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Evaluation of the role of the MDTA Metrobus operations supervisor


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Evaluation of the role of the MDTA Metrobus operations supervisor
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1 online resource (iv, 54 p.) : ill. ;
Volinski, Joel
University of South Florida -- Center for Urban Transportation Research
Metropolitan Dade County Transit Agency
University of South Florida, Center for Urban Transportation Research
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Bus lines -- Management -- Evaluation -- Florida -- Miami Metropolitan Area   ( lcsh )
Local transit -- Management -- Evaluation -- Florida -- Miami Metropolitan Area   ( lcsh )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


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by the Center for Urban Transportation Research, College of Engineering, University of South Florida ; prepared for the Metro-Dade Transit Agency.
General Note:
Title from e-book t.p. (viewed Aug. 17, 2011).
General Note:
"Principal author, Joel Volinski"--Page after t.p.
General Note:
"June 1996."

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oclc - 747048974
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Evaluation of the role of the MDTA Metrobus operations supervisor
h [electronic resource] /
by the Center for Urban Transportation Research, College of Engineering, University of South Florida ; prepared for the Metro-Dade Transit Agency.
[Tampa] :
b University of South Florida, Center for Urban Transportation Research,
1 online resource (iv, 54 p.) :
Title from e-book t.p. (viewed Aug. 17, 2011).
"Principal author, Joel Volinski"--Page after t.p.
"June 1996."
Bus lines
z Florida
Miami Metropolitan Area
x Management
Local transit
Miami Metropolitan Area
1 700
Volinski, Joel.
2 710
University of South Florida.
Center for Urban Transportation Research.
Metropolitan Dade County Transit Agency.
i Print version:
t Evaluation of the role of the MDTA Metrobus operations supervisor.
d [Tampa] : University of South Florida, Center for Urban Transportation Research, [1996]
w (OCoLC)35901741
Center for Urban Transportation Research Publications [USF].
4 856




EVALUATION OF THE ROLE OF THE MDTA METROBUS OPERATIONS SUPERVISOR Prepared for. the Metro-Dade Transit Agency by the Center for Urban Transportation Research College of Engineering University of South Florida CU1R June 1996


CENTER FOR URBAN TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH (CUTR) COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA Gary L. Brosch, Executive Director Principal Author Joel Volinski Deputy Directorffransit Project Staff Mike Baltes, Research Associate Jesus Gome:z, Graduate Research Assistant Julee G Green, Program Assistant Reviewers Dennis Hinebaugh, Program Manager Ronald C Sheck, Program Manager Mike Baltes, Research Associate We would like to thank the MDTA Operations Managers and Supervisors for their interest and participation in this project.


TABLE OF CONTENTS Executive Summary . .. . .. . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . i Chapter 1 Review of Practices at Other Transit Agencies ......... 1 Iotroduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Statistical C.ompari.sons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Findings from Statistic:al Comparisons .. 5 Findings from Responses to Managerial Questions .......... 6 Question #1 Do you use "Starters" at transit c:enten wbo remain at those centers during tbe day to ensure schedule adherence and provide public information? .......................... 6 Question #2 How do you like your field supervisors to position themselves hh 9 7 Wit 10 t ear zones. ................................ . Question #3 What do you consider tbe three most important responsibilities of field supervisors? ........... 8 Question 114 Do you see the functions of tbe operations supervisor changing to more hybrid responsibilities (e g. maintenance, information security)? ......................................... 9 Question #5 What vehicles do your supervisors use, and what are their advantages? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . ll Question #16 Do you have or expect to have an Automated Vehicle Locating System in the near future? ........................... 14 Question #7 How will Automated Vehicle Locating Systems change the role of the field supervisor? .......................... 15 Question #8 1s there any technology other than A VL that will change the role of the field supervisor, or make tbem more effective? 17 Question #9 Do you want your field supervisors to play a more active role as the true supervisors of operators and not just monitor the system? . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . 18


