New York City Transit
You can find information for people with disabilities about traveling on MTA public transportation, including a great deal of information about Access-A-Ride by clicking here: http://www.mta.nyc.ny.us/mta/ada/index.html
Attachments included in the report but not in the Word DOC file nor on this site: Public entities that operate fixed route transportation services for the general public are required by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) to provide ADA Complementary Paratransit service for persons who, because of their disability, are unable to use the fixed route system. These regulations (49 CFR Parts 27, 37, and 38) include six service criteria, which must be met by ADA Complementary Paratransit service programs. Section 37.135(d) of the regulations requires that ADA Complementary Paratransit services meet these criteria by January 26, 1997. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is responsible for ensuring compliance with the ADA and the USDOT regulations. As part of its compliance efforts, FTA, through its Office of Civil Rights, conducts periodic reviews of fixed route transit and ADA Complementary Paratransit services operated by grantees. The purpose of these reviews is to assist the transit agency and the FTA in determining whether capacity constraints exist in ADA Complementary Paratransit services. The reviews examine policies and standards related to service capacity constraints such as those measured by on-time performance, on-board travel time, telephone hold times, trip denials, and any other trip-limiting factors. The reviews consider whether there are patterns or practices of a substantial number of trip limits, trip denials, early or late pick-ups or arrivals after desired arrival (or appointment) times, long trips, or long telephone hold times as defined by established standards (or typical practices if standards do not exist). The examination of patterns or practices includes looking not just at service statistics, but also at basic service records and operating documents, and observing service to determine whether records and documents appear to reflect true levels of service delivery. Input also is gathered from local disability organizations and customers. Guidance is provided to assist the transit operator in monitoring service for capacity constraints. An on-site compliance review of ADA Complementary Paratransit service provided by New York City Transit (NYCT) of New York, New York was conducted September 10-18, 2003. Planners Collaborative, Inc., located in Boston, Massachusetts, and Multisystems, Inc., located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, conducted the review for the FTA Office of Civil Rights. The review focused on compliance of NYCT's ADA Complementary Paratransit service with one specific regulatory service criterion: the This report summarizes the observations and findings of the on-site review of NYCT's ADA Complementary Paratransit service. First, a description of the approach and methodology used to conduct the review is provided. Then, a description of key features of transit services provided by NYCT - fixed route, demand responsive, and ADA Complementary Paratransit service - is provided. All of the findings of the review are summarized in Section IV. Observations and findings related to each element of the capacity constraint criteria are then presented in Sections V through IX. Recommendations for addressing some of the findings are also provided. NYCT was provided with a draft copy of the report for review and response. A copy of the correspondence received from NYCT on June 28, 2004, documenting their response to the draft report
Attachments included in the report but not in the Word DOC file nor on this site:
Public entities that operate fixed route transportation services for the general public are required by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) to provide ADA Complementary Paratransit service for persons who, because of their disability, are unable to use the fixed route system. These regulations (49 CFR Parts 27, 37, and 38) include six service criteria, which must be met by ADA Complementary Paratransit service programs. Section 37.135(d) of the regulations requires that ADA Complementary Paratransit services meet these criteria by January 26, 1997.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is responsible for ensuring compliance with the ADA and the USDOT regulations. As part of its compliance efforts, FTA, through its Office of Civil Rights, conducts periodic reviews of fixed route transit and ADA Complementary Paratransit services operated by grantees.
The purpose of these reviews is to assist the transit agency and the FTA in determining whether capacity constraints exist in ADA Complementary Paratransit services. The reviews examine policies and standards related to service capacity constraints such as those measured by on-time performance, on-board travel time, telephone hold times, trip denials, and any other trip-limiting factors. The reviews consider whether there are patterns or practices of a substantial number of trip limits, trip denials, early or late pick-ups or arrivals after desired arrival (or appointment) times, long trips, or long telephone hold times as defined by established standards (or typical practices if standards do not exist). The examination of patterns or practices includes looking not just at service statistics, but also at basic service records and operating documents, and observing service to determine whether records and documents appear to reflect true levels of service delivery. Input also is gathered from local disability organizations and customers. Guidance is provided to assist the transit operator in monitoring service for capacity constraints.
An on-site compliance review of ADA Complementary Paratransit service provided by New York City Transit (NYCT) of New York, New York was conducted September 10-18, 2003. Planners Collaborative, Inc., located in Boston, Massachusetts, and Multisystems, Inc., located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, conducted the review for the FTA Office of Civil Rights. The review focused on compliance of NYCT's ADA Complementary Paratransit service with one specific regulatory service criterion: the
This report summarizes the observations and findings of the on-site review of NYCT's ADA Complementary Paratransit service. First, a description of the approach and methodology used to conduct the review is provided. Then, a description of key features of transit services provided by NYCT - fixed route, demand responsive, and ADA Complementary Paratransit service - is provided. All of the findings of the review are summarized in Section IV. Observations and findings related to each element of the capacity constraint criteria are then presented in Sections V through IX. Recommendations for addressing some of the findings are also provided.
NYCT was provided with a draft copy of the report for review and response. A copy of the correspondence received from NYCT on June 28, 2004, documenting their response to the draft report
This review focused on compliance with the ADA Complementary Paratransit capacity constraints requirements of the DOT ADA regulations. Several possible types of capacity constraints are identified by the regulations. These include
To assess each of these potential types of capacity constraints, the review focused on observations and findings regarding:
Observations and findings related to two other policies and practices that can affect ADA Complementary Paratransit use also are provided, including:
ADA Complementary Paratransit eligibility determinations were assessed to ensure that access to service was not adversely impacted by inappropriate denials of eligibility for the service or unreasonable delays in the eligibility process. Telephone capacity was assessed because access to reservations and customer service staff is critical to the effective use of any ADA Complementary Paratransit service.Pre-Review
The review first involved the collection and examination of key service information prior to the on-site visit. This information included:
NYCT was requested to make additional information available during the on-site visit. This information included:
An on-site review of the service was conducted from September 10-18, 2003. The on-site review began with an opening conference, held at 1:00 PM on Wednesday, September 10, 2003. NYCT representatives attending the meeting included: Lawrence Reuter, President; Millard Seay, Senior Vice President; Barbara Spencer, Executive Vice President; Mary McCorry, Legal Department and from NYCT Paratransit Division: Howard Ende, Vice President Paratransit Division; Brian Altschul, Director Telecommunications & Information Services; Michael Cosgrove, Contract Management Officer; Dennis Erkus, Command Center Officer; John Gaito; Aldo Martelli, Standards and Compliance Officer; Beverly Morris, Eligibility & Planning Officer, Maritza Troncoso, Financial Services Officer; and Carol Zwick, Customer Relations Officer. Marc Albrecht, Grants Management and Noreen Din, Civil Rights, from the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority also attended. Don Kidston and David Chia of Planners Collaborative, and Russell Thatcher and Rosemary Mathias of TranSystems, Inc. represented the FTA review team. Cheryl Hershey, David Knight and David Schneider of the FTA's Office of Civil Rights in Washington, D.C. also participated in the opening conference via telephone.
Cheryl Hershey opened the meeting by thanking NYCT for their cooperation in the review. She described the purpose of the review and emphasized that it was intended to assist NYCT in providing effective ADA Complementary Paratransit service and acknowledged the service challenges that NYCT faces in such a large urbanized area. Ms. Hershey outlined the steps in the review process:
Don Kidston indicated the objective of the review to identify significant impediments, if any, to people with disabilities receiving the service that they are entitled to under the ADA, and to assist NYCT in improving service if warranted. He described the scope of the review as including review of policies, procedures, practices and performance that can affect availability of effective service. The areas to be addressed include eligibility, telephone access, reservations and scheduling, performance, operating procedures and practices and adequacy of resources. Mr. Kidston went on to present the schedule for the on-site review, including the parts of the operation that would be observed by day.
Mr. Reuter noted strong support for Access-A-Ride (AAR) by NYCT and MTA as evidenced by substantial increases in financial support for the program in recent years.
Following the opening conference, the review team toured the AAR offices at 2 Broadway in Manhattan and met with senior AAR staff to discuss the service structure and standards and the information available on-site. The review team also accepted reports and information provided by NYCT in response to FTA's earlier request. Members of the review team also observed call takers in the reservations section of the call center. Team members sat with selected reservationists, listened in on calls from riders and recorded the handling of trip requests.
During the morning of Thursday, September 11, 2003, three team members continued observations of the trip reservations and scheduling process. One team member observed call takers handling customer calls related to same day service issues. During the afternoon review team members began review and analysis of telephone performance reports, the trip scheduling process and reports on disposition of trip requests and performance in serving completed trips. Review team members also continued to observe call taker handling of trip reservations and scheduling and same-day trip inquiries.
On Friday, September 12 and Monday September 15 the review team split into teams of two and visited each of the eight primary service providers. One team visited Star Cruiser Transportation Inc. and the other Transit Facility Management Corp. on Friday morning; and MV Transportation, Inc. and RJR Paratransit Corp. on Friday afternoon. The teams visited Maggie's Paratransit Corp. and PTM Management Corp. on Monday morning and Atlantic Paratransit of NYC, Inc. and American Transit, Inc. on Monday afternoon. At each operator's site review team members observed dispatchers and interviewed drivers and managers regarding operating procedures and practices. Team members also collected information on personnel and equipment, as related to their capacity to provide effective service.
On Tuesday review team members returned to AAR offices at 2 Broadway and continued to interview managers and collect and review reports and information. One team member continued to review disposition of trip requests and performance in serving completed trips, focusing on one sample day. Team members also initiated review of the eligibility process, complaints received by NYCT, service design parameters, and the AAR budget process.
On Wednesday review team members continued review of disposition of trip requests and performance in serving completed trips and eligibility. One team member visited an NYCT AAR eligibility contractor. Another team member spent much of the day at NYCT's Headquarters at 370 Jay Street in Brooklyn analyzing duration of paratransit trips compared to fixed route trip duration for the same trip origin and destination. Team members also summarized the results of driver interviews and initiated analysis of operator resources. The review team leader briefed FTA on progress of the review.
Due to hurricane Isabel, which was forecast to impact New York City on Thursday, September 18, NYCT requested that the Closing Conference be rescheduled from 1:00 PM on Thursday to 8:00 AM. As a result the review team spent Wednesday evening continuing its analysis and preparing for the closing conference.
An exit conference was then held at 8:00 AM on Thursday, September 18, 2003. Attending the exit conference for NYCT were: Lawrence Reuter, President; Millard Seay, Senior Vice President; Barbara Spencer, Executive Vice President; Robin Bergstrom and Mary McCorry, Legal Department and from NYCT Paratransit Division: Howard Ende, Vice President Paratransit Division; Michael Cosgrove, Contract Management Officer; Dennis Erkus, Command Center Officer; John Gaito; Aldo Martelli, Standards and Compliance Officer; Beverly Morris, Eligibility & Planning Officer, and Carol Zwick, Customer Relations Officer. Attending from FTA's Office of Civil Rights were Michael Winter, Director; John Prince, Jr. Civil Rights Officer, Region II; and David Knight. Attending for the review team were Don Kidston and David Chia of Planners Collaborative, and Russell Thatcher and Rosemary Mathias of TranSystems.
Mr. Winter opened the exit conference by thanking the NYCT staff for their cooperation in the review.
The review team members then presented an overview of the assessment and initial findings in each of the following areas:
There was discussion throughout presentation of the preliminary findings. Following the presentation, Mr. Winter noted that NYCT has made progress in recent years in improving AAR service. He expressed concern about the number of trips classified as no shows and the number of late trips. NYCT agreed to perform a more detailed analysis of these trips. Mr. Winter expressed concern that NYCT's suspension policy, were it fully enforced, could be overly restrictive and an impediment to use of the service by people who have disabilities. Mr. Winter also encouraged NYCT to increase public information on and availability of travel training to promote use of fixed route services by people with disabilities.
Mr. Winter and the review team again thanked NYCT for their cooperation during the field review. NYCT officials thanked FTA and the review team for their input.III. Background
New York City Transit (NYCT) is a New York State Public Benefit Corporation and public authority and is an affiliate of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). NYCT is the principal transit operator in New York City, providing a rapid rail and bus transit service throughout all five boroughs that comprise the city.Description of Fixed Route Service
General - The train fleet consists of 5,758 subway cars and the bus fleet consists of 4,489 buses (Source: 2000 National Transit Database). NYCT operates 25 subway lines, 204 local and 31 express bus routes.
NYCT operates the nation's largest subway system with 228 miles of right-of-way linking three boroughs (Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens) with Manhattan and its central business district. NYCT also operates the Staten Island Railway (SIR), a single line, 14-mile rapid rail facility owned by the Staten Island Railway, another MTA subsidiary. The Staten Island Ferry links the SIR to Manhattan.
The NYCT rapid transit system consists of 731 track miles, of which 70 are on elevated structure. The deepest station is 181 feet below street level; the highest station is 87.5 feet above street level. The system picks up and drops off passengers at 468 stations and from 1077 train platforms. Average weekday ridership is approximately 4.3 million passengers with 1.7 billion unlinked passenger trips served annually.1 In addition NYCT serves approximately 822 million unlinked bus passenger trips each year. (Source: 2000 National Transit Database)
As of May 17, 2004, NYCT has 55 stations (40 accessible key stations and 15 other accessible stations) that are accessible individuals including people who use wheelchairs.
The NYCT rapid transit system is actually the consolidation of three historically separate systems known as the IRT, BMT and IND. These systems were constructed and operated by private and public entities in the early part of the 20th century. A major task of NYCT since its creation in 1953 has been the integration of the three systems into a single operating authority.
In addition to the core rapid rail system, NYCT is responsible for operation of service on the Staten Island Railway (SIR), another subsidiary of MTA. SIR is responsible for the railroad facilities, with the City of New York responsible for funding SIR. SIR was once owned and operated by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad as a passenger/freight railroad. In 1971, following years of increasing deficits, the SIR was acquired by the City of New York and later conveyed to the MTA as a subsidiary corporation.
SIR operates a single route over a 14.3-mile double track, grade separated right-of-way between the Staten Island communities of St. George and Tottenville. SIR uses 64 rail cars, which were overhauled in 1990 and 1991 by NYCT to serve 22 stations. St. George, the terminal for the Staten Island Ferry service, has the highest volume passengers of stations on the route. The Staten Island Ferry service, linking Staten Island with Manhattan, is operated by the City of New York. All SIR service is coordinated with the ferry service. In 1999 SIR served five million annual passenger trips. The heaviest concentration of passenger trip ends is at the mid sector of the route near the communities of Bay Terrace, Great Kills, Eltingville, Annadale and Huguenot.
In 2001 NYCT reported operating 3,840 buses during peak periods out of a fleet of approximately 4,500 buses.
Service Area - The NYCT service area is the City of New York including all five boroughs, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. The area covers 322 square miles and had a 2000 population of 8,008,278. New York City is the center of the New York - Northern New Jersey Urbanized Area, which covers 2,967 square miles and had a 2000 population of 21,200,000. (Source: United States Census)
NYCT buses operate throughout the five boroughs and in several locations serve areas (within three-fourths of a mile of the bus route) beyond the city limits. A number of NYCT bus routes operate less than three-fourths of a mile from the Bronx-Westchester County Border and the Queens-Nassau County border with routes 5 and 85 extending less than a mile into Nassau County.
Service description - The NYCT A Division consists of the former IRT system. This is the oldest NYCT Division with most facilities built between 1904 and 1928. The A Division includes the Lexington Avenue Line (Lines 4, 5 and 6), the Broadway-Seventh Avenue Line (Lines 1/9, 2 and 3), the Flushing Line (Line 7), and the 42nd Street to Grand Central Terminal Shuttle (S). The Lexington Avenue and Seventh Avenue Lines link Manhattan with the Boroughs of Brooklyn and the Bronx. The Lexington Avenue Line is the second most crowded line in the system. The cars used on the A Division are shorter and narrower than those of the other Divisions.
NYCT's B Division consists of the former IND and BMT systems. Both the IND and BMT systems shared identical car dimensions and tunnel clearances. NYCT Subdivision B-1 is the former BMT system. This is the second oldest NYCT Division, largely constructed between 1915 and 1931. Subdivision B-2, formerly the IND system, is the newest Division, largely constructed between 1925 and 1948. The B Division lines include the Eighth Avenue Line (A, C and E), the Sixth Avenue Line (B, D, F and Q), the Broadway Line (N and R), the Nassau Street Line (J/Z and M), the 14th Street Line (L), the Cross-town Line (G) and the Franklin Avenue Shuttle (S). Many of these lines also feature branches that extend into the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. The Queens Boulevard corridor line (E, F, R and G) is the most crowded line of the rapid transit system.
