduate programs. It was more common for transit agencies to have strategies to encourage internal staff to become transit schedulers (see Figure C-11). Twelve transit agencies reported strategies (26 did not). The most common positions that are encouraged to become transit schedulers are operators, dispatch or control room personnel, and operations management (each with five of 12 responses, or 42%). Preparing Candidates for Applying Transit agencies were also asked whether they provide any form of guidance or assistance to individuals interested in applying to be a transit scheduler. Providing guidance or assistance in a standardized way may help increase the potential applicant pool and give scheduler applicants more information to better understand whether they would perform well on the job before applying. Six agencies out of 38 responses (16%) provide some form of information or guidance to help interested individuals. Three agencies provide at least one TCRP report on scheduling or transit service concepts, and two provide opportunities for internships or job shadowing. One agency indicated that it gave an informational presentation. Recruitment Methods and Minimum Qualifications Transit agencies have many tools at their disposal to advertise transit scheduler job openings. Transit agencies were presented with a list of possible recruitment tools; the agencies rated each tool based on its effectiveness for recruiting good new scheduler candidates (see Table C-4). Out of 38 responses, the two most commonly used recruitment tools are digital internal job boards or newsletters and transit agenciesâ websites, used by 26 agencies. The recruiting tools that are rated as the most effective by those who use them are transit industry periodicals and websites (used by 22 agencies with nine agencies rating them as extremely effective) and postings on transit agenciesâ websites (used by 26 agencies with five agencies rating them as extremely effective). When posting transit scheduler jobs, transit agencies can specify educational requirements and desired or required knowledge, skills, and abilities to help fine-tune the applicant pool and increase the quality of applicants. Transit agencies identified their minimum and preferred educational qualifications (see Table C-5). The most common minimum educational qualification for new schedulers is a high school diploma or GED (required by 21 agencies or 55%), although 11 agencies require an undergraduate degree. An undergraduate degree is the most frequently preferred (not required) educational qualification.
26 Managing the Transit Scheduling Workforce Transit agencies also reported what experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities are required for new transit schedulers (see Table C-6). The most common three minimum qualifications (required by 25 agencies) are Microsoft Excel (or similar software) skills, verbal communica- tion skills, and written communication skills. Additional highly ranked minimum qualifications included knowledge of Microsoft Word (22 agencies), organizational skills (20 agencies), and experience in transit and data analysis skills (both required by 19 agencies). Although experience in transit scheduling and knowledge of scheduling software are commonly preferred qualifica- tions, this experience is difficult to find in candidates, and so is not often listed as a minimum requirement. Selection Selection is the process of narrowing down the applicant pool to the final candidate(s) to whom a transit agency will offer the job. The 38 transit agencies that manage their own transit schedulers responded to survey questions about their selection practices. Selection Methods and Tools Transit agencies have many tools at their disposal to select applicants to fill transit scheduler job openings. Transit agencies were provided with a list of selection tools (e.g., interviews and tests); the agencies rated the effectiveness of each tool for selecting high-quality transit schedulers (see Table C-7). The most commonly used and most effective tool is an in-person interview, used by 33 of 38 agencies (85%). In-person interviews were rated as either somewhat or extremely effective by 31 of the 33 agencies that use them (94%). Of the 33 transit agencies that use in-person interviews, 30 (91%) use a structured interview. However, many other tools are commonly used by transit agencies, each with varying levels of perceived effectiveness. One tool that is used less often but was rated as highly effective is evaluating performance during sched- uling internships or apprenticeships; 18 of the 19 agencies that use this selection tool rated it as somewhat or extremely effective. Standard tests are used by 23 agencies and were rated as either somewhat or extremely effec- tive by 16 agencies (70%). Based on 22 responses (one agency that used standardized tests did not respond) tests were usually developed by the transit agencies themselves; 19 of 22 (86%) of respondents indicated that their test was developed by either transit agency scheduling or management staff or transit agency human resources staff. Two agencies (9%) reported having the test developed by a third party. The tests measure several different skills (see Figure C-12); out of 21 responses, the most common skill measured by tests is general computer skills, which was measured in 13 (62%) transit agenciesâ standard tests. It is also common for tests to measure general knowledge, personality, or intelligence (57%), and software skills (52%). Selection Challenges and Lessons Learned Transit agencies provided several challenges and lessons learned regarding transit scheduler selection; a few are highlighted here: â¢ Finding qualified people with transit or transit scheduling experience is difficult. â¢ Relatively low wages make it challenging to attract talented candidates. â¢ Candidates who are strong in computer and analytical skills can be taught the business of and software for scheduling. â¢ Succession planning is important; hiring entry level or intern schedulers before a full-time experienced scheduler leaves can help keep the schedule production cycle going smoothly.