Question 1110 Why do you believe some bus operators deliberately sabotage a bus system? ................................... 20 Chapter 2 Review of Current Practices at MDTA .......... 23 Introduction ....................... ...................... l3 Ride Checks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Review of Supervisor's Daily Reports ........ 26 Findings from Supervisors' Focus Groups ..... 30 Question 1111 Do you believe MDTA should use more "Starters" at transit centen! .......................................... 31 Question 1112 What do you consider the most important responsibilities of field supervison? .................................. 32 Question 1113 Do you see the functions of the supervisor changing to more hybrid responsibilities (e.g. maintenance, information, sec.urity)? ...................................... 33 Question 1114 What vehicles would you like to use to patrol your zones? 34 Question 1115 Bow will Antomated Vehicle Locating Systems change the role of the field supe-rvisor? . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . 35 Question 1116 Is there any technology other than A VL that will change the role of the field supervisor, or make them more effective? 35 Question 1117 Do you want field supervisors to play a more active role as the true supervisors of operators and not just monitor tbe system? 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 36 Question 1118 Why do you believe some bus operators deliberately sabotage a bus system? .................................. 37 Summary .............................................. 38 Chapter 3 Findings and Recommendations .......... 39 General Observations and Conclusions 39


Findings from Peer Survey ............ 40 Basis for Recommendations ....................................... 43 Recommendations .............................................. 44 Summary .......... SO


APPENDICES Appendix A ..................................................... 51 Appendix B . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 TABLES Table I Statistical Comparisons Between Transit Agencies .......... 4 TableD Field Super:visor Vehicle Types by Transit Agency ........ 12 Table m Presence of Automated Vehicle Locating Systems in Peer Transit Agencies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Table IV Comparisons of Frequency of Incidents per Transit Agency ... 29



EWIIualion of the Role of the !v{[)TA Metrobus Operation.t Supervisor helpful in assisting the disabled navigate the fixed route transit system, thus encouraging more mainstreaming of disabled passengers from paratransit to transit. Supervisors throughout the nation are also beginn i ng to emphasize improved communications with bus operators. Bus operators the "ambassadors" of a transit system, typically have minimal direct contact with anyone in a transit agency. Their resulting isolation can contribute to a lack of commitment. This can result in a h i gh cost to the performance of a transit agency, manifested through expensive operator absenteeism and passenger complaints about drivers' behavior. To address this deficiency, a few transit agencies are asking their operations supervisors to take a more active role in establishing a closer relationship with bus operators Supervisors provide the vital link that can help keep bus operators feeling that someone io the agency cares about their well being. In this regard, supervisors are assuming the role of coaches rather tbao the traditional role of system compliance officers In response to the fiscal constraints most transit systems are experiencing, more transit agencies are "multi-taSking" their field supervisors. While operations supervisors have numerous activities to carry out each day, their value to transit agencies is being increased by their assumption of new duties that help the passengers, operators, other transit agency staff, and the general public. The te l ephone survey provided valuable information on bow supervisors in other transit agencies are gaining greater skills in mechanical troubleshooting to help keep a bus in service, cleaning graffiti from transit fac i lities, attending community meetings that take place in their zones, overseeing facilities and vehic l e cleaning at transit centers etc In general, supervisors at other transit systems are becoming more visionary and less reactionary. Technology such as A VL and lap top computers are tools that enable supervisors to change their emphasis from finding problems to preventing or fixing problems. Supervisors are becoming more assertive managers of their zones rather than reactive agents responding to the next problem broadcast over the radio. The equipment and vehicles being used by supervisors are helping to redefine the role of the field supervisor. In the majority of peer systems the vehicles used by supervisors are either the "four-by-four" ("Sport Utility") or a van These vehicles are better suited to carry not only the various items supervisors must have available, but passengers and bus operators as well. More systems are allowing supervisors to use cellular phones for handling matters that don't need to go through the central communications center, to handle emergency matters in the shortest possible time, and to communicate directly with other transit personnel such as maintenance mechanics, operations managers, or customer service agents. Findings from the peer survey pro v ide sufficient evidence tbat some transit agencies have been able to redirect or supplement the priority responsibilities of their field supervisors. These actions should serve as an assurance that it is possible to introduce change in an 11