Service Hours - Citywide service is available on a 24-hour basis. Train connections with the ferry service are scheduled 24 hours a day seven days a week. Many of NYCT's bus routes also operate 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
Fares - The base fare (not including discounts) throughout the NYCT and SIR systems is $2.00 regardless of distances traveled. Free transfers are provided between vehicles. Fares on express buses are $4.00 and also include free transfers to other NYCT services.
On the SIR, fares are collected as passengers enter and exit the system at the St. George Terminal. No fares are collected at any other SIR station.
On the NYCT system, fares are collected at fare gates (turnstiles) as patrons enter the system. MetroCards are predominately used as the system-wide fare medium. Tokens are still accepted.
MetroCards may be purchased at staffed fare booths at the stations and from MetroCard vending machines. MetroCard rates are:
When traveling via subway, people with disabilities and senior citizens upon presenting Medicare card or other specifically approved ID, such as a Paratransit ID, can purchase a $2 MetroCard from the station agent and receive a return-trip ticket. Reduced-fare MetroCards are also available by special application to NYCT.Description of the ADA Complementary Paratransit Service
General - NYCT assumed responsibility for operation of Access-A-Ride (AAR), its ADA Complementary Paratransit service in 1993. Previously the service had been operated by the New York City Department of Transportation. The Division of Paratransit in the NYCT Department of Buses is now responsible for AAR service. AAR has a 15 member advisory committee with new (replacement) members selected by consensus of the committee. The committee controls meeting agendas.
Trip requests are made to a central reservation center located at the offices of the NYCT Paratransit Division at 2 Broadway in New York City. Scheduling of trips is also performed in these offices. NYCT Paratransit managers oversee the reservation center operation and scheduling function, which are performed by a contractor, First Transit. Dispatch and operation of service is performed by each of eight contracted carriers at their operating facilities. The eight carriers and their locations are:
A more complete description of operator locations appears in Appendix C. Although each of the carriers operates throughout the entire service area, each carrier is assigned trips based on 9 geographic zones. The assignment results in each carrier operating in a primary service area. The service zones are discussed further elsewhere in this report. Each of the eight operators is providing service under the terms of a five-year contract executed during August of 2001.
Customers direct concerns on the service day to the NYCT Paratransit Division's service center located at 2 Broadway. The service center addresses service issues with the appropriate carrier. The service center is also operated through a contract with First Transit under the supervision of NYCT managers.
Service Area - The DOT ADA regulations require that ADA Complementary Paratransit service be available within three-fourths of a mile of all bus routes, and within three-fourths of a mile of all rail stations (49 CFR §37.131(a)). NYCT bus and subway service, with a few exceptions, covers all of New York City. AAR provides service to all points within New York City.
There are a number of NYCT local bus routes in Queens and the Bronx that are within three-fourths of a mile of Nassau and Westchester Counties, respectively (in addition, there are bus routes in Queens operated by private carriers under contract to New York City that are within three-fourths of a mile of Nassau County). Table III.1 lists some of the NYCT bus routes that are within three-fourths of a mile of Nassau or Westchester Counties.
The areas in Nassau and Westchester Counties within three-fourths of a mile of an NYCT bus route are part of the mandated ADA Complementary Paratransit service area. With the exception of the areas associated with routes Q5 and Q85, AAR does not provide service beyond the borders of New York City.
NYCT coordinates cross-jurisdictional trips for ADA Complementary Paratransit service with three adjoining fixed route providers:
For AAR riders who want to travel into Nassau County, AAR and ABLE Ride have three designated transfer points near the Queens/Nassau border. For AAR riders who want to travel into Westchester County, AAR and B Line have five transfer points near the Bronx/Westchester border. For AAR riders who want to travel into New Jersey, the transfer point is the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan. For any cross-jurisdictional travel, a rider must be a registered client of both services. The rider must make separate reservations with each service, be responsible for coordinating the transfer between the two services, and pay separate fares. AAR does not track the number of cross-jurisdictional trips that its clients make.
Service Hours - The USDOT ADA regulations require that ADA Complementary Paratransit service be available during the same hours and days as fixed route service (49 CFR §37.131(e)). NYCT's subways operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Many of NYCT's fixed bus routes also run around the clock. AAR also provides service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Fares - The DOT ADA regulations require that the fare for ADA Complementary Paratransit service be no more than two times the base fare for a comparable fixed route trip (49 CFR §37.131(c)). NYCT's base fare for the bus and subway is $2.00. The fare for AAR is also $2.00 for a one-way trip.Access-A-Ride Performance Standards
NYCT has established the following service performance standards for AAR service:
Prior to and during the field portion of the compliance review the review team gathered input from the perspective of consumers to assist the reviewers in identifying compliance issues of concern to consumers. Input was collected from review of recent litigation, complaints on-file with FTA, consumer interviews, and review of customer complaints on file with AAR.Recent Litigation
Three individuals and Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York, the Brooklyn Center for the Independence of the Disabled, Inc., Bronx Independent Living Services, The Center for the Independence of the Disabled in New York, Inc. and Queens Independent Living Center, Inc. filed a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York City Transit in November of 1998.
The complaint was settled on September 30, 1999. Among the agreements reached were:
NYCT reported that the U.S. District Court dismissed this action with prejudice in May 2002. According to NYCT the court found that NYCT had met all of the terms of the agreement except one and that it had met its good faith effort on that one term.Formal ADA Complaints Received by FTA
There were 2 recent complaints relating to AAR service on file with FTA. Both of those complaints, which were filed between April 25, 2000 and May 10, 2000, were closed.
Issues raised in the complaints were:
In August one of the reviewers met with a number of AAR customers and people who represented customers. Among those interviewed were three AAR customers and three consumer representatives. The purpose of these meetings was to identify concerns of consumers prior to the review as a means of focusing the review effort on potential problems. In addition a reviewer interviewed a customer representative.
Among the concerns identified were:
There is no effort to contact customer no-shows with the exception of one operator, RJR, which does it sometimes. Customers are categorized as no-shows when the vehicle arrives late and the customer is no longer waiting for the ride. A consumer provided an audiotape, which purports to demonstrate dispatchers directing drivers to classify missed trips as customer no-shows. Verification of what is said on the tape has not been possible because of the poor quality of the audio.
Missed trips from vehicles going to the wrong place are a problem. AAR has been addressing this problem by establishing standard pick-up locations.
Pick-ups are late in the evening. When a second vehicle is dispatched for a late pick-up it often arrives 1.5 hours late. AAR provides vouchers for Yellow Cab service for ambulatory customers who are stranded (missed trip). The vouchers are usually authorized after the trip is significantly late (1 hour). The number of vouchers available is limited by budget. Since Yellow cabs are not accessible to wheelchairs, the vouchers are not available to wheelchair users.
Travel times are long in the evenings causing some customers to avoid use of the service. Trips have been as long as 3 hours, exceeding NYCT's standard of 155 minutes (2 hours and 35 minutes) for trip length.
One consumer representative indicated that NYCT oversight and coordination with operators appeared limited.
Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York also provided FTA with an extensive report on problems with AAR Services. Concerns raised include:
Access-A-Ride (AAR) receives rider comments on its service by phone, e-mail, fax, and in writing. The telephone number for rider comments appears in the AAR brochure. The telephone number is also listed on the AAR web site, as well as in each rider newsletter. Telephone comments for all NYCT services are directed to this number.
AAR records and tracks comments concerning ADA Complementary Paratransit service through an email based system (
The goal of AAR is to reply to each complaint within 60 days. However, at the time of the review team's visit, AAR was not tracking its performance in meeting this goal.
For the first 7 months of 2003, AAR had a total of 6,902 complaints recorded in Right Now (AAR had also received 394 commendations during that period). Table III.2 presents the top categories (at least one percent) of complaints for that period. AAR's Customer Service Unit developed these categories.
The 6,092 complaints yield an average of 986 per month. In 2002, AAR recorded 15,660 complaints, or 1,305 per month. In 2001, AAR recorded 12,012 complaints, or 1,001 per month.
The Customer Service Unit staff said that they use the tracking system to
The Customer Service Unit has not analyzed complaints by individual carriers. Until 2003, they had not consistently recorded that information in Right Now.
As can be seen in Table III.2, principal customer complaints were for missed trips (26.3%), late pick-ups (15.8%) and long ride times (8.5%).Findings
The following summarizes the findings made as a result of the review. The findings are observations of policies, procedures, practices and performance that relate to delivery of service as required by USDOT ADA Regulations at the time of the review. Findings may be positive, neutral, or observations of opportunities to improve service delivery. The bases for these findings are presented in other sections of this report. Findings of opportunities to improve service should be used to identify corrective actions proposed by NYCT. Recommendations are also included in the body of the report for NYCT's consideration in developing corrective actions.
The process used to determine ADA Complementary Paratransit eligibility was reviewed to ensure that determinations are being made in accordance with the regulatory criteria and in a way that accurately reflects the functional ability of applicants. The timeliness of the processing of requests for eligibility was also assessed. Finally, the process used to identify and suspend riders for excessive no-shows was reviewed. The review of these issues was completed as follows:
As noted in Section III of this report, a meeting was held with advocates and riders in advance of the on-site visit to discuss rider experiences with the paratransit service. A report prepared by Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York was also received and reviewed prior to the on-site visit. This meeting and report identified the following eligibility determination issues:
Two formal ADA complaints regarding AAR were filed with FTA in 2000. One complaint claimed that authorization to travel with a personal attendant had been inappropriately denied. The process used to suspend riders who had accumulated no-shows was also challenged.
A relatively small number of rider comments received directly by NYCT also cited issues with various aspects of the eligibility determination process. In calendar year 2002, 145 of the 15,660 rider comments received by NYCT (about 1%) concerned the eligibility process. Between January and early September 2003, 51 of 6,902 total complaints (0.7%) concerned the eligibility process.Overview of the Eligibility Determination Process and Materials
NYCT managers indicated that prospective clients are made aware of AAR and the eligibility process through out-reach efforts, bulk mailings. Individuals interested in applying for ADA Comprehensive Paratransit eligibility are referred to the Eligibility Determination Unit (EDU) of NYCT's Paratransit Division. Six to eight staff persons in the EDU (depending on the day and time) answer phones, provide general information about the service, and application process, and send
The standard print application form is eight-pages long (Attachment D). The first page provides instructions for completing the form/process and provides contact information should applicants need assistance. The instructions request that two photographs be submitted with the completed application form. One photo is kept on file and one is used to prepare an ID card for persons determined eligible.
The second page of the application form is a statement that must be signed by applicants. The statement notes that the applicant understands that: the form will be returned if incomplete; an evaluation by a professional certifier selected by NYCT might be required as part of the process; the information provided in the form is true to the best of the applicant's knowledge; misrepresentation of information could result in a revocation of eligibility; a failure to cooperate with requests for additional information to verify information provided in the application could be grounds for a suspension or revocation of eligibility; and failure to adhere to service policies and procedures could be grounds for suspension or revocation. The statement also indicates that applicants agree to notify NYCT if paratransit is no longer needed.
The remainder of the application form requests: general information (name, address, phone, etc.); information about current travel and use of MTA services and programs (fixed route bus, subway and reduced fare services); information about the applicant's disability and mobility aids used; information about travel abilities (i.e., ability to travel to the nearest bus stop and subway station, ability to board and ride buses and enter and use subways, obtain and understand information needed to use the service, etc.). Open ended questions are included that ask applicants to identify how their disability prevents them from using bus or subway services and to provide any other information they feel is important. One question also lists typical issues that might prevent travel by fixed route (i.e., distances to/from stops, inclement weather, hills, path-of-travel barriers, etc.) and asks applicants to identify all that might prevent their travel by bus or subway. A question about the need for a personal attendant is also included and applicants are asked to describe what assistance an attendant provides. Finally, information about the applicant's three most frequent destinations is requested.
When application forms are received, they are reviewed for completeness. Two EDU staff members perform these reviews. If significant information is not provided (e.g., the up-front statement is not signed or questions are left completely blank) the application is returned with a letter requesting that the application be sent back once the missing sections are completed.
Once applications are determined to be complete, the information contained in the application is entered into the ADEPT system. The date that a completed application was received is also noted and a confirmation letter indicating that the application has been received and is being reviewed is sent to the applicant. The confirmation letter provides the date the completed application was received and informs applicant that they can call and use the service if an eligibility determination has not been made within 21 days of that date. The telephone number to call to request service is also provided. To facilitate use of the service by persons whose applications are not processed in 21 days, the EDU staff members also then enter the applicant's name and the date they should be considered eligible (21 days after the application receipt date) into the ADEPT system.
Once information is entered into the ADEPT system, the application forms are forwarded to one of five EDU Certifiers. Each of the five Certifiers handles determination for one of the boroughs. The Certifiers review the information provided in the application form. If an eligibility decision can be made based on the information provided, they will prepare an appropriate determination letter. If the information in the application form is not sufficient to make a final determination, Certifiers might request more information from applicants (through a follow-up phone call). In some cases, this might simply be a phone interview to ask for clarification about information provided in the application. In other cases, it might be a request for documentation/verification of the disability indicated by the applicant. Documentation/verification of disability might be requested, for example, if the applicant indicates a
If documentation/verification of disability is requested, applicants are given 10 days to provide this information. If the documentation is not received within 10 days, the determination is placed in a
If applicants call and indicate that they do not have any documentation beyond what was provided in the application form, NYCT staff indicated that they typically would ask the person to then participate in an in-person assessment. Also, if the information in the application and follow-up information is otherwise still not sufficient to make a final determination, Certifiers can make a decision to ask applicants to participate in in-person interviews and/or functional assessments. NYCT has contracts with three health care/medical centers, which perform the interviews/assessments at five locations and then provide a summary of observations to the Certifiers. One contractor has interview/assessment sites in the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island. A second is located in Brooklyn and the third is located in Queens. These contractors and the boroughs they serve are:
NYCT provides annual ADA Complementary Paratransit eligibility training to assessment site contractor staff. A review of the assessment process is also conducted on-site once each quarter by NYCT.
If a NYCT Certifier decides that an interview and/or assessment are needed, the applicant is contacted and a date and time for an in-person interview/appointment are set. Applicants are given ten days advance notice of an appointment, and provided a voucher for transport to the center by a car service. A confirmation letter giving the day, time and location of the assessment is then sent. NYCT staff members create the schedule of assessments for each contractor and provide the schedules with applicant files in advance of upcoming appointments.
NYCT Certifiers specify for each in-person assessment whether they would like the contractor to only perform an interview or to do both an interview and an assessment. Professionals at each site generally follow these requests, but they have the leeway to do an assessment if, based on the interview, they believe an objective observation of abilities is needed.
Most assessments begin with a short interview. Staff at each assessment center asks each applicant a standard set of questions, contained in a
Each assessment center is also equipped to allow a functional assessment to be performed if requested by NYCT (or if determined appropriate by the assessment center staff). Each assessment center has a mock-up of a bus step-well and entrance and a wheelchair-lift. Physical therapists, occupational therapists, or other similar professionals at each site observe applicants' abilities to climb bus steps, use a bus lift, use a fare box, get to and use a seat, hold onto overhead support rails, use the stop request system, and recognize destination signs. Assessors also observe general mobility as applicants travel the equivalent of about two blocks throughout the assessment center. Gait, balance and endurance are assessed and assessors indicate on the
If applicants fail to appear for a scheduled interview/assessment, they are sent a letter noting that the appointment was missed and that the application has been
A limited number of specific categories of conditional eligibility are granted. Applicants can receive conditional eligibility under one or more of the following categories:
Once a final determination has been made, applicants are sent a letter indicating whether they have been found eligible and the type of eligibility being granted. An
NYCT staff also indicated that in most cases, a decision to deny eligibility is not made without the benefit of an in-person interview/assessment. This allows the NYCT Certifier to have information and observations by the assessment contractor before a decision is made to deny eligibility. In some instances, though, it may be clear from the application form and/or follow-up contacts with an applicant that the individual misunderstood eligible for AAR and it was clear that the person was not eligible. In these cases, eligibility might be denied without an in-person assessment.
If applicants request an appeal based on the written record, the application file along with any additional documentation provided is forwarded to the NYCT Appeals Officer. The Appeals Officer and a staff physician review the record. A decision is then made and the appellant is sent a letter indicating the outcome of the appeal. Because two individuals decide appeals, all decisions are made by consensus. NYCT has a goal of making appeal decisions, based on the written record, within 30 days of the receipt of a request from an applicant.