Survey Results 27 Training Once hired, new transit schedulers often do not have the knowledge or skills to succeed as a transit scheduler without significant training on both scheduling concepts and scheduling software. Even transit schedulers with a few years of experience may need ongoing training to continually develop their expertise. This section of the report discusses the results of the parts of the survey that assess transit agenciesâ activities to train new and current schedulers. Training Methods Transit agencies were presented with a list of different training methods and indicated whether they use the training method for new schedulers and how effective the training is, if used (see Table C-8). The most commonly used and most effective training method for new schedulers is on-site one-on-one training led by experienced scheduling staff: 33 of 38 respondents (87%) use one-on-one training, and 31 of the 33 respondents (94%) rate one-on-one training as either somewhat or extremely effective. The second-most-used training type is self-directed individual training (used by 23 transit agencies [61%]), which is also seen as relatively effectiveâ18 agencies (78%) rated this form of training as either somewhat or extremely effective. Classroom-style training is much less common, but is rated as generally effective. Most new-hire training is performed by lead or senior transit schedulers or other staff in the scheduling department, including management and schedulers in the same job or classification (see Figure C-13). Most current scheduler training was performed by lead or senior transit schedulers as well as department management (Figure C-14); however, 10 agencies (16%) reported that no in-house staff provide ongoing training. Most transit agencies (24, or 63%) have not hired a third party to provide scheduling training within the last 5 years. Training Programs TCRP Report 30 and TCRP Report 135 appear to be underutilized by transit agencies conducting new-hire and current scheduler training. For new-hire training, 23 of 37 agencies (62%) do not use the reports; 16 (or 73%) were not aware of the reports, and the remaining agencies indicated that the reportsâ contents are too general or that training new schedulers on scheduling software has a higher priority than the scheduling concepts covered in the reports. For current scheduler training, 24 of 38 transit agencies (63%) do not use either report, mostly because agencies did not know these reports existed (16 of 23 responses, or 70%). Six agencies (26%) prefer to focus training on the scheduling software, and two agencies find the contents of the reports too general. Most agencies (22, or 58%) stated they do not have a documented or standardized training program for new schedulers (see Figure C-15). Nine agencies have standard training, but two of the nine stated that their training is outdated or not regularly used. Currently, seven transit agencies (18%) are developing a standardized training program for new schedulers. For the nine transit agencies with standard new-hire training programs, all created their training programs in-house using either agency scheduling or training staff; no training programs were developed by third parties. Seven out of 37 agencies have some form of documented or standard training program for current transit schedulers, although only five of these programs were up-to-date and regularly used. These programs were mostly developed by transit agency employeesâeither scheduling or training staff. Even without standard or documented training programs at most transit agencies, respondents were able to identify the specific scheduling topics on which new and current transit schedulers
28 Managing the Transit Scheduling Workforce received training. Transit agencies were presented with a list of scheduling topics and asked to rank in order of importance those topics that were normally a part of training. Results for new-hire training are shown in Table 8, and results for current scheduler training are shown in Table 9. As can be seen in Table 8, new-hire training may include a wide variety of topics, with basic scheduling concepts, transit system design, running times, scheduling software, and trip building making up the top five most important topics for new schedulers. As can be seen in Table 9, the ongoing training for current schedulers includes a wide variety of topics, including transit system design, local geography, trip building, scheduling terms, and intermediate scheduling software skills. The more complex skills (e.g., runcutting and schedule metrics) are rarely covered or are deemed as unimportant when compared with the other topics in the list. Transit agencies reported whether they are using any training specifically designed to improve current transit schedulersâ abilities to analyze and use data. Most agencies (30 of 37, or 81%) have no specific data analysis training in place. However, the seven agencies that do have data analysis training briefly described the nature of this training. A majority of the open-ended responses described the transit agency utilizing third-party trainers (e.g., CUTA, Avail, Trapeze, TransTrack, or HASTUS) to train staff on data analysis tools or techniques. Training Duration New-hire training typically takes between several weeks and several months before a transit scheduler can begin working on a production schedule (see Figure 5), with five agencies (14%) responding that training takes at least 6 months. In addition to reporting the duration of new-hire training, transit agencies estimated the typical number of years it takes for a transit scheduler to reach full competency (see Figure 6). The most common responses were 2 or 3 years (selected by 18 of 34 respondents, or 53%). Overall Rank Item 1 Scheduling terminology and vocabulary 2 Transit system design (routes and services) 3 Setting running times 4 Scheduling software basics 5 Trip building 6 Local geography 7 Operator or union work rules 8 Vehicle types and operations rules 9 Blocking 10 Scheduling software intermediate skills 11 Setting headways 12 Service data collection and analysis 13 Setting layovers 14 Setting deadhead times 15 Schedule optimization 16 Garage assignment 17 Runcutting 18 Rostering 19 Schedule metrics (e.g., pay-to-platform ratio) 20 Scheduling software advanced skills Note: A topicâs ranking is based on the combined score of how often the topic was selected by transit agencies and what rank the topic was given when selected. Table 8. Ranking of topics included in transit scheduler new-hire training within the first year of employment.