Ewll14ari011 ofth.e Role of the A1DTA,\4etr'Oblls Operation-s Swpcrvisor environment not known for innovation. However the specific actions MOTA should pursue in modifying their supervisors' activities should be guided by the agency s priorities as listed in the recently adopted /995 Strategic Management Plan. The critical success factors identified in that plan ate for MOTA to secure sufficient funding, gain community support for tran sit, achieve customer-oriented performance, maintain a dedicated and skilled workforce engage in extensive internal information shating, and procure and maintain equipment and facilities required to provide customer satisfaction. Using these critical success factors as a guide, it becomes fairly easy to see how MDT A should redirect its supervisors' r espon sibili ties. Cleatly, field supervisors can help MDT A save money by encouraging bus operators to perform at their best and, through better relationships with bus operators hopefully reduce the incidents of illegitimate absences They can help generate support for transit by being more interactive with passengers and with community groups. Supervisors can improve customer satisfaction by providing them with information and a greater sense of security by being more visible at transit centers, and by helping buses remain io service by more effectively troubleshooting mechanical problems with buses that ate subject to road calls. Supervisors can also improve the communications within the agency by providing bus operators with information on agency initiatives and progress, while providing planning and schedu l ing managers with their insights on needs for service adjustments and improvements. They can he l p maintain facilities throughout the service area by carrying cleaning equ i pment to remove graffiti from shelters or bus stop signs. They can also monitor the activities of cleaners at transit centers who pick up trash at the centers and from buses that enter the centers The MOTA must, in tum take steps that benefit the supervisors so they may do the best job possible with i n their zones. Observations revealed that field supervisors are somewhat dispiri ted and need a reaffirmation of their importance within the organization. Fat from being at a point of crisis there are great opportunities to regain the supervisors' enthusiasm. The MDTA should take the following specific actions to modify the role and responsibilities o f their field supervisors: I Improve the agency s communication with supervisors and encourage their active participation in service planning, scheduling, and marketing 2 Take consis tent correct ive actions with bus operators who violate fundamental service standards and keep supervisors apprised of the results of such actions 3. Encourage more positive interaction between supervisors and operators to develop a better understanding of bus operators needs and to develop a greater se.nse of trust and teamwork. 4. Provide more skills development training for supervisors to allow them to perform new duties to foster the achievement of the agency's critical success factors. l1l


valuation of the Role Q[the MOTA Metrobus Operation$ Supervisor 5. Provide new v e hicles and equipment that will change the image of the field supervisor and allow them to perform their roles more effect i v ely 6 Place full-time starters at th ree transit centers and direct all other fie ld supervisors to s pend more time at othe r transit centers interacting with passengers and bus oper a tors 7. Cha lle nge th e supervisors to perform as many tasks as they can to add value to the organization and improve serv ice t o the public. 8 Improve bus maintenance performance and modify service truck sche d ules so there is road call service c o verage throughout all shifts. I V


Evalltalion of tJJe RolE' of the MDTA .lvfetrobus Operafl'ons S11pervi:ror Chapter 1 Review of Practices at Other Transit Agencies Introduction The purpose of this chapter is to examine how transit agencies throughout the United States are utili'!'ing and deploying bus operations field supervisors The Center for Urban Transponation Research (C UTR) developed a series of quest ion s concerning field supervisors' most important responsibi lities, the equipment and vehic les they use, bow supervisors are deployed in the field and how their roles are changing (if at all) with the introduction of new technology. Most of these q uestions focused on managerial issues of how to best use the available field supervisory resources In response to an issue that has been the subject of debate at the Metro-Dade Transit Agency (MDT A), each transit agency surveyed was asked if i t utilized "sta rters (tennioal supervisors) in addition to mobile field supervisors Another question of special interest was asked: "Why do some bus operators deliberately sabo t age a bus system and thereby require close supervis i on"? The answer to this question can help determine what the priorities of the bus operations field supervisor should be In addition the survey asked a series of stati stical questions designed to allow MDTA to compare its level of investment in field supervisors to other transit systems For reference, Appendix A contains a copy of the survey Telephone interviews were conducted with rep resentati ves of 16 transit systems in the U ni ted States Systems contacted as part of a previous CUTR study for MDTA on bus operator productivity and efficiency fonned the basis of the peer group The primary emphasis was on including systems of approximately the same size as MOTA, that operate both rail and bus services where possible In addition, transit systems utilizing, or soon to be utilizing, automated vehicle locating systems were of panicular i nterest. The person contacted at each system was generally the Director of Operations or person most responsible for the field supervision function In all cases these managers were completely familiar with the roles and responsibil i ties of the field supervisors and with overall agency ini tiatives. A ppend i x B contains a list of individuals interviewed at all of tbe transit agenc1es Fo llowing this introductory section, the chapter presents survey results in the areas of statistical comparison of square miles of coverage per supervisor, operators per supervisor, and peak buses per supervisor. A table summarizing this information allows quick statist ical comparisons of the resources dedicated to field supervision by l\IDTA and the 16 peer agencies. After this, the responses to managerial questions are provided in summarized form I