If an in-person appeal is requested, a date and time is set and the appellant is informed by telephone. In-person appeals are also heard and decided by the Appeals Officer and the staff physician. It is NYCT's goal to hear and decide on in-person appeals within 45 days of the receipt of a request.
Occasionally, applicants who appeal and who did not participate in an in-person interview/assessment as part of the original determination might be asked to participate in an assessment before the appeal is decided. The Appeal Officer and the staff physician will then consider the results of the assessment.
It is also NYCT's policy to not reduce an appellant's level of eligibility as the result of an appeal. If any changes are made to the initial decision, more eligibility rather than less is granted.
All riders are required to be recertified when their eligibility expires (three years from the date eligibility is granted unless temporary eligibility is provided). Riders are sent a notice with a copy of a new application form 60 days before their eligibility is scheduled to expire.Determination Outcomes
According to the
The report also indicated that about 48% of all applicants are referred for an in-person interview and/or assessment. For the eight-month report period, 11,572 applicants were referred for an in-person interview or assessment. Some applicants who are referred decide not to pursue eligibility. During the same period, 9,261 interviews/assessments were performed, which suggests that about 2,311 applicants referred (20%) do not continue with the process once asked to participate in an assessment.
For the eight-month period from January 1 through August 31, 2003, a total of 23,423 eligibility determinations were made. About 54% of these determinations granted full eligibility to applicants. Conditional eligibility was granted 40% of the time. Six percent (6%) of applicants were found not eligible.
From January 1 through August 31, 2003, NYCT received 767 requests for appeals. Twenty-seven (27) appellants had not yet participated in an in-person assessment and were asked to do so as part of the appeal process. In 520 cases (68%), the original determination decision was upheld. About 18% of the time the original decision for conditional eligibility was changed to full eligibility. And in about 14% of the appeals the conditions of eligibility originally granted were modified (in most cases applicants were given additional conditions under which they would also be eligible).Review of Recent Determination Decisions and Process Observations
As part of the on-site assessment, 36 recent determinations where reviewed with NYCT staff. This included 13 determinations that applicants were not eligible and 23 determinations where applicants were found conditionally eligible. Determinations made by each of the five Certifiers were selected for review. In each case, the information in the file - the paper application and the interview/assessment summary - was reviewed. The reasons for the final determination were then discussed with the Certifier who made the decision.
The review found that all 13 of the
The review of selected determinations also indicated that in most of the 23 cases where applicants were given
In a few instances, however, there was some question about the appropriateness of the specific categories of conditional eligibility granted and whether these categories covered all circumstances under which the applicants would not be able to use fixed route transit. In one case, the applicant reported severe arthritis and use of a support cane. An in-person assessment was performed and the report suggested that the applicant could only be expected to travel about one block to get to or from transit stops/stations. The applicant was only granted eligibility for
In a second case, the applicant reported using a cane or walker and sometimes a wheelchair. Use of inaccessible subway stations appeared to be an issue. Conditional eligibility was only granted for trips
NYCT Certifiers noted that some applicants report having variable disabilities and might reasonably be expected to travel by bus or subway on some days but not on days that their disability or health condition caused severe limitations. They noted that the
The handling of applications from children with disabilities was also discussed, since this was an issue specifically raised by advocates and riders contacted prior to the assessment. Certifiers noted that if applicants were less than eight (8) years of age, their ability to use the fixed route system with an accompanying adult is considered. Independent travel ability is only considered when applicants are eight years of age or older. Staff explained that this policy was established to mirror the fixed route policy, which required children less than 48 inches tall to be accompanied by an adult.
The granting of eligibility for a personal care attendant (PCA) was also discussed. Staff at Gramercy Physical Therapy, who were interviewed as part of the assessment indicated that they consider whether or not an applicant might require the assistance of a PCA to perform the tasks needed to use public transit. They then make their recommendation regarding the need for a PCA on this specific need rather than on a broader need for assistance at a destination. Discussions with NYCT Certifiers also indicated that they often would rely on the contractor's observations to make a decision on the need for a PCA. As a result, these decisions may not always consider the need for attendant services at destinations rather than just for actual travel.
Finally, it was observed that eligibility determinations did not appear to always note travel limitations caused by path-of-travel barriers. The
Six recent appeal cases were also reviewed with the Appeal Officer. The information in each file was examined and the appeal decision was discussed. In all six cases, the appeal decisions appeared to be appropriate.Review of Application Processing Times
The USDOT regulations implementing the ADA state that applicants must be treated as eligible if a determination of eligibility cannot be made within 21 days of the receipt of a completed application (49 CFR Part 37.125(c)). Information about the time required to process requests for ADA paratransit eligibility and the handling of cases where the processing time exceeds 21 days was therefore collected.
As noted above, when paper applications are received, NYCT staff review them for completeness. If applications are found to be incomplete they are returned with a letter asking the applicant to provide the missing information and then return the completed application. When applications are determined to be complete, the date they were received is entered into a computer database. At the same time, the applicant is entered into the ADEPT reservations and scheduling database and an
A confirmation letter letting the applicant know that the application has been received and is in process is also sent to the applicant (see Attachment E for a sample letter). The letter indicates the date the application was received and lets the applicant know that if a decision is not made within 21 days he/she can use the service until a decision is made. The phone number to call to request rides is also provided.
If an applicant is required to participate in an in-person interview/assessment, the processing time is
Similarly, if an NYCT Certifier determines that documentation/verification of disability is needed, the applicant will be notified that documentation is needed and the processing time is
NYCT maintains a computer database that includes the key dates in the process. This includes:
Two printouts listing the processing dates for 2,990 determinations completed in August 2003 were generated and reviewed. One printout was for 1,201 determinations that were made
As shown in Table V.1, 64% of all determinations that are made
A review of the sample of 1,789 determinations that did involve an in-person interview/assessment showed that processing times were somewhat longer. As shown in Table V.2 below, about 42% of all determinations were made in 21 days when an in-person interview/assessment was required. Twenty-seven percent of these determinations were made in 22-28 days, 17% took up to 35 days, and 14% took 36 days or more. The longest determination time in this sample took 80 days.
It should also be noted, though, that the reported processing times in Table V.2 do not include the time required to arrange for and conduct the in-person interview/assessment. As noted above, once it is determined that an in-person visit is required, the processing time is
To estimate how much longer it typically takes to arrange for an in-person interview/assessment, the processing time records for a sample of 133 determinations made in August 2003 that involved an interview/assessment were reviewed. The total processing times for these determinations (from dates the applications were recorded as complete to the dates of the final determinations) were compared to the processing times reported by NYCT (that did not include the time required to arrange for and conduct the assessments). This analysis indicated that, on average, an additional 15 days was required. In most cases it appeared that interviews/assessments were arranged and conducted in 7-14 days, but occasionally a longer time was required - probably due to scheduling difficulties on the applicants' end. If the time required to conduct in-person assessments was included in the processing time, it appears that probably only about 10% of determinations would be made in 21 days or less.
49 CFR §37.125(h) of the USDOT's ADA regulations states that transit agencies
A copy of NYCT's
If a suspension is proposed, NYCT sends the rider a letter which details the policy, lists the no-shows and late cancellations by date and trip addresses, and indicates the start and end date of the proposed suspension. The letter also informs riders that they have a right to appeal the proposed suspension. Riders must complete and submit a
As noted in the description in Attachment F, the current policy was adopted on May 15, 2000. NYCT staff noted, however, that it was not enforced for a period of time in 2001 and 2002 because of general service performance issues. The identification of riders with excessive no-shows and late cancellations resumed in March of 2003 and suspensions began again in April of 2003.
While the policy calls for suspensions when there are seven or more no-shows in six months, the actual practice since March of 2003 has been to only propose and enforce suspensions of riders with the worst no-show/late cancellation records. Staff indicated that since February of 2003 a list of the 10 riders with the greatest number of no-shows/late cancellations in the last two months has been generated each month. These riders usually have no-shows or late cancellations on at least 20 separate days in a two-month period. It was also noted that when generating this list staff consider
Staff also indicated that before proposing a suspension, the record of no-shows will be checked against trip records and dispatcher notes to ensure that service performance issues did not cause or contribute to the no-show or late cancellation. It was also noted that staff would sometimes make follow-up calls to riders or professionals who might be working with riders to determine if no-shows or late cancellations were beyond the riders' control. Information collected from these investigations or follow-up contacts will also be used to correct
Records indicated that a total of 81 suspensions have been enforced between March 1, 2003 and the date of the assessment (September 10, 2003). About 70 individual riders have been suspended (a few riders have been suspended multiple times).Findings
The review team collected information about telephone access to NYCT's AAR service for this part of the review. Telephone access for placing or changing trip reservations or checking on the status of a ride is an important part of ADA Complementary Paratransit operations. The inability to get through on the phone to place trip requests without significant delays could discourage people from using the service and could therefore be considered a form of capacity constraint.
The review team conducted the following activities:
At the August 1, 2003 meeting, AAR riders and representatives raised the following concerns related to telephone access:
Neither of the two complaints filed with FTA in 2000 included issues relating to telephone access.
In NYCT's internal complaint tracking system, AAR had a total of 68 complaints classified as
NYCT has established the following service performance standards for AAR service:
The reservationists must respond to an average of 95% of all incoming calls within a maximum of 2 minutes after the call has been answered by the automatic call distribution system (ACD).Access-A-Ride Phone Service Design
NYCT's AAR has one telephone number for all voice communications with the general public (toll free 1-877-337-2017 or 1-646-252-5252). AAR has 11 "T-1" lines, each with a capacity of 24 telephone lines. At the time of the on-site review, AAR's phone system allowed a total of 212 calls to be active in queue (beyond that, the caller would get a busy signal). These lines were available to all AAR and on-site contractor staff, with no allocation among the organizational units. The number of workstations in the various units: 72 for reservations, 50 for transit control, and 12 for eligibility determination, establish the limits of hardware to accept calls. In addition to these workstations, the rest of the AAR staff shares these telephone lines. AAR uses a call management system from Avaya (Version 6, purchased from Lucent Technologies in 1998).
When a caller dials the public number, there is a menu with the following choices:
AAR accepts reservations between 7:00 AM and 5:00 PM every day. The eligibility determination unit accepts calls on weekdays between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM. If the caller presses "1," "2," or "3," when the eligibility or reservations units are not open, the call is forwarded to the transit control unit. Customer information on telephone access and service is provided in the
First Transit staff performs the trip reservations and initial scheduling process at a central office located in NYCT offices at 2 Broadway. A NYCT supervisor oversees the management of this function by the contractor.
The work schedule for the week of September 7-13, 2003 showed that First Transit employed a total of 164 reservationists. Most reservationists (132) were scheduled to work the full period when trip requests were accepted (from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM) four days a week. Seven reservationists worked five-day weeks from 8:00 AM until 5:00 PM and provide additional call-taking capacity at the end of the day. The remaining 16 reservationists worked six-hour part-time shifts, four-days a week: either from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, or 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Table VI.1 below shows the total number of reservationists scheduled by day of the week for the week of September 7-13, 2003. It also shows the number of reservationists scheduled at 7:00 AM, when the reservation lines were opened each morning, and at 5:00 PM, when the reservation line is closed. As shown, 68 reservationists were scheduled for weekend days (with 62-64 available at the beginning and end of the day). On weekdays, between 80 and 116 reservationists are available (with between 63 and 100 on-duty at the beginning and end of the day).
A thorough training program appears to have been established to train new reservationists in the use of the automated reservations and scheduling system and in AAR policies. A training facility with its own dedicated version of the reservations/scheduling system has been set-up to allow new reservationists to practice using the system in a simulated but
The review team collected and reviewed data from AAR's call management system for seven months: February 2003 to August 2003. The review team also made some sample calls to AAR to check on the response time.
Data collected by the call management system includes:
Data is available by the hour and by the day. The system generates data separately for reservation lines and dispatch lines. Table VI.2 presents summary data for AAR's reservations telephone lines. Table VI.3 presents summary data for AAR's Control Center telephone lines.
The review team looked at call-data for individual days and 30-minute periods for these seven months to see if there were time periods that had consistently poorer performance, as well as to determine the reason for the maximum values for answer time. The maximum values for the reservation unit's answer time generally appeared to be exceptions, e.g., AAR reservations unit was short staffed on that particular shift. Overall, the average hold times presented in the daily reports show that the average time to answer - measured in 30-minute periods - is well below AAR's standard of two minutes. This indicates that telephone access is not an impediment to using the AAR service. However, AAR does not collect data to explicitly show AAR's performance relative to its standard, i.e., the 95th percentile for hold times.
The review team made a total of 34 test calls between July 31 and September 7, 2003. These calls included a random sampling by day of week and time of day, between 9 AM and 5 PM, including three calls between 4:30 and 5:00 PM on a weekend day. The time to answer (reach the initial menu) ranged from three to five seconds. Once the call made the menu selection, only two of the 34 calls had hold times greater than 15 seconds (24 seconds at 4:20 PM and 64 seconds at 4:40 PM).Findings
In this portion of the compliance review, the team examined how trip requests from riders were handled. Particular attention was given to whether Access-A-Ride (AAR) uses any form of trip caps or waiting lists and whether there was a pattern or practice of denying a significant number of trip requests. The following information was gathered and analyzed:
Consumer input, as detailed in Section III, was gathered through interviews with representatives of the disabled community, review of a report provided by Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York and AAR complaint records for the first 7 months of 2003.
Reservations issues identified by representatives of the disabled community and the Disabled in Action Report included:
Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York also cited use of standby lists for reservations and trip reservations lost in the system (AAR sometimes has no record of rides scheduled with customers) as issues.Reservations and Scheduling Policies
NYCT standards that guide the reservations and scheduling process include a goal of 0% denials; an
The Access-A-Ride User's Guide advises customers that they can apply for subscription service if they use the service for three or more trips per week. Subscription service is subject to availability limits.Trip Reservations Procedures
Trip requests are accepted from 7:00 AM until 5:00 PM, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Trip requests can be placed from four days in advance until 5:00 PM the afternoon before the day of service. However, AAR defines
As calls are received, reservationists are trained to request and record information and schedule trips as follows:
Consistent with the Reservations Manual, the Access-A-Ride Paratransit Service User's Guide advises rider's requesting trips to have the following information:
The reservationist has three options for scheduling the trip using the
Using the information provided by the caller, the reservationist selects the appropriate scheduling approach.
If the trip is scheduled based on the stated appointment time, the system will look for scheduled pick-up times that will ensure that the rider gets to their destination from 30 minutes before to no later than the appointment time. If the trip is scheduled based on a pick-up time, the system will look for available times that are anywhere from an hour before to an hour after the requested pick-up time. And, if the
Once the above information has been requested, verified and entered, the reservationist clicks on a
If no scheduling options can be identified by the system, a
If trips are placed on
If no scheduling option for a trip request is identified by the system, and if the trip is not placed in
Return trips, or additional legs of trips, are booked in a similar way. Information about origin and destination addresses, phone numbers at each location, cross-street information, and travel times are requested, verified and entered. An appropriate scheduling method (i.e., drop-off, pick-up, or pick-up with earliest departure) is then selected. A scheduling option is then generated and the time offered to the caller.
Once all legs of the trip being requested are scheduled, reservationists call-up a
This additional information is then entered into comment fields attached to the origin and destination of trips.
Finally, after completing the trip booking process and verifying trip information with callers, reservationists are instructed to inform callers
Three assessment team members sat with several different reservationists and observed and recorded the handling of calls on Wednesday afternoon, September 10, and at various times throughout the day on Thursday, September 11. Telephone
All reservationists did appear to closely follow the basic script for booking trips.
The process of verifying information was also observed to be very thorough. In some cases, though, riders were asked to verify so much information in a very short period of time that they did not seem to be fully focusing on the information being given by the reservationist.
Callers did not always appear to be clear on trip time limitations. For example, calls were observed where the rider stated a requested pick-up time but did not indicate that this was the earliest time that they could leave until after a scheduled pick-up time was offered. At that point, because the policy is to only offer one time, the person would be told that they would need to call back.
One call was observed where the rider indicated that the home address in the system was incorrect. The rider indicated that he had moved "a year ago." The reservationist then entered the new home address into the trip-booking screen. The reservationist did not, however, complete a form to ensure that the address was corrected in the rider file (something done only by the Eligibility Determination Unit (EDU). The reservationist also did not tell the caller that they needed to call a different number (the EDU number) to make the address change. This rider's home address was then looked-up with the help of a supervisor the following day and it appeared to still be the old incorrect address.Handling of Trip Requests
NYCT tracks each trip request through to its ultimate disposition. Table VII.1 Presents the number of trips scheduled and denied each month from January 2001 through June 2003.