Survey Results 29 Overall Rank Item 1 Transit system design (routes and services) 2 Local geography 3 Trip building 4 Scheduling terminology and vocabulary 5 Scheduling software intermediate skills 6 Service data collection and analysis 7 Setting running times 8 Schedule optimization 9 Scheduling software advanced skills 10 Blocking 11 Scheduling software basics 12 Vehicle types and operations rules 13 Setting headways 14 Operator or union work rules 15 Setting deadhead times 16 Setting layovers 17 Runcutting 18 Rostering 19 Garage assignment 20 Schedule metrics (e.g., pay-to-platform ratio) Note: A topicâs ranking is based on the combined score of how often the topic was selected by transit agencies and what rank the topic was given when selected. Table 9. Ranking of topics included in ongoing training for current transit schedulers. 4 weeks or less 36% 1 to 6 months 50% More than 6 months 14% Figure 5. Length of training time before a new hire begins working on a production schedule period. 1 2 7 4 9 9 2 0 2 4 6 8 10 11+ 6â10 5 4 3 2 1 Number of Responses Y ea rs Figure 6. Number of years needed for a transit scheduler to reach full competency.
30 Managing the Transit Scheduling Workforce A substantial portion of transit agencies responded that reaching full competency typically takes 5 or more years (10 respondents, or 29%). The number of years required to reach full competency varied across agency types, with generally all agency types requiring 3 or more years to reach full competency and with generally larger agencies requiring more time (see Table 10). Training Challenges and Lessons Learned Transit agencies reported their biggest challenges or lessons learned regarding training newly hired schedulers; highlights of their responses include the following: â¢ Finding time to meet schedule creation timelines and provide training is difficult. â¢ Learning the scheduling software can take a lot of time and effortâin many cases the software is different from other computer programs. â¢ There are many nuances and complexities in transit schedulesâlearning how to detect and troubleshoot problems is challenging for new schedulers. â¢ Having a standardized training program would be beneficial; however, many agencies have neither a standard program nor the time to make one. Transit agencies also reported their biggest challenges or lessons learned regarding training current schedulers; highlights of their responses include the following: â¢ Time and resources are limited, so providing ongoing training is often neglected. â¢ Software changes and upgrades continually require retraining. â¢ Training schedulers on more complex analysis is challengingâschedulers do not always have pre-existing data analysis skills. Retention As previously discussed, transit agencies find it difficult to recruit, select, and train schedulers. In addition, training takes a long time, and schedulers do not reach full competency for several years. It is a big investment to hire and train a new scheduler, so it becomes increasingly impor- tant to retain good employees. Transit agencies answered several questions relating to the retention of transit schedulers. Agencies have hired an average of 2.7 schedulers over the past 5 years. When asked how many schedulers have retired in the past 5 years, a majority of agencies responded ânone.â However, 13 agencies reported at least one scheduler retiring in the last 5 years, with two agencies reporting five schedulers retiring. Twelve transit agencies (34% of 35 respondents) reported having at least one scheduler currently eligible to retire. Agencies reported that current transit schedulers have an average of 9.3 years of service as agency schedulers and an average agency tenure of 11.6 years. Typically, schedulers work at an agency for about 5.2 years before becoming schedulers and stay in their scheduling jobs about 13 years before either retiring or leaving the agency. Table 10. Number of years required for a transit scheduler to reach full competency. Statistic Rural or Tribal Small Urban Medium Urban Large Urban Grand Total Average years 3.9 1.5 3.3 5.0 4.0 Number of responses 7 4 8 15 34 Note: The Canadian response is included in Large Urban.