Evaluanon ofdte llole of the !viJ)TAMetr()bus Opttratioru Suptrvlsor to indicate how field supervisors are being used now and what changes may be occurring in their duties in the future. The following agencies were included in the survey: t Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) t Maryland Mass Transit Administra t ion (Ba l timore area) t Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) t Area Rapid Transit Authority (DART) t Regional Transit District (Denver) t Metropolitan Transit Authority (Houston area) t Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) t Metropolitan Transit Commission (Minneapolis MTC) t Orange County Transit Authority (Anaheim OCT A) t Pon Authority of Allegheny County (Pittsburgh areaPAT) t Sacramento Regional Transit District (RTD) t BiState Development Agency (St. Louis area) t San Diego Transit Corporation t Santa Clara County Transit District (San Jose are a) t King County Met r o (Seattle area) t Tri-County Met ropolitan Transit District of Oregon (Ponland area) t Metro Dade Transit Agency (Miami area) 2


Evaluation of the Role of the lviDTA Metrobus Operations Statistical Comparisons CUTR surveyed aU 16 peer transit agencies in Fall 1995. The first four survey questions were statistical in nature. These questions were designed to allow a rough statistical comparison of how the different agencies invested in the field supervision function. The questions asked were: l. How many field operations supervisors does the agency deploy during peak and off-peak shifts? 2. How many bus operators (including full and part-time) are in your agency? 3. What is the agency's peak vehicle pullout? 4. How large is the agency's service area? The answers to these questions are summarized in Table 1. The data was provided by agency personnel and cross-checked, when possible, against Section 15 reports. The number of buses doesn't include paratransit vehicles The number of operators represents the total number of bus operators (both full-time and part-time). "Field supervisors" don't include dispatchers or radio (communications) supervisors who operate from a facility during their shifts. The answers to these questions allow ratios to be developed for each agency in the following categor i es: I. The number of square miles of service area per peak hour supervisor. This ratio provides an average size of supervisors zones and allows agencies to compare the size of average zones as one measure of bow they invest in field supervision. It helps to demonstrate the importance of a service area's size in deciding how many field supervisors to deploy. 2 The number of peak hour buses per peak hour field supervisor. This ratio allows agencies to compate each other's investment in field supervision in terms of service units in need of supervision. 3. The number of operators per peak hour field supervisor. This ratio allows agencies to compare each other's investment in field supervision in terms of bus operator personnel in need of supervision. 3


Eval uation of tlte Role of dte j\1DTA ,\1errobus Operations Supctvisor Table 1 Statist ical Co mpari sons Between Peer Transit Agencies .. . P.fak PW< Strt'" orBus Sqqa,re m.Uts . oprr:aion I . I P'*"-)lour In>' Sui p,tr&tore P< .. 50 .. )-.,;. .. ' (l'