As can be seen in the table, NYCT reports a large reduction in the number of trip denials in April of 2003, with zero denials during the month of June. During the previous periods denials ranged from 445, or 0.2% of scheduled trips, in January 2001 to 3,523, or 1.7% of scheduled trips in October of 2003.
For the month of May NYC reported 272,480 trip requests. Of this number they reported 2 denials, 6,515 (2.4%) customer refusals, and 17,370 (6.4%) early cancellations, leaving 248,593 (91%) of requested trips scheduled.
For a more detailed review of the results of the reservations process the review team focused on reported data for one day, May 15, 2003. The disposition of trip requests for that day is presented in Table VII.2
Although no trip denials were recorded for the sample day, of the 277 customer refusals, 24 (8.7%) were for trip offers that were between 61 and 65 minutes after the requested trip times. These offers of pick-up times more than one hour from the requested time are denials of service. Early cancellations are customer cancellations made before 5:00 PM on the day before service. Early taxi vouchers are authorizations given the day before service for customers to use taxis and be reimbursed by NYCT. On May 15 of the 11,576 trip requests, 10,037 were scheduled for the operators and 28 were authorized taxi vouchers.
The review team also looked at all trip offers for requested pick-up times on May 15, 2003. Of 5,278 requests for pick-up times, 108 (2%) were offered trips that were between 61 and 65 minutes after the requested trip times. This number includes the trip refusals discussed above.
As part of the observation of the reservations process, assessment team members recorded the handling of a total of 151 trip requests. Table VII.3 below summarizes these observations. As shown, no trip requests were denied due to an inability to identify pick-up times within an hour of the requested times. It is also important to note that most trip requests (44%) were placed only one day in advance and only 10% were placed a full four days in advance. This suggests that riders do not feel that they need to call as far ahead as possible to schedule trips.
A total of 19 trip requests (13%) were not accepted by riders and were recorded as refusals. This observation was somewhat different than the call handling statistics reported by NYCT. NYCT
In this portion of the compliance review, the team examined how trip requests from riders were handled. Particular attention was given to whether Access-A-Ride (AAR) uses any form of trip caps or waiting lists and whether there was a pattern or practice of denying a significant number of trip requests. The following information was gathered and analyzed:
Consumer input, as detailed in Section III, was gathered through interviews with representatives of the disabled community, review of a report provided by Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York and AAR complaint records for the first 7 months of 2003.
Reservations issues identified by representatives of the disabled community and the Disabled in Action Report and a review of complaints on file with AAR included:
The Disabled in Action Report also raised issue with the use of standby lists for reservations; and limits on schedule for return trips (customers must allow 1.5 hour from a pick-up for a going trip to a pick-up for a return trip within borough, and 2.5 hours between boroughs).Reservations and Scheduling Policies
NYCT standards that guide the scheduling process include a goal of 0% denials; an
It is currently NYCT 's policy to limit scheduling trips as standing order or subscription trips only for customers who make the same trip (between the same origin and destination at the same time and day(s)) at least three times a week. NYCT plans to revise this policy to include trips that are made once a week or more.Scheduling Department Staffing
The day-to-day responsibility for scheduling AAR trips is handled by a private contractor, First Transit. The First Transit schedulers are co-located with NYCT staff at 2 Broadway in Manhattan. NYCT employs three scheduling managers and a scheduling director to manage the Scheduling and Subscription Units of First Transit (see Figure VIII.1). As will be described in the following section, the NYCT scheduling director and managers also work closely with the eight contract carriers to assist with any scheduling-related issues. The NYCT scheduling director reports to the command center officer, who also oversees the reservations and Control Unit (dispatch) functions for NYCT.
The First Transit Scheduling Unit is responsible for overseeing the development of schedules using ADEPT software. The Scheduling Unit includes:
All 10 schedulers work Monday through Thursday, 6 work Friday, 5 work Saturday, and 4 work Sunday. Both the scheduling supervisor and scheduling manager work Tuesday through Thursday and one or the other is on duty Friday through Monday. As shown in Table VIII.2, coverage is generally provided from 8:30 or 9:00 AM until 6:30 or 7:00 PM, depending on the day.
The Subscription Unit is responsible for working with individual and agency-related subscription (standing order) trips, which are provided on an ongoing basis. The Subscription Unit includes:
Table VIII.2 shows the scheduler positions and shift coverage of the First Transit Scheduling and Subscription Units.
Figure VIII.1 NYCT Scheduling Management Unit
Figure VIII.2 First Transit Work Schedule: Scheduling and Subscription Units
First Transit Scheduling Unit
As described in the Reservations Section of this report, First Transit reservations staff members, using the StrataGen ADEPT paratransit scheduling and dispatching software, schedule most trip requests. First Transit schedulers, on an on-going basis, review trip reservations and the Scheduling Unit schedules trips that were put on the standby list.
Each day, half the schedulers work on finalizing schedules for the following day, while the other half work on scheduling trips that will be made from two to four days into the future. Each day schedulers are assigned to work on schedules for a particular carrier or carriers, but will be assigned different carriers on different days.
During a typical day, a variety of reports are used to manage the scheduling process. For example, several times a day a
Another report is the
Throughout the day, schedulers work on trips that have been left on the stand-by list (the trips that will be provided, but were not scheduled during the call to the reservations staff). When standby trips have to be forced into the schedule manually, the schedulers allow for 60 minutes for intra-borough trips and 90 minutes for inter-borough trips.
Once a trip is scheduled, a scheduling assistant calls the customer to confirm the trip. On September 16, 2003, during the site visit, there were 58 trips that had to be manually scheduled with callbacks for the next day (more than 10,000 trips were scheduled for that day). When a customer is contacted either via telephone or voice mail to confirm the trip, it is recorded in the trip history file. If a customer is not reached and there is no voice mail, additional attempts will be made throughout the day. Passengers are instructed to call if they have not heard back to confirm the trip. Schedulers indicated that they are unsuccessful in contacting only a few passengers. If a passenger cannot be reached, the trip is still scheduled.
During the month of May 2003, 248,593 trips were scheduled. The number scheduled per day ranged from 2,499 on May 26, to 10,535 on a weekday. For a sample day, May 15, 10,065 trips were scheduled and an additional 28 (0.3%) customers were authorized to use taxi vouchers.
Each day at noon the trips are
During the afternoon, the schedulers are actively working to refine the schedules, particularly for the following day. Lunch breaks for drivers are added (or removed if a route is less than six hours). Standby trips continue to be reviewed and scheduled (or given to taxi or black car service). Schedulers have the ability to open carrier parameters to insert trips if they believe they will fit into the schedule without adversely affecting other passenger trips. They can also assign trips to a route that has slack time even if the carrier is not the first-choice for a particular zone (as determined by the affinity settings for each route). If during the schedule clean up any changes have been made to a person's promised pick-up time, particularly if it is moved earlier, the scheduling assistant calls the customer to verify that the customer accepts the change.
After there are no more calls from customers in the queue for reservations - between 5:00 and 5:30 PM - final edits are made to the schedules. The
First Transit creates a
Operators are allowed to change the schedules if they see problems and based on assignments and events throughout the day of service. Operators can reassign trips, make adjustments, and reassign entire routes, but they may not change the passengers' promised times. As described in the operator descriptions, some carriers make more changes than others before the manifests are printed and distributed to drivers. Some operators rely on their dispatchers to make changes in real-time during the day.
The scheduling process results in a driver manifest for each route. The manifests are produced on 11"x 17" computer printouts. Included on the manifests are identification of the service provider, route and vehicle numbers and driver identification number. Additionally, the manifest has the service day and the beginning and end time of the driver's shift. For each passenger trip there is a trip number and scheduled and estimated pick-up and drop-off times as well as appointment times, when applicable. Pick-up and drop-off locations, as well as any special instructions are included on the manifests. The manifests also include customer's names, identification of personal care attendants (PCA), guests, customer's mobility aids, and fares. The manifests also include spaces for recording time of trip and odometer readings as well as cancellations, no shows and late trips. There appears to be no provision for recording missed trips on the manifests. A sample manifest is included in Attachment M.
First Transit Subscription Unit
The Subscription Unit handles all requests for subscription trips. A letter describing the subscription process is provided to passengers who would like to set up a subscription trip. A subscription request form is completed that details the travel needs of the customer. At the time of the review, subscription trips accounted for about 16% of all trips and were only allowed for passengers traveling to/from the same origin/destination pair at the same times at least three times a week.
Subscription trips are not usually anchored to a particular route unless there have been complaints about the way a trip has been performed or the customers have special needs that are better served by anchoring the subscription trips to the same route. Anchored trips may shift to different routes during optimization. The promised times are retained. There are only a few group trips where several people travel together from the same origin, or to the same destination. This fall, NYCT plans to relax the requirements to allow subscription trips to be established for repetitive trips that occur at least once a week (e.g., every Monday at 1:00 PM with a return trip at 5:00 PM).
In December 2002, NYCT set up a system for providing black car vouchers for some passengers who have standing order reservations for appointments at the Veterans Administration hospitals located in the Bronx and Brooklyn. This practice has been done to provide service for passengers returning home from dialysis. Uncertainty as to when these passengers will be able to begin their trip can cause scheduling problems requiring dispatch of a vehicle for a passenger who was not ready to be transported at their scheduled return time.
NYCT Scheduling Management Unit
NYCT provides management, quality control, and oversight to the First Transit reservations, scheduling and command center functions. The NYCT scheduling director reports to the command center officer. He, along with three scheduling managers, are responsible for overseeing the performance of First Transit and for managing issues related to scheduling at each of the eight carriers. The director's specific duties include overall management of the Scheduling Unit, as well as monitoring the master route history. He also oversees schedule development and execution for TFM and MV Transit. He has been working closely with MV, a relatively new carrier, to improve that carrier's performance.
The three managers report to the director of scheduling and have specific duties. One is assigned to oversee the development of holiday schedules, billing resolution, daily scorecard reporting of carriers, managing the Subscription Unit, and monitoring schedules for RJR and PTC. The other two managers are responsible for managing the First Transit Scheduling Unit. One also monitors schedules for Atlantic Paratransit and Maggies; the other monitors schedules for American Transit and Star Cruiser.
The NYCT Scheduling Management Unit troubleshoots when problems arise with either the scheduling function or the carriers. For example, if a carrier is having difficulties with particular schedules, the NYCT manager will work with the carrier and First Transit to identify the source of the problem and resolve it. They are also responsible for identifying various ways to improve service.Scheduling Observations
Two members of the review team met with the command center officer and the NYCT scheduling director to discuss the functioning of the scheduling personnel employed by NYCT and First Transit. One member of the review team observed the scheduling staff while they worked on September 16, 2003 and met with the First Transit scheduling manager. It appeared that the First Transit staff worked together as a team in their assigned roles. Reports were routed, schedules reviewed and modified, and calls were being made to update customers with respect to their trip status. That day a record for the number of trips scheduled was set - 10,814.
In February 2002, NYCT began phasing in an updated computer-assisted paratransit scheduling and dispatching system, moving from the PASS system to StrataGen's ADEPT software program. The first implementation phase (from 2/1/02 to 5/1/02) centered on transitioning from PASS to ADEPT. The implementation of the second phase, on 2/24/03 resulted in additional computer program modifications designed to make the AAR system route trips more efficiently and effectively. The time line for these changes is described below:
Several parameters have been adjusted to attempt to improve how trips are assigned by the automated system. One approach has been the use of affinity settings described above), which anchor carrier routes to a particular home zone or zones. A matrix imbedded in ADEPT assigns routes to the carriers' home zones first, but may assign trips to a route outside the home zone if needed (and as permitted by the affinity settings). The home zone preference is accomplished by assigning a weight to routes depending upon the trip origin. The routes operated in the zone of the trip origin receive a favorable weight whereas those operated in a distant zone receive an unfavorable weight. According to NYCT and its operators use of the affinity factor has resulted in much more efficient assignment of trips to routes. The nine zones used by the affinity factor are shown on a map included in Attachment N. The zones are:
In order to more accurately calculate route times, on-street ride checks are performed to determine actual travel times. Adjustments are made to system speeds used by the scheduling software on an on-going basis based upon the ride checks. In addition, NYCT has established travel times for approximately 10 problematic areas, typically river crossings. Different times are used for direction of travel and for time of day using six time periods. These speed zones, which have been input into the scheduling parameters, were developed to address widely divergent travel times by time of day and direction of travel in some areas. Subscription trips have been run through the ride check program as well and some adjustments were made to reflect the updated information.
Another approach to improving scheduling has been the development of
NYCT also sets parameters in the schedule that limit the trip duration based upon distance traveled as described in NYCT policies. Another feature built into the software is use of a -5/+20 minute window for scheduling trips rather than the -5/+25 NYCT standard. The additional five-minute cushion built into the schedule should assist in achieving better on-time performance.
NYCT managers indicated that the number of routes scheduled each day is based upon historical experience for the particular day of the week. New routes are added when the NYCT Scheduling Management Department identifies the need for more service in a particular area. Some service increases have been accomplished with existing vehicles with added hours; others require additional vehicles and personnel. In March 2003, as part of the effort to eliminate trip denials, NYCT reports that it added a large number of new routes. The NYCT scheduling staff works with carriers to make these changes as needed.Findings
The DOT ADA regulations for ADA Complementary Paratransit service indicate that capacity constraints can result from poor service quality. Specifically, they note that missed trips or the provision of untimely trips or significantly long rides can constitute capacity constraints. On-time performance and on-board ride times were therefore examined as part of the review. In addition, this section of the report addresses delivery of transportation service and dispatch operations to identify procedures and practices that could affect service delivery. These aspects of service provision were assessed as follows:
Consumer input, as detailed in Section III, was gathered through interviews with representatives of the disabled community, review of a report provided by Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York and AAR complaint records for the first 7 months of 2003.
Transportation issues identified by representatives of the disabled community and the Disabled in Action Report and a review of complaints on file with AAR included:
The Disabled in Action Report also raised the following additional transportation related issues:
On-Time Performance Policies and Standards
NYCT has a performance goal of 95% for on-time AAR pickups. This goal is included in the operator's contracts as a performance standard (article 104 C.2.).
The Access-A-Ride Paratransit User's Guide advises customers to be ready to travel from five minutes before until 25 minutes after the scheduled pick-up time. The Guide also indicates that the driver will leave after five minutes if the customer is not at the pick-up location. The User's Guide advises customers to cancel trips before 5:00 PM on the day before service and advises customers that a cancellation after that time will be considered a late cancellation.
The User's Guide further instructs customers to call AAR if the vehicle does not arrive within the 30-minute window. The AAR transit control officer will obtain the estimated time of arrival from the driver to which the trip is assigned, or will dispatch another vehicle and advise the customer of the newly estimated arrival time. If a vehicle did not arrive within the 30-minute pick-up window and is not readily available at the time of the customer's call, the customer can request authorization to use a taxicab or car service with the expense to be reimbursed by NYCT. Authorization is confirmed by AAR transit control officer issuance of an authorization number.
AAR's contracts with the operators provide definitions for the following performance measures:
Regarding trip duration, NYCT's goal is to schedule 100% of the trips using the following travel time standards:
Each of the eight operators provides service throughout the service area, New York City. Through the scheduling process, passenger trips are assigned to routes based upon nine service zones (see Attachment N). Similarly, routes are assigned to carriers to concentrate carrier operations within geographic areas to promote efficient delivery of service.
The operators entered into five-year contracts during August 2001. Several of the operators were providing AAR service through earlier contracts. NYCT is in the process of purchasing fuel in bulk and making it available to the operators at lower cost than direct purchases. Operators are reimbursed for their direct cost of fuel by NYCT.