Survey Results 31 A majority of agencies responded that they do not currently have specific practices to help manage and improve transit scheduler retention. Only four out of 36 agencies (11%) have practices in place to improve retention rates, and the most effective are regular wage increases, ongoing training and professional development, and continually improving the working environment. In SEPTAâs case example, there is additional discussion of its retention strategiesâspecifically its method of providing upward mobility for schedulers. Because SEPTA has three levels of scheduler positions, high-performing employees have a better opportunity to receive promotions and gain more responsibility. Other case example agencies (e.g., OCTA, DART, and RTD) also provided opportunities for upward mobility. The biggest challenges for retaining transit schedulers (based on open-ended responses) are maintaining competitive wages, providing opportunities for advancement, and maintaining employee interest and commitment to the job. Twenty-one transit agencies (60% of 35 respon- dents) stated either that their scheduler wages are not competitive with other similar transit agencies or that the agency does not know if the wages are competitive. Managing Transit Scheduler Performance One way to keep the scheduling job interesting and to help schedulers continually improve is to enact a performance management process. In addition to providing training, transit agencies may choose to enact strategies to help manage individual scheduler performance. These performance management practices may help monitor a schedulerâs quality of work, provide incentives to increase in ability or responsibility, and overall help maintain and improve transit schedules. Performance Management Strategies Transit agencies reported what strategies are in place to help manage and improve a schedulerâs performance (see Figure C-16). Although five agencies reported that no strategies are used; many transit agencies reported a wide variety of strategies. The most common strategies are tracking schedule mistakes and corrective actions (used by 22 agencies); seeking satisfaction feed- back from schedule users (e.g., operators and supervisors, used by 20 agencies); and reviewing various schedule metrics like total costs, vehicles, or operator requirements (used by 19 agencies) as well as service performance metrics (e.g., on-time performance [OTP], used by 17 agencies). Financial incentives are only used by four agencies, and providing recognition and taking disciplinary measures are used by 10 agencies. The 12 transit agencies that measure schedule performance metrics identified which schedule metrics are typically tracked as a part of the performance management process (see Figure C-17). Pay-to-platform ratios are the most common metric (used by eight agencies). The 17 transit agencies that measure service performance metrics identified which service metrics are typically tracked as part of the performance management process (see Figure C-18). Most agencies (14 of 17, or 82%) use OTP or a similar reliability metric to measure scheduler performance. Managing individual transit scheduler performance can be difficult, because several different people often contribute to a final transit schedule. One way to handle this challenge is to assign an individual person ownership of a certain group of work (e.g., a single garage, day type, or set of routes). In this way, the responsibility for the quality of that group of work falls on a single individual, allowing performance to be assessed. Transit agencies reported whether their transit schedulers are assigned specific divisions, services, routes, or other groups of scheduling work to perform. Eight of 36 agencies (22%) have every scheduler complete a specific group of work, and seven agencies (19%) have some
32 Managing the Transit Scheduling Workforce schedulers with specific scheduling work while other schedulers shared responsibilities. At 21 of 36 agencies (58%), all work was shared among all transit schedulers. Of the 15 agencies that assigned groups of work to specific schedulers, eight responded that the practice was somewhat effective and five responded that it was extremely effective. Transit agencies described how an individual schedulerâs work is evaluated to see if the work is optimal (i.e., the transit scheduler has done the best work possible); highlights include the following: â¢ Many agencies discussed having schedules reviewed by management or senior schedulers to evaluate headways, layovers, blocking, and so forth. The senior personâs expertise is ultimately used as the gold standard against which to evaluate an individualâs work product. â¢ Several agencies reported comparing schedule metrics (e.g., pay-to-platform ratios, total costs, and operator requirements) against previously produced schedules. â¢ Less frequently, agencies discussed using external data (e.g., OTP, ridership, and customer complaints) to evaluate a schedulerâs performance. â¢ A few agencies highlighted the fact that evaluating whether a schedulerâs performance is âoptimalâ is rather difficult given that there are usually multiple possible schedules, and the most optimal (most efficient and most reliable) schedule may take more effort and time than are available to schedulers. Correcting Performance Problems Transit agencies also described how they handle and correct ongoing, repeat performance problems. Some highlights include: â¢ Meeting with the employee, documenting performance issues, and setting up specific plans to improve performance. â¢ Providing remedial or refresher training. â¢ Giving more hands-on management or mentoring to help the employee succeed. â¢ Eventual termination or reassignment, if necessary. Last, transit agencies described what action would be taken if an employeeâs repeat perfor- mance problem could not be corrected. Over half of the agencies (19) stated that they would terminate the scheduler if performance did not improve. Thirteen agencies responded that more corrective training would occur and four stated that the scheduler would be transferred to another agency position. Performance Management Benefits, Challenges, and Lessons Learned Transit agencies were asked about the challenges, lessons learned, and benefits of managing individual transit schedulersâ performance. Although answers varied greatly across survey respondents, a few themes emerged. A few transit agencies stated the benefit of having standard performance management practices is that the practices help ensure each scheduler is treated fairly and given the opportunities to succeed. Some agencies also reported that they rarely have performance issues. Many transit agencies described challenges associated with managing performance. In par- ticular, transit agencies were challenged by a lack of standardized practices, not enough time to provide training, and restrictions on personnel actions due to civil service or union rules. Last, transit agencies reported a few lessons learned: â¢ Creating standardized procedures, checklists, and guides helps performance management. â¢ Sometimes a person is not the best fit to be a scheduler; in that case, finding an alternative assignment within the transit agency was helpful to both the employee and the scheduling department.