of the Role of the AIDTA Metrol)ll$ OJHraticm.s Supervisor Findings from Statistical Comparisons The statistical comparisons of MDTA to 16 other agencies of similar size indicate that, on average, MDT A invests more heavily in field supervision than other transit agencies. In terms of service area, MDTA tends to invest much more heavily than the peer group average. This is evidenced by the fact that MDTA bas 29 square miles per peak field supervisor versus 125 square miles per peak field supervisor for the peer group. In other words, the average size of an MDTA field supervisor's zone is considerably smaller than virtually all other transit agencies in the peer group Only one agency (Milwaukee County) had a smaller ratio (27 square miles per peak field supervisor) There are three agencies (Bi-State, Denver RTD and King County) with unusually large service areas that might skew this average If those systems were removed from the peer group the average for the remaining 14 agenc i es is calculated to be 86 square miles per peak field supervisor. MDTA would still be almost three times more heavily invested in field supervision in terms of area served. MDTA is much nearer tbe peer group norm in terms of the number of peak buses per field supervisor, with 50 buses per supervisor for MDTA versus 65 buses per supervisor for the peer group. Five of the 16 other agenc i es committed more field supervisory resources than MDTA in terms of service units supervised. In addition, the range of ratios from highest(96: I) to lowest (39 : I) was much more narrow than the ranges for sel'Vice area miles per supervisor (597 : I to 27: 1). Similar results are observed in the ratios of operators to peak hour supervisors. MDTA 's ratio (113: 1) is fairly close to the peer group's average (134: 1). Six of the peer group agencies committed more supervisory resources in terms of bus operators supel'Vised than MDT A. Once again, the range of ratios from highest (200: I) to lowest (65: I) was much more narrow than the range for ratios of service area miles per supervisor (597: I to 27:1) It should be kept in mind that the averag e ratios do not necessarily represent a correct standard for tbe transit industry. There is no textbook standard that provides the "right" number of field supervisors a transit agency should have. E ach agency makes their own determination based on local circumstances. For instance according to the Texas Transportation Institute, MDT A operates in an area with the fourth highest level of traffic congestion in tbe country and the highest in the peer group. Hence, field supervisor zones might need to be somewhat smaller in Dade County to accommodate the extra time it takes to travel within a zone. MOTA field supervisors who participated in a focus group as part of this study also noted the lack of efficient superhighways that would otherwise allow them to respond to calls for assistance more quickly. The average ratios provide a basis for comparison and, i n the absence of standards, serve as a possible benchmark. Every operations manager surveyed believed they could use more field supervisors to help ensure quality service was provided to their customers. 5


Evaluation of the 'Role of the MDTA Metrobu$ Operotions Supervisor Based on the previous comparisons, it appears MDT A invests in operations field supervision at a higher level than its peers As noted earlier MDT A is relati vely close to its peers in terms of vehicles and operators per supervisor. On average MDT A's field supervisors are responsible for far less area than field supervisors of other agencies. If it is agreed that operators and vehicles are more important to supervise than geographic area one could conclude that MDT A's overall level of bus operations field supervision is only slightly higher than its peers. However, the supervisors might be deployed differently within the service area since MDT A's average supervisor's zone of 29 square miles is significantly smaller than the peer group's average of 125 square miles. This conclusion, gained from reviewing statistical ratios, is supported by a number of other research findings. Clearly, when MOTA's Automated Vehicle Locating system becomes operational in Sp ring 1996, there will be a greatly redu ced need for field supervisors to monitor bus schedule adherence in remote service areas. The amount of mobile patrolling currently performed by field supervisors could be reduced accordingly CUTR representatives wbo rode with six different field supervisors found these patrols to be only marginally productive, as presently conducted The most progressive Ope rations managers surveyed in the peer group identified a need for field supervisors to have increased communications with operators and customers. These objectives are also consistent with the Critical Success Factors i ncluded in MDT A's 1995 Strategic Management Plan. There are only umited opportunities to perform these functions in a roving patro l vehicle However, these objectives could be achieved through more concentration of field supervision at transit centers where buses, operators and passengers converge. MOTA could accomplish these objectives without adding resources by deploying more of their supervisors at transit centers for part or all, of a shift Findings from Responses to Managerial Questions This section of the technical memorandum summarizes peer agencies' res ponses to a number of questions that go beyond statistical comparisons These questions focus on the issues of how to utilize, deploy and equip bus field supervisors. Question #I: Do you use "Starters" at transit centers who remain at those centers during the day to ensure schedule adherence and provide public information? In general, most systems surveyed don't use "Start ers". Two systems (MARTA and Houston) use "poin t supervisors" at key rail stations or downtown locations during the peak hours. These positions work with large splits in their workday. Similarly, other agencies such as Cleve land and PAT position their road supervisors during rush hours at critical downtown locations (throats) where many bus routes and trains converge. One agency (Maryland) indicated that i t has no transit centers and, consequently no need for starters 6


