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Atlanta’s Paratransit Services: MARTA, Workers, & Passengers United for True Mobility Amalgamated Transit Union Local 732 November 2014.

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Presentation on theme: "Atlanta’s Paratransit Services: MARTA, Workers, & Passengers United for True Mobility Amalgamated Transit Union Local 732 November 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 Atlanta’s Paratransit Services: MARTA, Workers, & Passengers United for True Mobility Amalgamated Transit Union Local 732 November 2014

2  Ridership grew 14.6% between FY10 and FY14. National trend as population ages.  Key to cost savings & service improvements:  Reduce deadheading  Shorten trip lengths  Zones  ** Need to dissect entire operation, identify problems & solutions in a collaborative review process involving management, labor, and Mobility passengers. Quarterly reviews and joint committees needed in all areas. Overview on MARTA’s Mobility Services 2

3 Outsourcing of Mobility not in Passengers’ Best Interest 3

4  Tried and failed miserably in Atlanta in 1990s 4 Outsourcing of Mobility

5  MARTA’s sole focus  Training  Tracking  Course correction Absenteeism 5

6  Why does MARTA’s Mobility rate so poorly in service effectiveness? MARTA has done an internal analysis of its Mobility Services (paratransit), comparing its paratransit services to 22 “peer” agencies across the U.S. Mobility Services at MARTA: Room for Improvement 6

7 MetricMARTAGroup Avg.MARTA Rank Pct Deadhead (Miles) /23 Pct Deadhead (Hours) /23 Passengers/Revenue Mile Tied 9 th /23 Average Trip Length /23 Cost/Revenue Mile$3.36$4.666/23 Cost/Revenue Hour$60.03$67.969/23 Cost/Unlinked Trip$37.77$ /23 Trips/Revenue Hour1.61.9Tied 16 th /23 7 Source: MARTA, Comprehensive Operations Analysis, Mobility Update (Board Workshop), July 2014

8  MARTA’s Mobility service ranks 20 th out of 23 rd in deadhead miles and hours  MARTA ranks 23 out of 23 in terms of trip length  WHY? Room for Improvement 8

9 Source: National Transit Database Demand Response Passenger Trips City Unlinked Passenger Trips per Vehicle Revenue Hour Unlinked Passenger Trips per Vehicle Revenue Mile Knoxville Memphis Nashville Montgomery Birmingham Tampa Atlanta Southeast U.S. -- ALL directly operated (Public) 9 Industry goal is three trips per hour

10 Demand response operating expense per unlinked passenger trip at MARTA: $37.77 National Average (Public) - $31.74 Fewer Trips per Hour Drives up Costs 10

11  Deadhead – “The movement of a transit vehicle without passengers aboard; often to and from a garage or to and from one route to another” (APTA)  MARTA’s own study reveals that it ranks 20 th out of 23 rd in the percentage of deadhead miles and deadhead hours. Issue #1 – Deadhead Miles 11

12  No zone system  MARTA is one of the few major transit systems in the nation that does not use a zone system  Amazing considering service area (sprawl).  MARTA’s own “Comprehensive Operations Analysis” (July 2014) proposes zone revenue structure. Up to six zones being considered. Deadhead Miles 12

13  Long overdue  ATU has recommended this for years. Ignored. Zone System 13

14  Many cities use zone strategy which forbids ridesharing and increases the empty trip miles driven.  Better strategy is flexible. Allow for pickups on way back from trip. Combatting the Deadheading Issue 14

15 Drastic drop in total miles due to reduction in empty trip miles (TRB Study)  23% drop in empty trip miles in Houston  17% drop in empty miles in Los Angeles  21% drop in empty trip miles in Boston Service quality improved 15 Experiments in Innovative Zoning

16 Flexible zone strategies can result in  fewer vehicles (up to 6.6%)  less total mileage (up to 9% reduction)  higher values of passenger trips per revenue hour (up to 7.8%) Result: Reduced operations costs Deadheading 16

17 Reviewing Automatically Generated Schedules ATU RECOMMENDATION: Conduct a careful review of schedules the afternoon/evening before the day of service, and review runs several days in advance as they are being built by the automated scheduling system. Schedulers may find a better assignment for certain trips, even before they are full, that will minimize deadheading or keep vehicles in areas at times when other demand is expected. By constantly reviewing the runs as they are created, schedulers can help the automated system make better decisions on subsequent trip assignments. Deadheading 17

18 MARTA’s internal study:  Average trip length for Mobility passengers ranked 23 rd out of 23 rd when compared to 22 peer agencies.  The length of these trips holds down the number of passengers per hour. Issue #2: Average Trip Length 18

19 ATU RECOMMENDATION: MARTA should use satellite locations in the North, South, East, and West corridors to cut down on trip time. Trip Length 19