The review team interviewed the Project Managers for each of the eight operators. The results of the interviews are reported as follows:A. Dispatching
Access-A-Ride Command Center
Customer calls for same day travel information are directed to the AAR Command Center at 2 Broadway in Manhattan. The Command Center is staffed and managed by First Transit under a contract to NYCT. NYCT staff oversees the Command Center Operation. Command Center staff is responsible for:
Reviewers observed three call takers and general operations in the Control Unit during the morning and afternoon on September 11. Reviewers observed transit control officers handle 55 calls. Calls observed are summarized in Table IX.1
Late Cancellations - The control officers were observed coding the trip as a late cancel, requesting the customer's reason for canceling the trip and entering the reason into the trip record. In one instance the customer called while the driver was at the pick-up location. The control officer contacted the operator's dispatcher and the dispatcher indicated that he would code the trip as a no-fault no-show. According to one of the control officers the procedure is to telephone the operators dispatcher if the no-show has been received close to the scheduled pick-up time so that the driver can be redeployed. Other than this one instance none of the cancellations observed at the Control Center appeared to be within an hour and a half of the scheduled pick-up time. One customer, who had both a same day and future trip cancellation, was transferred to reservations to make his future day cancellation, after completing his same day cancellation. [back to Table IX.1 - Command Center Observations]
Ride Checks - When customers called to check on the status of their ride, the control officer would review the status of the ride in the scheduling dispatch system. If the system indicated that the ride was on time and the call time was before the pick-up window had elapsed generally the control officer would indicate that the ride was on time and, when appropriate, remind the customer of the pick-up window. 19 of the 25 ride-check observations fell into this category. If the route appeared to be running late, the control officer would place the customer on hold and contact the operator's dispatcher to obtain the current status of the route and estimated time of arrival of the vehicle. Six of the twenty-five ride check observations were for routes that were running late. The six calls to dispatchers to get current estimated arrival times took from one to four minutes to complete. [back to Table IX.1 - Command Center Observations]
Route Extensions and New Route Additions - The practice observed for opening route extensions or new routes was observed as follows. If a dispatcher for the contract carrier observes one or more routes running late and has been unable to use lag time on the route or reassignment of trips to other routes to restore on-time performance within a short period (one hour +/-), the dispatcher may request a route extension or new route to rescue customers and the service. (A route extension is an extension of the time an active route is authorized by NYCT to continue in service. A new route is initiation of service on a new route beyond those previously authorized for the service day.) The dispatcher makes the request to a transit control officer in the call center. The transit control officer completes a form for the route authorization and reassigns the passenger trips to be moved to an open or dummy route. The request form is then referred to a supervisor for review and authorization. The supervisor reviews the status of the late routes on the scheduling and dispatch software to confirm that they are running late and avoid authorization of service that is not needed. If the route is not running late in the system the supervisor will not authorize moving passenger trips and associated new routes or route extensions. The review team observed a Command Center supervisor while she reviewed and authorized one of the four requests from operators to increase service. Initially she approved a new route for only two of the three trips requested because the route for the third trip did not appear to be running late. The reason for reassigning the third trip was to permit a driver to end his route early thereby resulting in no net additional vehicle hours to the operator. Because the reason for the request was not clear the supervisor initially declined authorization but changed her decision upon clearer presentation of the reason. Based on observations of operator dispatchers they will often request authorization to reassign trips before the route appears to be running late in the system. They will do so based upon tight travel time allowances for the route, traffic conditions, and driver's experience and ability to recover from delays. Because of the time required to authorize increased service and the urgency of dispatching vehicles to avoid further service delay, several operators indicated that they will dispatch drivers before authorized, even at risk that they will not receive authorization and will not be reimbursed for the additional service.
NYCT indicated that it plans to improve coordination between the Control Center and Operator dispatchers by assignment of a dispatcher from each operator to the Control Center. The proposed change in dispatch operations was scheduled for late September and early October. [back to Table IX.1 - Command Center Observations]
Missed Trip - One customer called to report a missed trip. She made the trip on her own. The trip record contained an incorrect address and no phone number for the pick-up location. [back to Table IX.1 - Command Center Observations]
Wrong Department - Three calls were identified as being for the wrong department. One, for trip reservations was transferred. Two were from the same caller who had a same-day trip issue. The cause of the problem appeared to be incorrect or incomplete information provided by the Eligibility Department. The caller was referred back and forth between the two departments until the control officer referred the issue to a supervisor. The customer, who was applying for eligibility, lives out side of the AAR service area. He was scheduled by the Eligibility Department for an in-person assessment and, apparently through a form letter, directed to reserve a trip with a black car service, which only operates within the AAR service area. NYCT personnel rescheduled his appointment and instructed him on how to obtain a ride on accessible service to a transfer point with the AAR service provider. An internal e-mail indicated that this is an on-going problem. It wasn't clear that the systemic problem was corrected by providing different form letters for service applicants who live outside of the service area or by some other means. [back to Table IX.1 - Command Center Observations]
Wrong Customer Identification Number - In one instance a customer called and indicated a driver was there to pick-up a customer with a different name who was going to the same destination at the same time as she was. No trip record could be found for the caller and the driver left the location. Apparently the trip had been booked under the wrong ID number and as a result the customer did not receive her trip and the trip was recorded as a no-show for the customer whose ID number was used. [back to Table IX.1 - Command Center Observations]
Schedule Change Requests - Five calls were observed in which customers were seeking same day changes in their scheduled trips. In one instance, a customer who had a 2:41 PM scheduled pick-up requested a pick-up as soon as possible at 10:00 AM because she was not feeling well. In an effort to accommodate this same day request for a change in her trip the control officer telephoned several carriers, including back-up carriers before one would accept the trip. The carrier who accepted the trip scheduled the pick-up for 10:30 AM.
Another caller indicated that they would be unable to meet their pick-up time because the doctor was delayed. The control officer indicated that the procedure was to not accept request for later pick-up times more than one-hour before the scheduled pick-up time. Because the request was made more than one hour in advance, the caller was requested to call back later. The trip was not changed in the trip record. As a result the operator was not informed that the trip was no longer needed and therefore was unable to use that driver to complete another trip. Additionally, the customer was required to make at least one more call to reschedule their trip. [back to Table IX.1 - Command Center Observations]
Atlantic Paratrans - Between nine and ten dispatchers were on duty on the afternoon of Monday, September 15. Each dispatcher was managing about 20-22 runs. Some time was spent observing the procedures used by each to manage runs. Most dispatchers were observed polling drivers frequently to check on the status of pick-ups and drop-offs. Actual times were then entered into the automated system to allow estimated pick-up and drop-off times to be updated. These dispatchers were also identifying trips that were potentially late and were moving trips to other available runs. The Dispatch Supervisor on duty was also observed facilitating reassignment of passenger trips between dispatchers. He would periodically ask if anyone had trips that they couldn't handle and would then find another dispatcher with routes with slack time.
Two dispatchers, however, appeared to be somewhat behind in managing assigned routes. One dispatcher was observed polling for and entering actual times for 12:00-1:00 PM pick-ups at 2:50 PM. The other dispatcher had several runs behind schedule (some by up to 65 minutes), but appeared to be slow to reassign trips or seek the assistance of the Dispatch Supervisor. On one run that was 65 minutes behind schedule, she stated that,
Dispatchers and drivers appeared to handle customer
Several early arrivals and early
Dispatchers noted that between 3:00 and 5:00 PM the automated system slowed down. When dispatchers would attempt to add actual pick-up times, the system would take about 20 seconds to process the information and update subsequent times. During this time, dispatchers were not able to move to other screens or scan other runs. Several dispatchers indicated that the system does slow regularly and noted that when things are busy and every second counts, this delay in updating runs can have an impact on efficiency of dispatching and, in turn, on-time performance. One dispatcher noted that when slowdowns occur, he tends to put-off updating runs so that his ability to scan runs and perform other tasks is not affected.
In general, the dispatch operation appeared to be well organized and managed given its size. There was some variation in apparent dispatcher skill (which is not unusual for a large operation).
Based on a work schedule for the week of September 14-20, 2003, Atlantic Paratrans employed 19 dispatchers, three Assistant Operations Managers and eight Dispatch Supervisors who worked directly on the dispatch and driver pull-out/pull-in functions. Dispatcher schedules are shown in Table IX.3 below.
Two Assistant Operations Managers work morning shifts from between 4:00 AM to between 1:00-2:00 PM. The third Assistant Operations Manager works from 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM. Two managers work Sunday shifts, but none are scheduled on Saturday.
Five of the Dispatch Supervisors work morning and early afternoon shifts beginning between 4:00 AM and 6:00 AM and running through 3:00 PM. Three morning Dispatch Supervisors work Saturday mornings and one works Sunday mornings. One Dispatch Supervisor is then scheduled from 2:00 PM to the close of the operating day all seven days a week.
Table IX.3 - Atlantic Paratrans Dispatch Staffing, Based on September 14-20, 2003 Work Schedule
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Weekday morning dispatchers begin reporting at 4:30 AM. By 6:00 AM, eight dispatchers are on duty and by 7:15 AM, 10 dispatchers are on duty. Six afternoon/evening dispatchers report between 12:00 noon and 2:00 PM and work until between 9:00 and 11:00 PM. During the afternoon peak period (3:00-5:00 PM), six to eight dispatchers are on duty. On Saturdays and Sundays, there are five dispatchers during the morning, six to seven during the mid-day, five through the afternoon peak and two to four dispatchers during the later evening hours.
Given that there are about 185 peak-hour runs on weekday mornings, each dispatcher typically manages about 19-20 runs during the peak.
Maggie's Paratransit (Maggie's) - The Maggie's operations center has eight phone lines that come in to a call distribution system. Callers are asked to indicate which extension (or functional area) they are trying to reach and calls are then directed to those lines. Calls to Dispatch are directed to the next available dispatcher. Dispatcher workstations are arranged in a single room, which allows calls to easily be directed to the dispatcher handling the route (or rider) in question. Given the number of Dispatch workstations, the number of incoming lines appeared adequate to handle expected call volumes.
The morning Dispatch Supervisor indicated that he (or another lead dispatcher) reviews all assigned runs first thing in the morning. Adjustments are made as needed and final manifests are then printed out for drivers. He estimated that some adjustment is made to
The Dispatch Supervisor indicated that the formal procedure for requesting and getting approval for
On the morning that the operation was observed, all six morning dispatchers were on duty. Each dispatcher was handling between 12-14 runs. It did not appear that drivers were reporting each pick-up and drop-off as they occurred. Instead, dispatchers were polling drivers periodically to get information on pick-ups and drop-offs. Several dispatchers indicated that they tried to poll each run at least once every 45-60 minutes. Additional attention would then be given to runs that were identified as being behind or drivers who needed assistance.
Maggie's dispatchers appeared to have very good control of all runs. The dispatch room appeared calm and "under control" throughout the morning. All dispatchers appeared to know the status of each run he or she was managing. Several passenger trips that were running slightly behind schedule were reassigned in a timely way. A few runs were observed to be running 10-20 minutes behind the scheduled time, but all appeared to be running at least within the pick-up window.
Reviewers observed that the StrataGen system shows trips to be running
The Maggie's dispatchers indicated that in Queens there are many roads that have similar names. The Forest Hills section of Queens was called-up on a map on one of the workstations and dispatchers showed that there were three street segments marked with
Dispatchers noted that Nextel coverage on Staten Island could also be a problem sometimes. They also noted that some drivers are not familiar with all parts of Staten Island and that if radio coverage becomes a problem they may not be able to reach the dispatch center for assistance.
Reviewers observed the handling of three no-shows. In all cases, dispatchers followed a standard routine of asking the drivers for the time they arrived at the pick-up location. They then checked that time against the promised pick-up time and the 25-minute pick-up window. Dispatchers attempted to reach the customers by phone in each case. In one case, the promised pick-up time was 8:22 AM and the driver radioed-in at 8:24 AM. The driver indicated that they had arrived at 8:02 and had waited for 22 minutes (to be seven minutes inside the pick-up window). The dispatcher called the customer's home number and the person who answered indicated that the rider was not going that day. The dispatcher then authorized the driver to no-show the customer and to proceed. In the second case, the promised time was 9:10 AM and the driver radioed-in at 9:20 AM. The driver reported that he had arrived at 9:12 AM and had waited for eight minutes within the window. The dispatcher attempted to call the customer but found that the number provided had been disconnected. The dispatcher then authorized the driver to no-show the customer and to proceed. In the final case, the driver arrived at 9:24 AM for a 9:05 AM promised pick-up. The driver went to the door and was informed that the rider had left
One instance of an early arrival for a pick-up was also observed. In this case, the driver arrived at 7:14 AM for a 7:28 promised pick-up time. The driver requested that the dispatcher call the customer to see if they were ready, which the dispatcher did. The rider indicated that they were not ready and would be out
As with other providers, there appeared to be some misinterpretation of the schedules. Two times appear on the manifests, the time promised to, or negotiated with, the customer, and the scheduled time, which is the time that the driver is actually expected to arrive at the pick-up location as estimated by the scheduling software. As dispatchers were discussing assigned runs for the day and talking about runs that appeared to be too tight, they mentioned that runs had promised times that were only a few minutes apart. They would then indicate that there was no way that the driver could get to both locations in the time allowed. When it was pointed out that the scheduled times appeared to allow more appropriate times between pick-ups, they would acknowledge this, but would indicate that they manage runs based on the promised times. A few of the dispatchers indicated that they do not like to
Based on the work schedule that was effective for the week of August 18-24, 2003, Maggie's employs 10 full-time dispatchers and one part-time weekend dispatcher. Dispatcher work shifts are shown in Table IX.4 below. There are six weekday morning dispatchers that have staggered work shifts starting between 4:30 AM and 9:30 AM. Before 6:00 AM on weekdays, there are two morning dispatchers. A third dispatcher reports at 6:00 AM and a fourth reports at 6:30 AM. By 9:00 AM there are between four and six dispatchers scheduled each weekday. Three of the morning dispatchers work four-day weeks and have shifts that extend until 5:00 to 7:00 PM.
Three afternoon dispatchers, with staggered shifts that begin between 12:00 Noon and 1:30 PM, replace the three morning dispatchers. This enables six to eight dispatchers to be available weekdays at 1:00 PM and five to six dispatchers to be available up to 5:00 PM. The number of dispatchers is reduced by one each hour between 5:00 and 7:00 PM. Two to three dispatchers are available at 8:00 PM, one to two at 9:00 PM and one dispatcher is then available at 10:00 PM. No Dispatch coverage is provided after 10:00 PM on weekdays.
On weekends, there are only two dispatchers. One works a 6:00 AM to 4:30 PM shift and the second reports at Noon and works until 10:00 PM. As a result there is only one dispatcher on duty for most hours of the day on weekends with the exception of the mid-day (Noon to 4:30 PM) when the shift overlap allows both to be on duty.
Table IX.4 - Maggie's Dispatch Staffing Based on August 18-24, 2003 Work Schedule
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MV Transportation (MV) - The manager noted that there are nine total phone lines and that five lines are dedicated to the dispatch function. If all five lines are in use, callers get a busy signal. In the past, if dispatch lines were busy they were directed to voice mail. The manager indicated that the use of voice mail was a problem and that the voice mail was eliminated.
MV managers indicated that the night dispatchers are assigned the job of reviewing route schedules received from First Transit. This staff either moves trips between runs or highlights trips and runs that appear tight and will need to be watched. The manager noted that having the night dispatchers do this did not always work well, though, as they were sometimes unable to focus enough attention on the task. He indicated that MV was reconsidering this approach to reviewing and revising routes.
MV drivers did not appear to radio-in each pick-up and drop-off. Instead, dispatchers were observed periodically polling drivers for actual pick-up and drop-off times. Observations of MV dispatch on Friday afternoon, September 12, 2003, between 3:00 and 5:00 PM indicated that dispatchers were somewhat behind on polling drivers. They appeared to be focused primarily on getting pull-out mileage and times from drivers. Even though several runs on the dispatch screen appeared to be running behind (highlighted in red), little attention appeared to be given to determining the exact status of those runs, moving trips between runs, requesting rescue routes or route extensions, or otherwise managing runs. At 4:45 PM, during the afternoon peak period, dispatchers appeared to be 60-90 minutes behind on polling drivers for actual times.
On a second visit (Wednesday afternoon, September 17, 2003, between 3:00 and 5:30 PM), dispatchers were paying more attention to managing runs, but reviewers observed several service problems that were causing a number of routes to run late. One breakdown (Bus 922/Route 272) and one accident (Bus 83/Route 133) were reported by radio during the two and a half hours on-site. Dispatchers also noted that there had been a breakdown in the morning as well and that some morning runs scheduled to be back at 3:18 PM were running late and causing afternoon pull-outs to be delayed. Trips on at least three runs on one dispatcher's screen (of the 20 runs being managed) were running 50-60 minutes late.