EvaluuliQn (Jj tlu: Role <(the MDTA M4ltrobus Operatiom Supe!"l'isor The majority of peer agencies indicated they ask their road supervisors to check on transfer centers as part of their zone coverage responsibilities, particularly during the rush hour and on an ad hoc basis. One agency (DART) uses "Station Agents" (not field supervisors) to assist with public information, while Santa Clara positions security agents at key light rail stations and bus transfer centers to provide security and information. Most agencies surveyed would like more resources for performing the Starter function. They could serve as schedule monitors passenger assistants and an element of security by their mere presence. They could also be in a better position to communicate with and assist bus operators, as well as serve as a quality control agent for drivers' uniforms, bus and transit center cleanliness, transfers, etc. Starters can also help the process of mainstreaming paratransit passengers to fixed route transit by serving as "travel hosts" at transit centers. They can provide assistance to disabled passengers and reinforce travel training for both the physically and developmentally challenged. Question #2: Bow do you like your field supervisors to position themselves within their zone? The most common response to this question reflected a level of trust in field supervisors' experience and judgement. This was demonstrated by phrases such as "They should be wherever they need to be'' ; "We let them do their job", and "The zone is theirs to cover". There were suggestions that offer more detailed guidelines. Many agencies provide specific assignments at tbe beginning of a shift. This may involve following up on a passenger complaint or an operator suggestion doing time checks at a certain location for scheduling purposes, or other matters pre-determined by the road supervisors or their superiors. One agency encourages the field supervisor to check each route each day for problems, while another suggests doing this at least once a week. Of course, all agencies agree the field supervisor must maintain close contact with the radio and respond to whatever emergencies or incidents require their attention They should also be aware of what may be happening in the zones next to them, and be prepared to respond if the supervisor in that zone is occupied by an accident. Most agencies prefer their supervisors to be present at transit centers (particularly intennodal centers) or terminals during rush hours They can control bus traffic from this location and provide some presence for both operators and passengers. Similarly, supervisors should position themselves in the outskirts of the urban area if most service starts from there in the morning. If most of the buses pass through "choke points" in the rush hour, supervisors should con.centrate their efforts there. If there are detours, supervisors should stay close to those locations, if possible. If new service is added, or existing service changed, road 7


Ela/u{lrion Qjthe Role oftlte MDTA Mttrobus Opemtions Supetvisor supervisors should spend more time in those locations to ensure that bus operators and passengers understand the new service. There are differences of opinion on how much time supervisors should spend in the ir vehicles. Some agencies want them to rove their zone as much as possible for purposes of both ensuring compliance and making thems el ves available as a resource to operators. A number of ag encies noted they don't want their supervisors locations to be pred ictable to bus operators. Some field supervisors average almost 200 miles per day in their vehicles. Ot her agencies want supervisors to spend less time in their cars and more time with operators and passengers. One agency wants the i r field supervisors to spend at least half the day in the office or at a trans i t center fo r the purposes of better planning and managing their zone and communicating with operators Exactly how to position field supervisors will vary based on the goals or managemen t strategies o f each agency the quality of the work force, the trust between labor and management, and the leve l of avai lab l e resources Many agencies are leaning toward supervisors being more of a resource to operators passengers and the community, while putting less emphasis on the role of"system compliance officer". As one agency with very limited supervisory resources not ed, if compliance is the objecti ve, an agency will never have e nough supervision Question #3: What do you cons ider the three most important respon si bilities of field supervisors? This question evoked a variety of responses. Eleven diffe rent activities were identified, even t hough each agency was asked to identify only the three most imponant. One very common response could be described as "to do whatever it takes to ensure quality service" This inf erence could be drawn from responses such as "ensuring service reliability", "preserving the service" "controlling the service", "making sure the system is functioning", "ensuring service is moving", maintaining smooth servic e", et c. This is a valid answer to those familiar with day-to-day bus operations where anything can happen on any given day, but it is not qu ite descriptive enough for the purposes of unders tand ing the distinct func t ions performed by the field supervisor. The following list includes the field supervisors' activities that were identified as one of the three most imponant responsibilities by the \6 peer agencies The number next to the responsibility identifies bow many of the 1 6 peer transit agencies considered it one of the top thr e e responsibilities: Accident Investigation and R epor1i n g ........................ , .. .. . . 15 Schedule A dhtrr nce Mon i toring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Operat r.!i' Need$ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Specia l Nceth such as Detour& and Special El'Cnt.s . . . . . . . . . . . 8 8