20  ATU RECOMMENDATION: Ride lengths should be monitored regularly to identify scheduled trips that last longer than the system standard.  It may be feasible to ensure that ride lengths do not exceed 1.5 times the same trip on a fixed route, including wait times and transfers. Tabulate trips by duration (number and percentage less than 60 minutes; number and percentage 61–90 minutes; number and percentage more than 90 minutes). Periodically compare these times to fixed-route travel times for reasonableness.  Scheduling is key  MARTA: Circuitous routes. Trip Length 20

21  Regularly review the on-board time of the riders picked up first (or dropped off last) to keep travel times within acceptable limits.  Identify runs that “double back.” Vehicle may be scheduled to pass close by a rider’s destination on the way to another pick-up/drop off and the rider must “double back” to finally complete the trip. Even if the total travel time is not excessive, this approach may anger riders who cannot understand why they are kept on board. Consider more direct routing. Some state-of-the-art scheduling systems also have parameters that can be set to minimize this from happening. MARTA’s software is eight years old. Trip Length Best Practices 21

22 FTA Audit: December 2013 Findings:  MARTA must establish & publish a telephone hold time standard for the Mobility Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA).  Weekend & holiday hours for making reservations do not meet DOT’s ADA requirements.  MARTA must revise its policy on tracking denials. Other Issues 22

23  MARTA must establish & publish an on time standard for scheduled appointment times.  MARTA must establish & publish a standard for comparable trip lengths.  MARTA must revise its definition of missed trips & establish a goal of “0” for missed trips. FTA findings: December

24  MARTA: “Has addressed each finding and is confident that future reviews will not reveal the same findings.”  ATU: Problems will persist, endangering federal funds, unless overarching issues are addressed. FTA findings: December

25 ATU RECOMMENDATION: A more accurate and efficient determination of applicant eligibility can be accomplished through in-person interviews, functional assessments and public outreach programs. Some people better served by existing, fixed-route systems. Eligibility Determination 25

26 In-Person Interview ATU RECOMMENDATION: Maintain a policy to contact every applicant by phone to discuss the information included in their paper applications. Ask all applicants to participate in in-person interviews to discuss travel needs and issues. Eligibility Determination 26

27 ATU RECOMMENDATION: Undertake recertification of all paratransit passengers on regular basis. Fine tune application and certification process, incorporate any changes in policies and practices, and update client lists to account for changes in status, relocations, and deaths. Common practice is every three years. Recertification 27

28  BEST PRACTICES: SORTA (Cincinnati) employs two full-time, trained travel trainers who split time between conducting eligibility interviews and assessments and providing one-on-one travel training. Spends $84,000 annually, saves about $250,000–$300,000.  Seattle: Spends $161,580 on travel training, saves $417,000 in paratransit costs by successfully transitioning individuals to the fixed- route system.  Broward County: Saves $2,300 per year for each person who is successfully travel trained. Coordinating Eligibility Determination and Travel Training Efforts 28

29  Minnesota  29 Model Travel Training Program

30 ATU RECOMMENDATIONS: Establish a travel host program — Work with local non-profit job training and placement agencies that provide aid to people with disabilities to create a program. Travel hosts can provide assistance to a daily list of riders with special needs. Representatives meet these riders as they arrive and help them get to the next bus to complete their trips. Establish a bus buddy program — Local agencies can provide travel companions for seniors or other eligible clients. This program links volunteers who are familiar with the fixed-route service with others who want to travel on the buses. The volunteers serve as companions to assist these riders as well as to teach them how to use the service. Travel Training 30

31 Standing orders at Mobility are likely more than 50% of the total number of trips provided. Riders regularly cancel or fail to show for scheduled rides. Subscription trip times are not effectively negotiated and don’t fit well with other demand. Leads to inefficient runs. ATU RECOMMENDATION: Consider requiring new subscription riders to call in their requested trips for the first few weeks to ensure that the standing order will actually occur as planned. Once the pattern is established, then the actual standing order or subscription trip can be established. Managing Subscription Services 31

32 ATU RECOMMENDATION: Review on a regular basis how subscription trips are assigned each day. Consider reducing advance-reservation period; introducing immediate- response requests and policy for customer abuse. Consider development of appropriate policies for addressing late cancellations and/or no-shows. Consider changing definition of late cancellations. Frequent Cancellations or No-Shows 32

33 On-Time Performance Examples of MARTA practices that cause late trips: Poor reservations and scheduling practices that result in manifests containing incorrect addresses, times, or other information. Tight scheduling parameters or overbooking runs that result in manifests that are not reasonable. Inadequate vehicle or driver backup that causes late or missed pullouts. Poor dispatching practices that are not effective in adjusting runs when in-service problems arise. ATU RECOMMENDATION: A standard for on-time performance between 90% and 95% is not unreasonable. Monitoring & Management 33