Reviewers also observed the handling of three no-shows. In two instances, the AAR procedures were followed, but in one case, the no-show was reported and entered after the vehicle had left the pick-up location and it appeared that the driver had only waited three minutes for the customer, rather than the five minutes required by the procedures. In one case, the driver reported arriving at 4:10 for a 4:00 PM promised pick-up. The driver radioed-in at 4:25 PM and the dispatcher attempted to call the rider (with no success). The trip was authorized as a no-show at 4:27 PM and the dispatcher requested a landmark from the driver. In a second case, the driver reported arriving at 4:25 PM for a 4:20 PM promised pick-up. The driver radioed-in just before 4:45 PM and the dispatcher authorized a no-show at 4:45 PM after not being able to contact the rider by phone and after recording a landmark. In the third instance, however, the driver reported a no-show while being polled by the dispatcher about the status of the run. The driver simply reported the time he had arrived and the time he had left and the dispatcher entered this into the system. The trip had a promised time of 4:05 PM, and the driver reported arriving at 4:20 PM and departing at 4:23 PM.
According to the work schedule in effect at the time of the visit, MV employs 13 dispatchers and four Dispatch Assistants. The Dispatch Assistants check drivers in and out and are the first point of contact for all calls to the dispatch center. As calls are received they will either look up the status of the trip using a computer workstation located in the driver check-in area or will transfer the call to the dispatcher handling the run to which that trip has been assigned. Dispatchers manage runs and assist drivers as needed. Table IX.5 below shows the work schedules for dispatchers and Dispatch Assistants.
Four or five morning dispatchers report between 5:45 and 6:45 AM on weekdays. One additional dispatcher reports at 12:30 PM to assist with covering lunch breaks. Two to three afternoon dispatchers report between 2:00 and 2:30 PM to replace the morning dispatchers. Two or three evening dispatchers report between 9:00 and 11:00 PM and work through the night.
During weekday morning peak hours, MV has four to five dispatchers on duty. Only three to four dispatchers are on duty, however, during the afternoon peak (3:00 to 5:00 PM). With about 85 peak hour runs, this then suggests that each dispatcher is managing between 17 and 21 runs in the morning and 21 to 28 runs in the afternoon.
On Saturdays, only one dispatcher is scheduled between 7:30 and 9:00 AM. This increases to two dispatchers at 9:00 AM, to three dispatchers at 1:00 PM and to four dispatchers at 3:00 PM. Four dispatchers remain on duty until 5:30 PM, three remain on duty until 10:30 PM and two are then scheduled to work through the night.
On Sundays, two to three dispatchers are scheduled between 6:00 and 7:30 AM, three are on duty from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM, four dispatchers are scheduled from 1-2:30 PM and then three dispatchers remain on duty throughout the evening. Overnight, two dispatchers are scheduled.
Table IX.5 - MV Transportation Dispatch Staffing Based on September 11, 2003
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One assistant dispatcher is scheduled in the early morning on weekdays to cover morning pull-out. An afternoon assistant dispatcher starts work at 12:00 noon and the overnight assistant dispatcher reports at 8:30 PM. On Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, a second afternoon assistant dispatcher reports at 1:00 PM to help with afternoon pull-ins and pull-outs.
On weekends, only one assistant dispatcher is scheduled (from 6:00 PM to 2:30 AM). For the rest of the days, other staff must cover the front desk, check drivers in and out and handle ride status and other calls. Given that regular dispatch staff levels are already low on Saturday mornings, it appears that MV may also be low on the total number of dispatchers/assistant dispatch staff at some times on the weekends.
PTM Management (PT) - PT dispatchers are assigned approximately 17 to 20 routes. A review team member observed the PT dispatchers from 6:50 to 8:30 AM on Monday, September 15, 2003. Dispatchers monitor service using the scheduling software. Dispatchers check the driver's location relative to their route schedule every 30 minutes and enter the driver's last actual pick-up or drop-off time into the computer. PT indicated that drivers often have trouble reporting locations when dispatchers are busy. As a result dispatchers often contact the drivers. PT also maintains a
PT dispatchers indicated that the Command Center calls with cancellations less than one hour before the scheduled time. The dispatcher can then notify the driver of the cancellation. If the cancellation is requested more than one hour in advance, the cancellation is communicated to PT through the scheduling and tracking software.
Dispatchers performed time checks and monitored route schedules for both lateness and slack time. At PT the reviewer observed 29 actions. These included 22 time checks, one early arrival at a pick-up location, two cancellations, one trip moved and one customer no-show. The moved trip resulted from the wrong customer boarding the vehicle and taking the trip, resulting in the original customer being late. Additionally, there was one instance in which the driver was directed to the wrong location. When checked using the Geographic Information System (GIS), the wrong location continued to appear. Eventually, through direct discussion between the dispatcher and the customer the driver was redirected to the correct location. The customer said that she has had the same problem before and, more than once, requested that the erroneous directions be corrected. It appears that the incorrect information is the result of a problem with the GIS.
Dispatchers indicated that they moved trips based upon how late the route is running, how tight the route is and how good the driver is. PT dispatchers focus on service up to two hours in advance. By monitoring service and taking corrective action, no more than one late or missed trip occurs on a route as a result of a service problem. A PT dispatcher indicated that some routes are very tight, such that a five-minute delay in boarding a passenger can result in the remainder of the stops scheduled for the route being late. The software system offers suggestions on routes to move trips to. The PT dispatcher understood the -5/+25 pick-up window. PT dispatchers require drivers to wait five minutes for the customer after the beginning of the pick-up window. The PT dispatcher indicated that when the vehicle arrives early, they will call the customer before the pick-up window but if the customer fails to show for his/her ride the dispatcher will not make a second call to the customer within the pick-up window.
TFM (Transit Facility Management) - TFM has a T1 line with 24 paths with one direct dial number. The line is shared with its bus company. Seven lines are assigned to AAR operations, four for dispatchers, two for supervisors and one general line. All TFM drivers are equipped with Nextels.
TFM operates approximately 50 peak period routes with three dispatchers. Dispatchers are assigned approximately 15 routes apiece. A review team member observed the TFM dispatchers from 7:00 to 9:00 AM on Friday, September 12, 2003. Dispatchers monitor service using the scheduling software. Dispatchers check the driver's location relative to their route schedule every 30 minutes and enter the driver's last actual pick-up or drop-off time into the computer. The computer automatically updates the estimated times for the rest of the route based upon the performed time entered by the dispatcher. Routes that are running late will appear in red on the display. This includes routes that are running later than five minutes before scheduled drop-off or appointment times. Dispatchers can manually override the estimated times generated by the computer, but not the times promised to customers.
Dispatchers were observed performing time checks and monitoring both schedule and monitor routes for lateness and slack time. At TFM the reviewer observed 31 actions including 22 time checks, one trip cancellation, three customer no-shows, one no-fault no-show and four transfers of trips from one route to another. The 31 actions over the two-hour period for approximately 15 routes indicate that there were one or fewer contacts with each driver per hour. (One driver was contacted four times during this period.) For one customer no-show the vehicle arrived 10 minutes before the pick-up time scheduled with the customer. The dispatcher called the customer 10 minutes before the scheduled time and got no answer. This call was made outside of the -5/+25 minute pick-up window that the customer is supposed to be available for a ride. The dispatcher instructed the driver to categorize the customer as a no-show if they did not appear before the scheduled time.
Dispatchers indicated that they moved trips based upon how late the route is running, how tight the route is and how good the driver is. By monitoring service and taking corrective action, no more than one late or missed trip occurs on a route as a result of a service problem. The software system offers suggestions on routes to move trips to. The TFM dispatchers seemed competent and appeared to coordinate well with one another in reassigning passenger trips from one route to another. In one instance a trip was moved from one route to another and a second trip was moved from the receiving route to yet another route to address a late route. Also, two trips were moved to a rescue route.
Star Cruiser - The telephone system at Star Cruiser has six lines. All six lines are available on telephones throughout the operation. Managers reported that the number of lines was adequate for the number of dispatch stations and for administrative needs. Staff reported no issues regarding phone capacity.
The morning Dispatch Supervisor reviews runs transmitted by the control center first thing each morning. Some "fine-tuning" of the schedules is done each day. This includes moving some trips between runs or making minor adjustments to scheduled times.
The dispatchers on duty were observed regularly scanning the status of runs. Both dispatchers indicated that they review runs when they first come on duty to identify those that appear tight and those that have more slack. They then will spend more time tracking runs they expect will need assistance. During observations drivers did not report each pick-up and drop-off. They did, however, contact dispatch if they needed assistance. Otherwise, the dispatchers monitored the status of each run with periodic polling.
Reviewers observed dispatchers handling two customer no-shows. In both cases, dispatchers asked the drivers for the time they arrived at the pick-up location. They then checked that time against the pick-up time promised to the customer and the 25-minute pick-up window allowed for arrival of the vehicle. Dispatchers attempted to reach the riders by phone in both cases. They were not successful in either attempt. Dispatchers then asked the drivers to describe a landmark and landmarks and the arrival times were entered into the system. In one instance, the driver arrived for a 10:00 am pick-up at 9:49 AM and the dispatcher approved the no-show at 10:06 AM. In the second case, the driver arrived at 9:18 AM for a 9:12 AM pick-up and waited until 9:26 AM. Just as the dispatcher was authorizing the driver to proceed, the rider appeared and boarded.
Both dispatchers indicated that some runs could be tight. They noted that if there were any unexpected delays in riders boarding vehicles, traffic, or other delays, drivers would begin to fall behind. Both dispatchers felt that having a floater vehicle was very helpful since it was not always possible to identify another vehicle with slack time in the area to accept reassignment of the customer. Both felt a second floater would be useful.
Observations during the morning peak period indicated that several runs were tight. Dispatchers appeared to identify pick-ups that were identified by the system as potentially late, however, and proactively assigned these passenger trips to other drivers or to the floater vehicle.
Reviewers also observed both dispatchers keeping the window that shows cancellations open (in the lower corner of the dispatch screen) and to constantly scan the window for new cancellations. These were then communicated to drivers in a timely manner. Dispatchers indicated that they usually communicate cancellations at the same time they poll drivers on run status - to minimize the number of driver interruptions. Dispatchers also indicated that they often count on trip cancellations to open-up slack time in runs that can be used to keep the system on schedule.
Both dispatchers indicated that getting authorization for
Dispatchers received several calls from the control center asking about the status of rides. Reviewers observed some cases, in which riders were calling the control center well within the 25-minute period after the promised time. The dispatchers indicated that they get a lot of calls like that and that some riders either do not understand the
Reviewers also observed dispatchers using the time promised to the customer when communicating with drivers. For example, they might say,
The dispatcher on duty indicated that a Scheduling Supervisor from the NYCT meets with dispatch staff once a week to review scheduling and dispatch issues. This was felt to be very positive and constructive.
Based on a work schedule provided dated September 1, 2003, Star Cruiser employs two full-time Dispatch Supervisors and five full-time and one part-time dispatcher. One Dispatch Supervisor works a daytime shift (5:00 AM to 5:00 PM weekdays and 7:00 AM to 12:00 PM on weekends - 70 hours total). The second Dispatch Supervisor works a night shift (6:00 PM to 6:00 AM Wednesday through Sunday - 60 hours total). These and other dispatcher shifts are presented in Table IX.6 below. In addition to the Dispatch Supervisors, there are two morning dispatchers (one that reports at 6:00 AM and a second that reports at 8:00 AM). There is also a mid-day dispatcher, two afternoon/evening dispatchers, and one late night/early morning dispatcher. On weekdays during peak operating hours, there are a total of two to four staff scheduled - one to three dispatchers plus a Supervisor. During the evening and early morning hours on weekdays, there are two to three people working in dispatch. On weekends, two people cover dispatch at all hours except 6:00 AM to 7:00 AM when only one person is on duty.
During weekday peak periods, each dispatcher manages 17-28 runs. On the day the operation was observed, two dispatchers were handling the primary dispatch functions and were managing 55 runs between them. One was handling the odd-numbered runs and the other the even-numbered runs. The Supervisor on duty managed other aspects of the operation.
Table IX.6 - Star Cruiser Dispatch Staffing Based on September 1, 2003 Work ScheduleB. Transportation
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Atlantic Paratrans - Two assessment team members visited the Atlantic Paratrans of NYC, Inc. operations center on Monday, September 15, 2003. Reviewers interviewed staff, including senior managers as well as operations staff and drivers. Driver training, turnover, availability and run coverage was examined, and vehicle availability and condition was analyzed.
The Atlantic Paratrans Manager noted that schedules are typically received between 6:00 and 7:00 PM on the evening before the service day. The evening dispatchers then review the schedules after the evening peak (usually between 9:00 and 11:00 PM). Some adjustments are needed, but the Manager noted that the schedules they receive are
The Manager also noted that the central schedulers seem to be continually revising and improving the schedules and they have been getting better over time. He also indicated that there is a good working relationship between the schedulers at First Transit and NYCT and the Atlantic dispatchers and Supervisors.
It was the Manager's opinion that there were operating issues in 1999 and 2000 when the system grew rapidly but that in the past few years, service quality has improved significantly. He noted that in the 1999-2000 period, Atlantic Paratrans' operation grew by about 100 vehicles in a nine-month period. Driver recruitment and other operating problems emerged during this period of rapid growth. He also noted that a tight labor market at that time contributed to difficulty in recruiting and retaining drivers.
Vehicle and run records for August 18-24 were reviewed. At that time, Atlantic Paratrans operated a fleet of 210 AAR vehicles. On August 25, 2003, ten additional vehicles were assigned to Atlantic Paratrans increasing their AAR fleet to 220 vehicles. Between 196 and 221 weekday runs were assigned to Atlantic Paratrans at that time. Peak service requires that 184-187 vehicles be available. About 113-117 weekend routes were typically assigned.
The Atlantic Paratrans Manager noted that they operate one
Vehicle availability reports for August 18-25, 2003, were reviewed to determine if enough vehicles were available to cover peak service requirements. Summary information from these reports is provided in Table IX.7 below.
There were enough vehicles available each day to cover peak period requirements. Prior to the receipt of 10 new vehicles, there were 3-6 vehicles available as spares beyond those needed for scheduled runs. On August 25, with the 10 new vehicles, there were 17 vehicles available as spares.
As of September 8, 2003, Atlantic Paratrans employed 373 drivers with average tenure of 3.74 years. 333 (89.3%) of Atlantic Paratrans drivers had worked for Atlantic Paratrans for more than one year. A review of the daily operations sheets for the week of August 18-24, 2003, which show driver assignments by run and the use of extra board drivers, indicated that no runs were cancelled due to a lack of drivers. There appeared to be an adequate number of available extra board drivers to cover scheduled days off as well as service-day absences. The Atlantic Paratrans Manager indicated hat he couldn't remember the last time they had cancelled a run due to the lack of availability of drivers. Atlantic Paratrans does not appear to have a problem with driver recruitment or retention.
New drivers receive nine days of classroom training. Three of these days are spent on disability awareness and passenger assistance techniques training. Trainees are then
Drivers who complete the training course are started on 6.5-hour runs but are paid for a full eight hours. This gives them time to review schedules and plan their day. They are gradually moved up to runs of between 8 and 10 hour runs in duration.
Starting pay for drivers is $10.25 per hour. During the first year of employment the pay rate gradually increases to $12.38 per hour. Based on the current contract, maximum pay is $15.00 per hour. Drivers also receive health benefits ($15 individual or $59 family weekly contribution). There are six paid holidays, one personal day and a paid birthday leave each year. Drivers also get one week of paid vacation after one year and two weeks of paid vacation after two years.
The manager noted that drivers who are hired for eight-hour runs are paid the full eight hours even if some of the hours on that run are trimmed, or removed during scheduling by First Transit. Drivers also receive overtime if runs are extended beyond eight hours. The Manager noted that there are about 1,800 hours of overtime paid per week.
The Manager indicated that the workforce is relatively stable and that most turnover is due to transfer by drivers to other parts of the company. Atlantic Paratrans is a major school bus operator and also a fixed route operator and paratransit drivers often transfer to better paid positions in these other divisions. Even with this internal migration, however, the Manager did not feel that driver turnover was a significant problem at the current time.
Maggie's Paratransit - Two assessment team members visited the Maggie's Paratransit Corporation operations center on Monday, September 15, 2003. Reviewers interviewed staff, including senior managers as well as operations staff and drivers. Driver training, turnover, availability and run coverage was examined, and vehicle availability and condition was analyzed.
Maggie's Paratransit operates a fleet of 115 AAR vehicles. About 84-85 vehicles are needed to cover peak-hour runs on weekdays. Maggie's is not authorized to operate a
Vehicle availability reports for the week of August 18-22, 2003, were reviewed to identify the number of vehicles available for service each day compared to the number of peak-hour vehicles needed to cover all assigned routes. The information collected is provided in Table IX.8 below.
As shown, 23 to 24 spare vehicles were available during peak periods on these days. Maintenance staff and operations managers indicated that they always have enough vehicles to cover assigned runs.