Evaluation Q/tht RQie oftht MDTAMetrobus Operati01u Supervisor CUstomer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Coun.sellng JtDd Supervision of Operaton ..... . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Follow-up on Cosnplatnts ............................ . . . . . . . . . 2 Feedback to Management on bow to Improve .................. . 1 Checking Rout .. for Problenu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Minor mec:bani

El'Diuation of the Role of the MDTA MetP'Obus Operations Supervisor Public transit is experiencing a re-awakening of its true nature as a customer driven service. Federal funding for transit is decreasing substantially, and local taxpayers are showing resistance to higher taxes when given the opportunity in referenda. Consequently, transit agencies are going to have to do more with limited resources if they are to survive They must become more attentive to passenger needs if they are to increase ridership and farebox revenue Bus operations field supervisors are in an excellent position to contribute to improved efficiencies and better customer service. Peer agencies were asked if they have taken steps to increase the responsibilities and the functions of the field supervisor in response to this new climate of reduced funding for transit. Only the Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT) has pushed the borders of what mechanical work can be done by field supervisors. PAT took the issue to arbitration with the local union and prevailed, enabling their field supervisors to perform a number of tasks that are normally associated with bus road truck mechanics. In fact, PAT's supervisors patrol their zones in three-quarter ton pick-up trucks that carry fuel, parts and equipment to keep buses in service. This seems to make perfect sense since there are more operations field s upe rvisors tban maintenance road trucks. Field supervisors can usually respond to road calls more quickly because of their greater numbers Also, it is generally agreed that good mechanics are more valuable in the shop where they can perform the maintenance required to prevent road calls in the first place. Sacramento RTD stretches their field supervisors' mechanical duties as well, using road trucks only in true emergencies such as broken glass, brake failure tire failure, etc. Most transit systems encourage their road supervisors to carry a minimal amount of tools to perform very basic repairs such as tightening or replacing mirrors replacing defective wipers or taillights, and helping bus operators with jammed fareboxes and wheelchair lifts or doors that are malfunctioning. However, very little trai ning on maintenance repairs (in most cases less than eight hours) is offered to bus operations field supervisors. There is a general feeling that local labor unions would consider this an intrusion on restrictive labor agreements and would resist giving supervisors the ability to do more repairs while buses are in service. Most Operations managers bad a hard time reconciling having non bargaining unit employees doing bargaining unit work One agency was very clear in stating they considered this a very low priority that they wouldn't push since they needed union support for service expansion. Most agencies are open to the idea of giving their operations field supervisors more training in mechanica l trouble shooting, particularly in electronic matters such as fixing digital signs by putting in new chips or fuses, changing lights swapping out fareboxes, changing circuit boards etc. Of course, this is a matter of some sensitivity not only with transit unions, but with transit maintenance departments as well. They will need to feel comfortable with field supervisors skill and judgment before encouraging them to attempt additional repairs to keep a bus in service. There was very little enthusiasm expressed for bus operations field supervisors to become more involved in peace-keeping security activities. Security is one of the fastest growing 10


