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Center Identification Number:  77606      

 

Project Title:  Creative Ways to Manage Paratransit Costs   

 

Co-Principal Investigators:        

Jay Goodwill
Phone: (813) 974-8755
E-mail: jaygoodwill@cutr.usf.edu

Cheryl Thole
Research Associate
Phone: (813) 974-9920
E-Mail: thole@cutr.usf.edu

Institution:                             

 

Center for Urban Transportation Research

University of South Florida

Fax: 813-974-5168

 

External Project Contact:     

 

Tara Bartee

Public Transportation Office / Transit Planning

850-414-4529

Email: tara.bartee@dot.state.fl.us

 

 

I.  Project Objective/Problem Statement

The Transportation Research Board’s Committee on Paratransit states that “paratransit” means alongside transit. It includes all public and private mass transportation in the spectrum between private automobile and conventional transit. Paratransit modes are usually demand responsive and provide shared rides.

With the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), the traditional delivery of paratransit services by social service agencies has changed. The passage of the ADA and its requirements to provide complementary paratransit services had put all public transit operators into the paratransit business. The resultant changes in organizational structures, internal procedures, and the use of technology has reduced the distinction between fixed route and paratransit services.

As communities are moving toward providing a wide range of public transportation services – commonly referred to as the “family of services” – one common concern is the rising costs of providing services, specifically those services falling under the paratransit umbrella. Paratransit services, while most efficient to provide specialized needs service or service to low-density areas and most effective in providing “life sustaining” transportation for the most vulnerable citizens, are typically the most expensive, least available, and most difficult to coordinate. Cities, counties, states and other transportation agencies that provide or purchase paratransit services are continually pursuing methods to contain, control or reduce paratransit costs.

II.  Objectives/Tasks

This project has three primary, but related, objectives:

First, this study will provide an overview of the different types of paratransit services offered throughout Florida and the United States, including the funding sources and applicable regulations. Differences between urban and rural, ADA and non-ADA, and other variations of paratransit service delivery will be detailed.

The second project objective is to identify the trends in the costs of providing paratransit services and detail the major expense categories and factors impacting these cost centers.

The final project objective will be to identify public transportation providers who have been successful in developing and implementing cost containment strategies for controlling and reducing paratransit costs. Emphasis will placed on identifying those initiatives that reach beyond the standard increased productivity and scheduling efficiencies. The findings will be reported in a best practices/lessons learned format.

The proposed scope of services for this project consists of the following tasks.

Task 1. Establishment of Steering Committee

A project advisory committee consisting of representatives from organizations such as the Florida Public Transportation Association (FPTA), the Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged, and the Florida Association of Coordinated Transit Systems (FACTS) will be organized to provide guidance and oversight throughout the project. CUTR’s Microsoft Office Live Meeting online communication services will be utilized to facilitate the committee meetings in an effective and cost efficient manner.

Task 2. Literature Review

The investigators will review and summarize previous studies related to paratransit. The results of this task will help provide the overview of the different types of paratransit services offered; document the major the trends in the costs of providing paratransit services and detail the major expense categories and factors impacting these cost centers; and, to identify public transportation providers who have been successful in developing and implementing cost containment strategies for controlling and reducing paratransit costs.

Task 3. Definition of Paratransit Service Types

Utilizing the results of Task 2, an overview of the different types of paratransit services offered throughout Florida and the United States, including the funding sources and applicable regulations will be developed. Differences between urban and rural, ADA and non-ADA, and other variations of paratransit service delivery will be detailed.

Task 4. Identification of Paratransit Cost Centers and Fiscal Trends

Utilizing information from the previous tasks, as well as financial data from the National Transit Database (NTD) reports and the Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged’s Annual Operation Reports, the trends in the costs of providing paratransit services and the major expense categories and factors impacting these cost centers will be identified and documented.

Task 5. Identification of Successful Cost Management Strategies

This task will utilize the findings of the previous tasks to identify public transportation providers who have been successful in developing and implementing cost containment strategies for controlling and reducing paratransit costs. Emphasis will placed on identifying those initiatives that reach beyond the standard increased productivity and scheduling efficiencies.

A survey will be developed and distributed to all Florida public paratransit service providers and some selective national providers to identify existing practices and efforts to manage and contain paratransit costs.

Task 6. Documentation of Best Practices

Based upon the literature review, responses from the survey, and other contacts, a select number of the successful cost management strategies will be examined in greater depth and documented in succinct “Best Practices” case study summaries. This may include on-site visits and/or follow up discussions with key agency representatives.

Task 7. Final Report

The final task of the research will summarize the results of the previous tasks in order to develop a report on the “Creative Ways to Manage Paratransit Costs”. The report will be designed in a clear, concise summary format that will facilitate easy reading and application by public transit provider professionals.