As of September 8, 2003, Maggie's Paratransit employed 169 drivers. Average period of employment for these drivers was slightly less than one year with 99 (59%) of its drivers having less than one year's experience.
Managers indicated that trainees are paid a $6.00 per hour. New drivers then start at $11.00 per hour. Maximum hourly wage for drivers is $15.00. After 90 days, drivers also are eligible for medical coverage ($17 per week individual, $57 per week family). There are also five paid holidays and drivers also get their birthdays off with pay.
New drivers receive 10 days of training. Drivers spend the first day, as well as days three thru seven, in a classroom setting. Sensitivity training and passenger assistance is taught on days three and four. The second day and days nine and ten are spent on the road. On day two, trainees ride with experienced drivers and observe what they do. On days nine and ten, trainees drive and perform all other duties and are observed by driver-trainers. The second day
MV Transportation - Two assessment team members visited the MV Transportation, Inc. operations center on Friday, September 12, 2003, and again on Thursday, September 18, 2003. Reviewers interviewed staff, including senior managers as well as operations staff and drivers. Driver training, turnover, availability and run coverage was examined, and vehicle availability and condition was analyzed.
MV Transportation operates a fleet of 110 AAR vehicles. It is typically assigned about 134-148 runs per weekday, about 41 runs on Saturdays and about 51 runs on Sundays. On weekdays, about 85 to 87 vehicles are needed to cover peak operations.
Four vehicles that were returning from morning runs were inspected. All appeared to be generally clean and in fair to good condition given age and mileage. A few minor problems were noted, however. The tailpipe on one vehicle was noted to be loose (the rear hanging bracket was missing). The Quality Control officer saw the problem, but the vehicle was not taken in for maintenance before the next run. The door to the battery tray (mounted on the passenger-side skirt) of one vehicle also appeared to not be secured (broken latch). Again, the vehicle remained in the yard for the next run.
With the help and guidance of NYCT contract management staff, MV Transportation recently implemented a more efficient vehicle turn-around procedure. Doorways at the facility were modified to allow vehicles to pull-through and be checked-in and checked-out in a more efficient manner. MV Transportation staff indicated that there had been some difficulty in the past with turning vehicles around in the time allowed by the schedules. This reportedly has improved.
The maintenance supervisor indicated that because some vehicles run
Vehicle availability reports for weekdays between August 19 and August 25, 2003, were reviewed to determine the number of vehicles available for service each day compared to the number of peak period vehicles needed to cover all assigned runs. The information collected is provided in Table IX.9 below.
Vehicle availability records for weekends are not prepared since far fewer vehicles are needed on weekends and availability is not an issue. In August 2003, MV Transportation operated a fleet of only 100 vehicles. In the last month, 10 additional vehicles have been added to the fleet and as noted at the beginning of this section, their fleet is now 110 vehicles. In August 2003, however, it can be seen that the maintenance shop was reporting far fewer vehicles available for service on some days than were needed to cover peak period routes. On Tuesday, August 19, 2003, only 77 vehicles were reported ready for service while the peak requirement was 85. And on Monday, August 25, 2003, only 71 vehicles were available while 85 were needed. The MV Transportation Manager indicated that maintenance staff often reports vehicles as unavailable for service but that many of these vehicles have only minor problems that do not prevent them from being used if necessary. When needed, these vehicles can be placed in service. He indicated that MV Transportation
Based on an interview with the MV Transportation Manager, it was clear that this provider has gone through significant staffing changes in the past year. The current Manager has been in that position for about a year. He was a former NYCT employee who indicated he had come out of retirement to help turn the operation around. He indicated that in the past year, since he started, he had replaced the Maintenance Manager, and three of the Dispatch Managers and about half of the dispatchers were new employees.
A review of the MV Transportation driver-training curriculum indicated that new drivers receive at least 10 days (80 hours) of training. This includes nine days of classroom training and at least one day of
As of September 8, 2003, MV Transportation had 250 drivers with an average of one year of employment. Approximately half the drivers had more than one year of employment. The Assistant Manager indicated problems having enough drivers to cover runs on Sundays, indicating that MV Transportation may have difficulties with driver recruitment and retention.
PTM Management (PT) - Operators can review schedules through their computer system as First Transit develops them during the day before service delivery but may not alter the schedule. Operators normally receive access to their schedules for service between 5:30 and 7:00 PM on the evening before service. On evenings before holidays schedules are sometimes delivered before 5:00 PM and when there are computer system problems the schedules can be delivered as late as 3:00 AM on the service day. After the schedules are handed off to the operator, the operator is free to alter the schedules. Operators address modifications to the schedules in different ways. PT's night dispatcher reviews the next day's schedules and flags potential problems. Operators have the latitude to move passenger trips from one route to another among the routes assigned to them or to change estimated times in the schedules but not the times promised to customers. Extension or addition of routes requires approval by the AAR Command Center. Common schedule problems encountered are: geo-coding errors, address errors, problems with some of the manual insertion of passenger trips that override the software parameters onto routes. Operators print the drivers' manifests on the night before service.
PT drivers arrive 15 minutes before their first pull out to review schedules and prepare for their runs. They are not paid for this time.
The new computer scheduling was activated in May of 2002. There were problems with the schedules during an implementation period of approximately one year. The overall effect of the new schedules has been an increase in productivity. PT's Project Manager also indicated that schedules have improved with trip times that better reflect traffic conditions and denser trip patterns on routes. The denser trip patterns resulted from assigning trips to routes based upon an
NYCT also faxes a
The PT morning dispatchers review their routes and enter any cancellations onto the manifests of drivers who have not yet reported to work. Some operators are authorized by NYCT to operate
Star Cruiser Transportation (Star Cruiser) - Two assessment team members visited the Star Cruiser operations center on Thursday, September 11, 2003. Reviewers interviewed staff, including senior managers as well as operations staff and drivers. Driver training, turnover, availability and run coverage was examined and vehicle availability and condition was analyzed.
Star Cruiser operates a fleet of 60 AAR vehicles. It is typically assigned about 70 runs per weekday and 55 vehicles are needed to cover peak-hour runs. Star Cruiser also operates one
Star Cruiser has implemented a very efficient vehicle turn-around procedure. As vehicles return from runs a maintenance supervisor inspects them. Vehicles are then cleaned, fueled and made ready for the next run. Maintenance issues reported by drivers are also handled as needed.
Maintenance staff and operations managers indicated that they always have enough vehicles to cover assigned runs and runs rarely, if ever, go uncovered due to a lack of vehicles.
Seven randomly selected vehicles were inspected at pull-out on September 11, 2003, for general condition and cleanliness. All appeared to be in very good condition. It was noted that Star Cruiser has a 509/19A Compliance Officer who supervises pull-out to make sure all vehicles that leave the yard meet state and federal requirements and are in good condition.
As of September 8, 2003, Star Cruiser employed 112 drivers with an average term of employment of 1.4 years. 72 drivers (64%) had been employed for more than one year. Star Cruiser managers indicated that the workforce seemed to be relatively stable and that turnover was not a major issue.
It was noted by managers that drivers start at $10.50 per hour and receive $12.00 per hour after one year. After 90 days, drivers are eligible to receive medical benefits (paid 100% by the company) and contributions to a retirement account.
Star Cruiser management reported that new drivers receive 85 hours of classroom training and at least 34 hours of on-the-road training. Classroom training includes
Transit Facility Management (TFM) - Operators can review schedules through their computer system as First Transit develops them during the day before service delivery but may not alter the schedule. Operators normally receive access to their schedules for service between 5:30 and 7:00 PM on the evening before service. On evenings before holidays schedules are sometimes delivered before 5:00 PM and when there are computer system problems the schedules can be delivered as late as 3:00 AM on the service day. After the schedules are handed off to the operator, the operator is free to alter the schedules. Operators address modifications to the schedules in different ways. The afternoon dispatcher for TFM reviews the schedules, as First Transit develops them, and flags potential problems. TFM is adding a scheduler to review schedules between 6:00 and 9:00 PM and make adjustments and corrections as needed. Operators have the latitude to move passenger trips from one route to another among assigned routes or to change estimated times in the schedules but not the times promised to customers. Extension or addition of routes requires approval by the AAR Command Center. Common schedule problems encountered are: geo-coding errors, address errors and problems with some of the manual insertion of passenger trips that override the software parameters onto routes. Operators print the drivers' manifests on the night before service.
The TFM dispatcher supervisor reviews routes when he reports to work at 9:00 AM and fixes problem routes by transferring trips to other routes. Some dispatchers review the routes they're dispatching before they begin work. In the event of absences, other dispatchers work over time and/or supervisors perform dispatcher functions.
All of the operators have union drivers but with different unions and contracts. Currently there is no provision for driver review of schedules before pull out at TFM. TFM is renegotiating the contract with its drivers union. The negotiations include provision for a paid 15-minute pre-trip inspection, which would include review of schedule manifests by drivers.
TFM indicated that they had some problems with drivers checking in at the dispatch window on time but pulling out of the garage late for their route. The dispatch window and the yard are currently located away from each other. TFM is reorganizing its space to locate the dispatch window nearer to the yard to improve supervision and correct this problem.
The new computer scheduling was activated in May of 2002. There were problems with the schedules during an implementation period of approximately one year. The overall effect of the new schedules has been an increase in productivity. According to TFM's Project Manager passenger trips increased by 25-33 % from 12,000 +/- in December 2002 to 15-16,000 in March of 2003. During the same period the number of routes increased from 68 to 71 (4.5%). The Project Manager attributed the increased efficiency to better fit of routes to peaks in demand, improved schedules and denser trip patterns on routes. The denser trip patterns resulted from assigning trips to routes based upon an
NYCT also faxes a
According to the TFM Project Manager the time required from identification of need by the dispatcher and approval by the Command Center of these
While conducting site visits to the contract carriers, the review team interviewed a total of 53 drivers. Drivers were randomly selected as they finished or before they began their runs. Team members interviewed a mix of new and veteran drivers, with from two weeks to 13 years of experience as AAR drivers. Team members asked each driver a series of questions that covered the following topics:
Table IX.10 presents the number of driver interviews by carrier and by the range of time drivers have worked for AAR.
Following are some of the key observations gathered from the driver interviews:
The assessment team reviewed the disposition, or coding, of trips from what was scheduled by NYCT on the evening before service to the ultimate performance of the trip. The team reviewed AAR's performance reports, AAR's data file for a randomly selected weekday, Thursday, May 15, 2003, and a sample of manifests as completed by drivers for each of the operating contractors for the same service day. The purpose of this review was to affirm that NYCT's performance reports are representative of the information being reported by drivers and recorded in AAR's database and properly reflect service performance.
Each of the operators prepares computer reports on the disposition service performance and submits the reports to NYCT. The actual passenger pick-up and drop-off times reported are taken from the information recorded by drivers on their manifests. According to NYCT managers, analysts, assigned to each of the four Compliance Managers, review and reconcile performance reports. Analysts review a sample of trips and customer no-shows. If incorrect reporting of information by the operator is identified, the operator is advised and further actions are taken to correct the problem if warranted. NYCT managers also observe whether morning and afternoon driver pullouts onto their routes are on time.
Sample manifests from 24 randomly selected routes (three from each of the eight major operators) were examined to verify accuracy of pickup and drop-off data that had been entered into NYCT's database. The random sample consisted of 203 completed trips taken by clients on May 15, 2003. Of the 203 trips, pickup times on the manifests varied from that in NYCT's database in 18 instances, or approximately 9% of the time. Drop off times varied in 10 cases, or about 5% of the time.
Of the 18 differences:
In the eight cases that had ranges or an illegible number it is NYCT's default procedure to have the operator use a time entered into the scheduling system by the dispatcher when performing time checks on drivers. This procedure would account for these eight differences and should result in representative times in the NYCT database. Likewise, the transcription errors and early pickup times should not cause the data reported by NYCT to be unrepresentative of service.
Of the five cases above (2.5% of the 203 trips sampled) with later pickup times on the manifest than that reported on the master spreadsheet, time differences ranged from 3 to 10 minutes later than reported, with an average difference of 6 minutes. Only one case was later than 25 minutes from the promised pickup time. This potentially represents an underreporting of late pick-ups by 0.5%.
Of the 10 cases with manifest drop-off times that differed from the master spreadsheet:
As with pick-up times, none of the differences observed appear to skew the NYCT reported data. Accordingly, the NYCT database appears representative of the information provide by drivers on their manifests and has been used as a basis for further analysis of service performance.
AAR categorizes the disposition of scheduled trips as follows:
49 CFR §37.131(f)(3)(B) prohibits transit entities from limiting service availability through patterns or practices that result in substantial number of missed trips. For purposes of measuring performance against the regulatory criteria, missed trips are defined as trips that were not served when the customer was available for the trip throughout the 30-minute (-5/+25) pick-up window. It would appear that all of the trips categorized as contractor no-shows and no-fault no-shows are missed trips. Some taxi trips may be missed trips if the customer chose not to use the authorization and make the trip. Because of lag time in customer and black car payment requests and possible failure to request reimbursement for completed trips, AAR could not confirm the number of authorized taxi trips that were completed. Also some customer no-shows may be missed trips if the pick-up location was incorrectly recorded on the manifest and/or the vehicle driver unknowingly went to the wrong location, in spite of AAR's efforts to avoid or minimize such problems.
NYCT provided the reviewers a table, Paratransit Summary Statistics, identifying the disposition of trips for each day during the month of May (Attachment P). For the month, of 248,593 trips scheduled 15,578 (6.3%) were late cancellations, 7,165 (2.9%) were customer no shows, 1,769 (0.7%) were no-fault no-shows, 390 (0.2%) were carrier no-shows, and 223,692 (90.0%) were completed by contract operators. During the month 747 vouchers were redeemed for trips completed by taxis or black cars (Attachment P). Because there can be a substantial lag from the date of travel until the voucher is redeemed, these vouchers are not reconciled by travel date. As a result the number of trips made by voucher cannot be precisely identified. However, the redeemed vouchers during May equals 0.3% of scheduled trips during May. NYCT officials indicated that they subtract multiple requests for the same trip and trips for which taxi vouchers were issued from their performance reports. As a result the reported figures in Attachment P will be greater than the numbers presented for a sample day as discussed below.
The review team selected May 15 as a sample day to perform a more detailed review of trip disposition. Table IX.11 presents the disposition of trips for that day. As noted above these numbers do not include trips for which taxi vouchers were authorized.
Reviewers looked at the number of taxi vouchers authorized to determine how many of the trips that were not completed by operators might have been completed through the use of a voucher. Vouchers issued on May 15 for trips to be made on May 15 are presented in Table IX.12. It appears that the taxi vouchers issued for the Taxi category were coded incorrectly. As one might expect, most vouchers were authorized for the no-show categories. Same day vouchers were authorized for 1.7% of the scheduled trips. Applying the 0.3% of vouchers redeemed during the month of May results in estimated use of the vouchers in approximately 20% of the time that they are authorized.
Assuming 20 % of the vouchers are actually used results in estimated disposition of trips as presented in Table IX.13. For example if 20 vouchers were authorized for carrier no-shows it is estimated that four would actually be used to complete the trip, reducing the number of trips not completed because of carrier no shows from 37, as presented in NYCT's data, to 33. 38 trips categorized as served were incorrectly categorized and, based upon review of a log of messages for taxi voucher authorizations, were typically some form of no-show or late cancellations. Vouchers were not used for 30 of these 38 trips categorized as completed. This constitutes 0.3% of scheduled trips. As a result these other categories are slightly understated in Table IX.13.
The 314 customer no-shows were reviewed to determine whether the vehicle reportedly arrived at the pick-up location between the scheduled pick-up time (5 minutes into the pick-up window) and the end of the pick-up window (25 minutes after the scheduled pick-up time). In all 314 instances the reported vehicle arrival time was within this twenty-five minute period. According to the trip logs customers disputed some of the no-shows as potential problems with things such as wrong addresses and passengers who were delayed in appearing when the vehicle arrived.