34 Trip denials ATU RECOMMENDATIONS: 1.Analyze denial patterns. Examine denials by number of days in advance that trip requests are placed by time of day, day of the week, and for trip requests from riders who are ambulatory versus those who are non-ambulatory. This type of analysis helps determine high-capacity times as well as needed changes to fleet composition. 2.Make sure reservationists properly code denials to avoid undercounting or incorrectly categorizing denials. Only one denial should be attributed to any one trip. If both legs of a roundtrip are refused, two denials should be recorded, regardless of whether or not one of the legs of the trip satisfied the rider’s needs. Monitoring & Management 34

35 MARTA needs to focus demand on certain times and locations to create more efficient paratransit service. ATU RECOMMENDATION: Operate shopper shuttle service, providing regular transportation from riders’ homes to selected large grocery stores at set times. Cluster Riders 35

36 ATU RECOMMENDATION: To cut down on no-shows, use automated phone system for reminder or verification calls to the patron on the day and/or the day prior to travel. Reservation Process 36

37 Mistakes = ripple effect throughout the entire process. ATU RECOMMENDATION: If a caller wants to be picked up at a specific time, the reservationist should still ask whether there is a set time that the person needs to arrive. Failing to request or record appointment/desired arrival times may unintentionally be providing poor on-time service if passengers are consistently late arriving at their destinations. Reservations 37

38  ATU RECOMMENDATION: Training needed for reservationists. Too many people on staff do not know the streets in the Atlanta region. Results in major delays. 38 Reservations

39  Coverage issue. Passengers leave messages on answering machine after hours to cancel. Messages often not picked up. Drivers show up for no reason.  ATU RECOMMENDATION: Need 24/7 coverage. No more messages. Need labor/management/passenger committee to review manifests. 39 Reservations

40  ATU RECOMMENDATION: Joint committee of Mobility drivers, schedulers, and passengers to review manifests and provide feedback on routes. 40 “Street Smart” Committee

41 Developed via computer ATU RECOMMENDATIONS: Must be reviewed by employees to verify the process. MARTA needs procedure for reporting and documenting incidents, such as immediate reports to the dispatchers and accurate record keeping on trip manifests. Monitor and proactively respond to patrons who exhibit no-show patterns. Scheduling 41

42 Major cause of delays at Mobility: broken down vehicles. The 3800 and 3900 fleets well beyond useful life (200,000 – 300,000 miles). ATU RECOMMENDATION: Replacement vehicles needed. Shortage = delays. Vehicles 42

43  Safety and maintenance issues  Private sector not the way to go Vehicles 43 A private company’s dedication to quality vehicles (Pensacola, FL) Raises workers comp issues

44  Fleet too small  Vehicle turnaround issue 44 Vehicles

45  Passengers held hostage at doctor (finish early). Need to accommodate people. Requests for early pick up not consistent (passenger driven). More vehicles would help. 45 Vehicle Shortage

46  Software is eight years old, ancient by today’s standards.  Causes scheduling and dispatch issues because MDT screens freeze up and fail.  Triple booking - Mobility regularly sends vehicles to same location at same time. ATU RECOMMENDATION: New software needed. Software 46

47  Up front cost to replace. Savings on back end. 47 Vehicles and Software

48 ATU RECOMMENDATIONS: Market the Mobility program with color- coordinated brochures that highlight all facets of programs and services. Newsletter providing information about scheduling changes or concerns, trip routes, extended services and hours of operation. Community meetings to draw interest and address common complaints, or garner praise. A detailed service brochure with a “preapplication” can be effective in educating local communities. Conduct seminars for local agencies to educate them about ADA paratransit eligibility criteria. Public Information 48

49 ATU RECOMMENDATION: Important to have seamless coordination with the fixed route part of the system. Successful transit systems have paratransit and fixed route management literally at desks across from each other. MARTA looks at these modes as entirely separate -- the wrong approach. Fixed route can complement the paratransit routes. Coordination with Fixed Route 49

50 A Mobility customer has trouble getting their wheelchair onto a paratransit vehicle. If a fixed route bus is nearby, they can handle the issue. Flex routes: During off peak times, fixed route buses can deviate from their routes to pick up people with disabilities at their curbs. No special service is needed, saving lots of money. Examples Of Coordination 50

51 ATU RECOMMENDATIONS: Examine off hours. While service during peak hours may cost $37 per hour, these costs could reach much higher during the wee hours of the morning. Target changes for work between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. Determine appropriate workforce size for nights and weekends. Part timers? Traditionally, mechanics, dispatchers, and operators are needed at all times. However, during the off hours, it is possible to perhaps have no dispatchers, or to have maintenance on call. Off Hours 51

52  Mobility needs fixing.  Many issues.  Outsourcing is wrong answer.  Address the overarching issues and others will take care of themselves. Conclusions 52

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