Survey Results 33 â¢ Having conversations about performance early and often helps ensure the scheduler is aware of performance issues and expectations for change. These conversations can help correct issues and can also provide the case for dismissing the employee if performance does not improve. Scheduling Operations When Third Parties Create Transit Schedules Eight transit agencies (19%) indicated that a third party (either a service provider or scheduling firm) creates at least a portion of the agenciesâ schedules. This section of the report discusses the responses to survey questions about how third parties create transit schedules. (However, one of the six respondents that use a service provider did not answer the related survey questions, so in questions about using service providers, there are only five responses or fewer.) Due to the simi- larities in the survey questions about service providers and scheduling firms creating schedules, this section analyzes both types of third parties concurrently. Creating Schedules Using a Third Party Most respondents have been using a third party to create transit schedules for 5 or more years, and three of the five transit agencies that use a service provider to create schedules included a schedule creation requirement in their request for proposals (RFP) to operate the transit service. Most often (four of seven agencies that responded), transit agencies using third parties to create schedules do so because they have limited capacity or expertise in their transit schedulers. A few agencies provided other reasons for using third parties: one agency uses a scheduling firm because its service provider does not have a compatible software export to the transit agencyâs other system exports such as GTFS, AVL, and APC systems. Other agencies indicated that their service providers are responsible for rostering. All transit agencies using third parties reported those companies are responsible for rostering. Five of seven agencies using service providers and all three agencies using scheduling firms have those companies performing runcutting. Significantly fewer transit agencies use third parties in earlier scheduling steps (e.g., data collection, trip building, and blocking). Respondents stated that service providers usually create schedules for every schedule change; scheduling firms and service providers are also used on an as-needed basis. Reviewing Schedules Created by Third Parties Although third parties had a role in creating transit schedules, transit agencies always reviewed at least some components of those schedules. The most commonly reviewed schedule components are running times, headways, and service spans; however, all components had a high frequency of review across both third-party types. Rosters are the least frequently reviewed when created by service providers (reviewed by only one out of five transit agencies using service providers to create schedules). Transit agencies use a variety of internal staff to review third-party-created schedules, including staff from operations, planning, scheduling, and administration and finance. At two transit agencies, a transit agency oversight body or board is involved in the review process, and at one transit agency, an additional firm hired by the transit agency reviews the schedules. During the review process, transit agencies have several options for assessing the quality of transit schedules or to evaluate whether the created schedules meet the transit agenciesâ needs. Transit agencies most commonly review platform and revenue hours and miles and peak vehicle
34 Managing the Transit Scheduling Workforce requirements when checking created schedules; however, agencies reported examining a wide variety of other metrics during the review process. However, although transit agencies have processes in place to review created transit schedules, most agencies (four of six responses) reported that the RFP used to procure scheduling services from a third party did not have any specific requirements regarding the efficiency or quality of transit schedules. Third-Party Benefits, Challenges, and Lessons Learned Transit agencies that use third parties to create schedules described the benefits, challenges, and lessons learned regarding using third parties. It should be noted that the benefits, challenges, and lessons learned as reported by the responding transit agencies are largely driven by the provisions in the contract with the third party and may not generalize to all transit agencies and potential contractual relationships. Transit agencies that reported benefits stated that service providers have a better under- standing of day-to-day operations, so having the service providers create the schedules gave the providers more control over their operational success. In addition, having service providers create transit schedules for the service they are providing gives the provider direct control over costs and staffing. Two transit agencies reported benefits of using a scheduling firm. One agency stated that the scheduling firm helped it better integrate multiple modes from different transit providers, and one agency stated that the scheduling firm is an excellent resource when there are more changes than agency staff can handle. A few agencies also reported challenges