A Power-Point presentation will also be developed to share the project findings with the Florida transit systems.

CUTR will coordinate the project with the Florida Public Transportation Association (FPTA), the Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged, the Florida Association of Coordinated Transit Systems (FACTS) to ensure the scope and activities are consistent with Florida public transportation industry’s goals and objectives. It is understood that travel by CUTR and the FDOT Project Manager, within the budget of the project, will be necessary for collecting information, attending project review meetings and related conferences in order to gather and share information related to the project mission. Particular locations where CUTR staff may travel within the State of Florida include Tallahassee, Orlando, Palm Beach, Jacksonville, and Volusia and Putnam counties. Travel throughout the U.S. may include Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Houston, and Boston.

III. Deliverables

Deliverables for this project will include the following:

Quarterly Progress Reports – These will be provided to the FDOT Project Manager and the Research Office. Reports will include the following sections:

    1. Work done in quarter being reported
    2. Work to be done in next quarter
    3. Requested modifications to Scope, Budget, or Schedule, as appropriate
    4. An updated schedule

Technical Memorandum 1 – Technical Memorandum 1 will summarize the findings of the first four tasks: the establishment of the project advisory committee, the literature review, the definition of paratransit service types, and the identification of paratransit cost centers and fiscal trends.

Technical Memorandum 2 – Technical Memorandum 2, to be submitted at the end of Task 5, will summarize related research efforts and the findings of the survey of Florida and selective national paratransit service providers directed toward identifying existing practices and efforts to manage and contain paratransit costs.

Final Report – Following the completion of Task 7, a Draft Final Report will be submitted for review. Upon approval, a Final Report will be submitted in printed (12 copies) and electronic format (Word). A project summary (in Word) will also be submitted with the Final Report, per FDOT format.

NOTE: All written deliverables will be submitted in electronic format to the Research Center for processing. Electronic reports will be e-mailed to Sandra Bell at sandra.bell@dot.state.fl.us. Hard copies will be sent to the following address:

Sandra Bell, Research Contracts Administrator
Florida Department of Transportation
605 Suwannee Street, MS 30
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0450

 

IV.  Project Schedule

 

        2006                       2007  
RESEARCH 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
TASK J F M A M J J A S O N D J F M A M J
Task 1 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Establishment of Steering Committee 60% 100%                                
Task 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Literature Review 7% 15% 45% 73% 100%                          
Task 3 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Definition of Paratransit Service Types     22% 43% 65% 77% 88% 100%                    
Task 4 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Identification of Paratransit Cost Centers and Fiscal Trends     18% 36% 54% 72% 90% 100%                    
Task 5 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Identification of Successful Cost Management Strategies         10% 20% 31% 41% 61% 80% 100%              
Task 6 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1
Documentation of Best Practices               9% 22% 35% 48% 61% 74% 87% 100%      
Task 7 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2
Final Report                             15% 31% 53% 100%

 

V.  Project Budget

 

Creative Ways to Manage Paratransit Costs

Budget Categories

State

Center Director Salary

 

Faculty Salaries

$ 36,175

Admin. Staff Salaries

$     344

Other Staff Salaries

 

Student Salaries

$  7,864

Staff Benefits

$ 17,201

Total Salaries and Benefits

$ 61,584

Scholarships

 

Permanent Equipment

 

Expendable Property/Supplies

$   1,844

Domestic Travel

$   8,000

Foreign Travel

 

Other Direct Costs

 

Total Direct Costs

$ 71,429

Indirect Costs

$   3,571

Total Costs

$ 75,000

 

Notes: This budget does not reflect any federal participation. The project team will include faculty, students, and secretarial and other support staff who will work directly on the project and whose costs are reflected in the direct costs of the project as listed above. Budget requests includes salaries for clerical and administrative staff, postage, telephone calls, office supplies, general purpose software, subscriptions, and/or memberships.

 

VI. Equipment

No equipment is envisioned to be purchased under this project.

VII. Travel

On-site interviews with transit agency paratransit service provider personnel will occur at up to 6 transit agencies within Florida (6) and the U.S. (4) and project management meeting in Tallahassee and Tampa. Out of state on-site visits will provide a perspective of leading national transit agency’s policy and procedures related to the provision and management of paratransit services.

 

 

National Center for Transit Research · at the Center For Urban Transportation Research · University of South Florida · 4202 E. Fowler Ave., CUT100 · Tampa, FL 33620-5375 · (813) 974-3120 · (813) 974-5168 · www.nctr.usf.edu · Comments: webmaster@cutr.eng.usf.edu