A no-fault no-show occurs when the operator arrives after the end of the pick-up window (25 minutes after the scheduled time), but less than 45 minutes after the scheduled time. From a customer service perspective these trips are missed trips, the vehicle did not arrive within the agreed upon time and the trip was not completed. These trips are captured in a separate category for contractual purposes. Operators are not penalized for late trips until they are more than 45 minutes late. Of the 118 trips categorized as no-fault no-shows in 12 (10%) instances the vehicle arrived more than 45 minutes after the scheduled time. This could be due to circumstances beyond the operators control and appropriately categorized as a no-fault no-show. For 59 trips including the 12 above, (50%) the vehicles arrived between 25 and 45 minutes after the scheduled time. These are no-shows for which the contractor is not penalized. For 17 trips (14%) the vehicle arrived more than 5 minutes early or before the pickup window communicated to the customer. These early arrivals could be carrier no-shows if the vehicle departed early or disputed no-shows if the vehicle awaited the customer. Finally, on 42 trips (36%) the vehicle arrived within the pick-up window. These could be trips where the driver arrived at an incorrect address or otherwise missed connections with the customer. From the perspective of customer service at least 50% of the no-fault no-shows are missed trips by the contractor and the remaining 50% are potential missed trips. Accordingly, for the sample day there were an estimated 82 (0.8%) missed trips. Whereas 49 CFR 37.131(f)(i)(B) states that there be no substantial number of missed trips, it is important to take particular care in defining and categorizing no-shows so as to accurately identify
NYCT provided a report on Paratransit On Time Performance for the period February through July 2003 (Attachment Q). The report identified trips completed and late trips by month for each of the eight operators. Not included were trips completed by taxi or black car or the three back-up carriers.
NYCT measures only late pick-ups. It does not measure late drop-offs or early pick-ups. Early and on-time trips for the period were 92.3% of completed trips ranging from 91.5% in June to 93.8% in July. The number of late trips dropped from a high of 19,083 in May to 13,606 in July. Since an increase in completed trips from 178,554 in February to 225,750 in March, the number of completed trips appears to be stable. It appears that there has been a steady improvement in on-time performance. This could be attributable to seasonal traffic conditions as well as service improvements reported by NYCT.
Among the operators RJR has the best on-time performance, ranging from 96.6% in May to 98.2% in March. Contributing to this performance level is an experienced operator and favorable operating environment. RJR's primary service area is Staten Island. TFM has the lowest on-time performance ranging from 84.6% in June to 89.2% in March. TFM is a newer contractor.
In order to develop an independent estimate of on-time performance, the review team assessed AAR trips for a sample day of Thursday, May 15, 2003. Using an AAR data file the reviewer identified on-time, early, and late pick-ups and drop-offs for 8,968 trips completed by the eight operators. On-time pick-ups are those with a reported pick-up time within the pick-up window provided to customers from 5 minutes before until 25 minutes after the scheduled time. Early pick-ups are those performed more than 5 minutes before the scheduled time. If the pick-up occurs more than 25 minutes after the scheduled time it is considered a late pick-up. Drop-offs are considered late if they occur after the appointment time or the drop-off time given to the customer. Early drop-offs have not been considered although dropping customers excessively early for appointments would not likely meet the test of comparability to fixed route service. Information is reported on drop-offs only for those trips that the customer requested an appointment time.
For the sample day, 91.8% of pick-ups were on-time or early. This percentage is comparable with the 92.3% reported by NYCT for the six months from February through July, indicating that the sample day is representative of overall service performance. 6,634 of the pick-ups were within the pick-up window and 1,603 (17.9%) of the pick-ups were early. A concern with the large number of early pick-ups is the potential for customers to be pressured to accept a trip before they are ready. If this were to occur it could discourage customers from using the service and could be considered a constraining practice, which is not allowed by the USDOT ADA regulations. It may be appropriate for NYCT to monitor early pick-ups to assure that customers are not pressured to accept trips before they are ready.
On-time drop-offs of 89.4% is comparable to the rate of on-time pick-ups. Of particular concern with drop-offs is the need to meet appointment times such as medical appointments or the beginning of work or school. For an employee this means that they might expect to be late once in every ten trips or approximately once every two weeks. Chronic lateness could jeopardize riders' employment or require rescheduling of appointments with the associated inconvenience. Given the importance to customers of meeting appointment times, NYCT should consider monitoring performance for drop-offs as well as pick-ups.
The reviewers looked at the extent to which pick-ups or drop-offs are late. Of the completed drop-offs, 6% were more than 10 minutes late and none were more than 35 minutes late. This results in 94% of drop-offs made less than 10 minutes late. This means that every 4 weeks they will be late by less than 10 minutes once, and between 10 and 35 minutes once.
3.9% of completed pick-ups were less than 10 minutes late. As indicated in Table IX.15, 4.3% of all pick-ups were more than 10 minutes late with 0.6% more than 35 minutes late and 0.1% more than 1 hour late.
It should be noted that these late trips do not include trips completed through the use of vouchers. As discussed in the Trip Disposition section of this chapter, of the 167 vouchers authorized for May 15 it is estimated that approximately 20% (33) were used. Since vouchers are typically offered after trips are late, as indicated by NYCT practices and the logs for taxi authorizations, these estimated 33 trips are most likely late and possibly very late. If these trips were added to the late trips in the NYCT reports it would increase the late trips by about 0.4%.
At MV Transportation, a chart showing on-time performance for the months of August and September 2003 was on display in the administrative offices. Figure IX.1 below shows the on-time performance that was shown on that chart. Apparently data was not available for September 3. The information for this one operator provides an indication of the extent to which on-time performance varies by day. The chart showed that weekday on-time performance in August typically was between 88-94%. In September, weekday performance was somewhat lower, running typically between 84-90%. On weekends, though, much lower on-time performance was noted.
Figure IX.1 - On-Time Performance Noted by MV Transportation, August 1-September 16, 2003
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Table IX.16 shows the weekend on-time performance charted by MV Transportation during this period. As shown, Saturday on-time performance often ran only 79-85% and Sunday on-time performance was only 84% on August 24 and September 14, and only 83% on September 7, 2003.
MV Transportation management noted that on weekends MV Transportation is required to cover all of the service area because fewer providers operate during the late evening/early morning hours. Drivers are less familiar with the full area. And, because there are fewer total vehicles on the road at this time, the opportunity to reassign trips between vehicles if there are in service problems is reduced. Managers also noted that they had some issues covering runs with available drivers on Sundays. All of these factors have a negative affect on weekend on-time performance.
AAR On-Board Ride Times
As part of this review, the team analyzed AAR's on-board ride time (travel time) performance including a review of policies and procedures, a sample day of travel time data and a comparison of the travel time of actual ADA Complementary Paratransit trips with comparable fixed route trips.
Policies and Procedures
NYCT's goal is to schedule 100% of trips using the travel time standards in Table IX.17.
NYCT has no stated goal for actual performance in meeting the scheduling travel time standards and does not measure trip duration.
The scheduling parameters limit the duration for passenger trip schedules. Also each operator is subject to liquidated damages for poor on-time performance. The scheduling limitations and late trip disincentives are intended to prevent substantially long trips.
NYCT's categories overlap. For example, trips of three miles are included in both the first and second categories. The first category includes trips greater than or equal to zero miles and trips less than or equal to three miles and the second category includes trips greater than or equal to three miles and less than or equal to six miles. For analytical purposes, the trip categories were taken to mean: < 3 miles, >3 to 6 miles, >6 to 9 miles, and so on. The mileage refers to map mileage calculated by ADEPT (and for the reviewer's analysis based on MapQuest routing).
Review of On-Board Travel Time
A sample day - Thursday, May 15, 2003 - was randomly selected for this analysis. First, the average trip length was calculated based on completed trips operated during that sample day. Actual pick-up and drop-off times were used, not scheduled travel times. Reported odometer readings were used for mileage, recognizing that trips may not have been direct if they involved shared rides. In addition to overall averages, the data was aggregated into categories coinciding with the travel time standards set by NYCT. For example, trips < 50 minutes, trips from 51 to 65 minutes, and so on. Within each category, the data were scanned to look for lengthy trips that exceeded the ride time standards (based on actual on-board travel time and actual odometer readings).
Table IX.18 summarizes the results of this analysis. Using reconciled data for May 15, 2003, there were 8,968 completed trips. Of those, 8,774 trips (97%) were included in this analysis. The 194 trips that were excluded were trips that did not have recorded odometer readings and/or actual pick-up/drop-off times. This figure includes trips that were provided by taxi, black car and contractors that did not reconcile data.
The average travel time for all trips was 42 minutes; the overall average trip distance (based on odometer readings) was 9.3 miles. 68% of all trips were 50 minutes or less. Of those, the average travel time was 36 minutes and the average trip distance was 5.8 miles. 81% of all trips were 65 minutes or less and 95% of trips were 95 minutes or less. 23 trips (less than 1%) were more than 155 minutes (2 hours and 35 minutes), which is the maximum travel time standard for any trip set by NYCT.
The second part of the analysis included a comparison of actual on-board travel times for a sample of long ADA Complementary Paratransit trips with fixed route travel times as a means of assessing whether these paratransit trip lengths are significantly longer than comparable fixed route trips between the same origin and destination at the same time of day. For this analysis, a sample of 70 long AAR trips was selected from trips provided on May 15, 2003. The average travel time for the sample was 105 minutes and the average actual trip (odometer) mileage was 23 miles. The average trip mileage calculated by MapQuest for the sample trips was 13 miles.
NYCT's customer service staff assisted the review team in developing fixed route trip itineraries to compare with the actual on-board travel times for the sample of AAR trips. The fixed route itineraries were based on travel from the same origin to the same destination at the same time of day and day of week as the comparable AAR trip. The shortest fixed route trip time was calculated for each trip as well as a trip time using only busses.
A software program ("OTIS") was used to generate fixed route itineraries. Fixed route customer service personnel use this software to plan trip itineraries for customers. The following information was entered for each AAR trip:
Other assumptions included:
The computer typically generated multiple itineraries. For analysis purposes, the first itineraries were selected for the
The OTIS program calculated:
The reviewers added 5 minutes to the trip time calculated by OTIS to each fixed route trip to account for wait time at the initial bus stop. The wait time assumes buses arrive every 10 minutes and passengers arrive randomly throughout the 10-minute period, resulting in an average waiting time of 5 minutes.
Using trip information from the sample drawn for May 15, 2003, Table IX.19 shows the results for the
The set of columns on the right side of the table compares the AAR travel time with the
The table shows that 43 (61%) of the AAR trips took less time or the same time as the bus-only trips. 10 (14%) of the trips could not be made using buses only (designated by N/A). The table also shows that 21 (30%) of the AAR trips were faster than or equal to the "fastest route" fixed route trips. The analysis indicates that when the AAR trip is very long, the comparable trip on fixed route is also long. For example, trip #46 was 124 minutes on AAR. However, the comparable trip itinerary for the
The bold entries in the table indicate trips that have ratios greater than 1.5 (in other words, the AAR trips were more than 50% longer than comparable fixed route trips. Trip #1 indicates ratios of 1.8 for
The six entries that are both bold and shaded indicate AAR trips that appear to be significantly long compared to both
For complete information of this table, go to D
Information about the adequacy of resources available to provide the ADA Complementary Paratransit service as required by the USDOT ADA Regulations was collected and examined as part of the review. This included:
Following is a summary of observations in each of these areas.Consumer Comments
Resource issues identified by representatives of the disabled community and the Disabled in Action Report and a review of complaints on file with AAR were concern about inconsistent vehicle maintenance and a high driver turnover rate that they attributed to low pay rates. One indicated that drivers were insensitive. Otherwise there appeared to be no concerns directly related to resources.Vehicle Fleet and Vehicle Availability
NYCT Managers indicated that the vans in the passenger fleet are configured with five passenger seats and two spaces for wheel chairs. The passenger fleet is owned by NYCT and leased to each of the operators for a fee of $1 per vehicle per month. The equipment is insured by MTA as part of a bulk insurance policy.
NYCT managers indicated that they assign vehicles to operators sufficient to serve peak route assignments plus spare vehicles equal to or exceeding 10% of the number needed to meet peak service requirements. Assignment of vehicles to each of the operators is presented in Table X.1.
A randomly selected weekday, Wednesday, August 20t, 2003, was selected to review equipment availability against equipment needs. Since the size of the AAR fleet has been expended, the fleet size and assignment at the time of the field assessment is also presented in the table. The
On the sample day MV, PTM and Transit Facilities Management had only one or two vehicles available beyond what was needed for service. PTM had 92% of its fleet available for service on August 20, 2003, indicating a potential shortage in equipment. Subsequent expansion of its fleet by ten vehicles should have adequately addressed this potential shortage. MV and Transit Facilities Management had 86% and 79% of their fleets available for the service day, respectively. The number of vehicles unavailable for service indicates potential equipment or maintenance problems. MV managers indicated that some vehicles reported as unavailable could be placed in service if needed. MV drivers also noted problems with equipment maintenance.
NYCT transportation and maintenance supervisors inspect 20% of the fleet each month during unannounced field surveys. NYCT also reviews pre-trip inspections twice a month and reviews preventative maintenance logs of each of the operators. Ten dollars in liquidated damages is assessed to the operator for each violation of contract requirements for the vehicles.Personnel
As discussed in other parts of this report staffing of the call center, scheduling and dispatch functions appears to be adequate and not limit service. Capabilities of dispatchers appeared to vary, which is to be expected in a large organization in which the experience of the dispatchers also varies significantly. In addition, as observed during this review, staff involved in management of AAR service at all levels appeared to be professional, highly experienced and dedicated to provision of public service.
Reviewers analyzed driver tenure based upon drivers who were employed on September 8, 2003. The results are presented in Table X.2.
The lowest tenure rates belong to some of the newer operators. The current contracts have been in effect since August of 2001, approximately two years before September 2003. Maggies, one of the newer operators, had average driver employment of less than one year. Atlantic, a long time contractor, has the highest tenure rates with an average period of driver employment of 3.7 years. Only 10.7 % of its drivers have worked for less than 1 year, while 78.3 % have worked for more than three years.
Each of the operators employs union drivers. TFM, Maggies, Atlantic and MV all have labor contracts with ATU. ATU driver hourly compensation is $11.00 initially, $12.38 after one year and $12.73 after two years. Drivers also receive four paid holidays and one paid sick day and are eligible to participate medical insurance, sharing the premium costs with the operator. PT also reported starting salaries of $11.00 per hour with annual increases and co-paid medical insurance, but no retirement program.
School bus operators (which pay approximately $15 an hour), fixed route operators and other AAR contract operators compete for drivers. TFM operates fixed route services, which draw from their AAR driver pool. TFM reported driver shortages and problems in retaining drivers with an attrition rate of 80% from application through testing and training to two weeks of operation. With a recent training class they reported losing 16 of 20 applicants during drug testing, an additional applicant during training and 2 during the first two weeks of operation. PT indicated that turnover is normal and that recruitment efforts have improved with increases in unemployment. Short periods of tenure for drivers at Maggies and MV Transportation may also be an indication of problems with recruiting and retaining drivers. Given the apparent stability of the labor force of the three long-term operators: American, Atlantic, and RJR, the stability of the newer contractors labor force may be expected to improve over time. This improvement may be accelerated with higher unemployment rates increasing the available work force.
TFM and PT recruit drivers through newspaper ads, TFM also uses bumper stickers and social service agencies. PT also uses dispatchers as back-up drivers when needed.Planning, Budgeting, and Funding
Table X.3 shows NYCT Paratransit budget and expenditures between 2000 and 2003.
NYCT managers described the budget process as follows. NYCT's fiscal year begins on January 1 and ends on December 31. The NYCT President begins the annual budget process in May with the issuance of guidance memo and budget targets. NYCT departments, including the Department of Buses, Division of Paratransit, develop budget proposals in early June. In mid-June NYCT's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) develops a preliminary budget and financial proposal for review with the NYCT President and submittal to the MTA. In mid-July MTA submits the budget to the MTA Board for approval.
NYCT's OMB estimates passenger demand for the upcoming year. Estimates are based upon model projections of the annual market for ADA Complementary Paratransit services in New York City. The model projections are based upon the demographics of the City. Factors used in the model are applied to the most recently available number of AAR registrants and requested and completed AAR passenger trips. The projection of completed trips is applied to a productivity factor based upon empirical data for AAR for recent years to estimate the number of vehicle hours for each operator. The estimator adjusts allocation of vehicle hours among operators, as needed, to remain within contract limits. NYCT managers indicated that NYCT could amend contracts to increase vehicle hours as needed. Contract rates are applied to vehicle hours to estimate budget amounts for each of the operators. In similar fashion, the empirical call volumes are used to project call volumes for the budget year. NYCT applies contract rates to the call volume to estimate the budget for operation of the call Center by First Transit. NYCT estimates the budget for remaining management and eligibility staffing directly. NYCT managers indicated that the number of these positions is stable although there has been recent expansion in the scheduling and eligibility staffs. Building overhead is paid directly by MTA and is not included in the AAR budget.
New York state general revenues, through MTA, ($128 million); New York City ($20.5 million); and fare revenues ($5 million) finance the $153.5 million AAR budget.Findings
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