and lessons learned. Although the answers were varied, some highlights include: â¢ Service provider and transit agency interests do not always align, creating disagreements about scheduling policy and creation. â¢ Ensuring that all necessary parties are aware of when schedule changes are made can be difficult. â¢ When a transit agency alters a schedule change request that was previously communicated to a scheduling firm, the alteration can be difficult to communicate effectively to the scheduling firm and can require the firm to rework schedules already in progress or that were already completed. Summary of Survey Results Thirty-eight of the 43 transit agencies that responded to the survey produce transit schedules in-house, and eight transit agencies use third parties to produce their schedules (some agencies use more than one method). Most transit agencies reported using data during the schedule creation process, regardless of whether the schedules are produced in-house or by a third party. Although qualitative data (e.g., feedback from operators and customers) are the most common sources of data, data from APC and CAD/AVL systems are also commonly used. Transit agencies that create their schedules in-house often give some level of responsibility to transit schedulers to manipulate data, analyze data, or apply analysis results when making schedule changes; however, planning staff are the most likely personnel preparing data for schedulers to use. Most transit agencies that create their schedules in-house also use some type of software, with some agencies using special-purpose
Survey Results 35 software built specifically for scheduling (e.g., Trapeze or HASTUS) and some agencies using Excel (or a similar product). Transit agencies reported challenges in having enough time, resources, and expertise to analyze available data. Most transit agencies that produce their schedules in-house locate their scheduling depart- ments within the planning or operations divisions of the organizational chart. Large agencies have more schedulers overall, but fewer schedulers per fixed-route vehicle. Large urban agencies average 153 vehicles per scheduler FTE; rural agencies average nine vehicles per FTE. Many of the larger agencies have multiple job titles for transit schedulers, providing opportunities for variety and upward mobility. Transit schedulers are often required to interface directly with schedule users to receive feedback and get ideas for schedule changes. Transit agencies find it difficult to recruit and select transit schedulers. Typical recruitment tools are moderately effective at attracting good candidates, but transit agencies need more tools for selecting the best candidates for scheduler jobs. Overall, an in-person interview is the most-used tool, and agencies find interviews effectiveâespecially when the interviews are structured. Transit agencies also find it difficult to train new and current schedulers. New-hire training takes several months, and full competency may not be achieved for a few years. Current TCRP reports (TCRP Report 30 and TCRP Report 135) are underutilized, and many agencies do not know these resources exist. Most agencies do not have a documented or standard training program for schedulers, and most training is led by current agency staff in a one-on-one format. Although most transit agencies are not experiencing a significant loss of scheduling staff, several agencies have one or more schedulers eligible to retire (which can be significant given the typically small number of schedulers in each agency). Although losing transit schedulers can create a significant challenge for transit agencies, most agencies do not have explicit strategies for retaining their current schedulers. Many agencies use strategies to manage and improve current scheduler performance, including tracking various scheduling performance metrics (e.g., pay-to-platform ratios) and operational performance metrics (e.g., OTP). The majority of transit agencies share all scheduling work among all schedulers, so that no single scheduler is responsible for a specific schedule component. However, agencies that do assign specific responsibilities to individuals find the practice effective for quality control. A few transit agencies use a third party to create transit schedules, and they have been doing so for a while (most for longer than 5 years). Transit agencies typically use third parties for runcutting and rostering. Whenever third parties produce schedules, transit agencies always review them, relying on a wide variety of personnel or even contracted resources to do so. Reviewers examine several different schedule components and schedule metrics; the most commonly reviewed metrics are platform and revenue hours and miles and peak vehicle requirements. The findings from the survey suggest that the processes and practices in creating transit schedules vary widely across agencies; however, computer skills and the ability to synthesize both qualitative and quantitative data appear to be needed by transit schedulers regardless of how schedules are created. Although some agencies have more resources than others, in general, transit agencies would benefit from more tools and resources to effectively recruit, select, train, retain, and manage transit schedulers.