Ewlluatltm ()f thtt Rol.: lv/DTA Mt:trobu.s Opcratif.>s Supcrvi.sor expenses for transit agencies, but there was little evidence that operations managers wanted to reduce this cost by giving field supervisors duties nonnally associated with police or hired security firms. The Denver RTD has given their field supervisors the responsibility of becoming fare inspectors on their proof-of-payment light rail system, with the authority to issue citations to passengers unable to present a ticket. Although Operations managers agreed their field supervisors could use more training in how to defuse situations, it was generally believed it was time to call in the professional law enforcement agents once conditions become dangerous. A number of the peer agencies have already given field supervisors expanded duties or are actively considedng expanding the functions of the field supervisor. For instance, Sacramento RTD s supervisors carry cleaning paraphernalia and consider it part of their responsibility to clean graffiti off of bus stop signs or benches. San Diego Transit's field supervisors also accept the responsibility of providing a mentoring relationship for approximately 30 bus operators per supervisor. Denver s supervisors have become breath alcohol technicians, and now administer the test on bus operators. Greater Cleveland's RTA wants field supervisors to become more effective ambassadors for the agency, and is providing additional infonnation and training to supervisors so that they may better explain the agency's programs and objectives to customers. Orange County Transit Authority is encouraging their field supervisors to attend community meetings held in their zones to become recognized as a community resource and to increase support for transit. The Maryland MTA would like the field supervisors for heavy rail light rail, and bus to have interchangeable skills to maximize their flexibility and value to the agency These agencies have recognized the importance of the field supervisor resource, and are slowly expanding the boundaries of their duties and contributions to the transit agency. 11


E''aluation of the Role ()j the lvfDTA A4etrobus Operations Supervisor Question #5: What vehi cles do your supervis ors use, and what are their advantages? Transit field supervisors use a variety of vehicles throughout the country Table 2 shows the types of vehicles being used by MDTA and the 16 peer agencies : Table 2 Field Supe rvi so r Vehicle Types by Transit Agency < Po tre/. Pac flge vdm Other A gency Jeeps I ' (_ MARTA X Maryland 1\IT A X Clenland RTA X DART X D enve.rRTD X HouatonMTA X 1\lllwaukee crs X Minneapolis MTC Mid-size car Ora n ge C o untyTA X P A T 3/4 ton truck Sacra mento RTD X Bi-State DA X San D iego Tranolt X Santa Clara X Seattle Kin g County X Portland 'Iri-Met X 1\IDTA Mid-size car In Table 2 "Jeeps refer to vehicle s sometimes called four-by-fours or s port utility v e hicles inclu ding Blazers, Explorers, and Broncos Age ncies that use these vehicles find that they are good for carrying the many items required (including c ameras, sp eedy dry, to o ls, flares, cones, books, schedules, transfers, ladders, coin modules, yellow lights, etc.) by supervi sor s They are powerful enough to push vehicles when equipped with reinforced bum p ers The 12


Evaluation of the Role of the MDT A ,\4et1'obus Operariom Superviso,. higher wheel s help with flooded streets, and the slightly higher body provides better vision for the supervisor. Most agencies purchase such vehicles with only two-wheel drive un less they are going over unimproved railroad right-of-way. At least one Operations manager stated they didn't want their supervisors to be tempted to go off the road by the availability of fourwheel drive capability. PAT was the only agency in the peer comparison that used three-quarter-ton pickups as supervisory vehicles As noted earlier, PAT's field superv i sors perform a number of maintenance functions to keep buses in service. The pick-ups are heavily customized to carry tanks for transmission oil, engine oil and antifreeze as well as air bags to lift buses and spreaders for salt. These pickups also are equipped with reinforced bumpers to push buses or other vehicles when necessary to clear a street for traffic. Some agencies use the four-door sedan "police packages" that have the heavy duty features found in vehicles used by law enforcement agencies. Reasons for using these vehicles include ease of operation and costs that are approximately I 0 percent lower than jeeps since they are standardized and available through state contractS. They are large enough to carry a few passengers in an emergency and are sturdy and reliable enough to be driven as many as 300 miles per day on a frequent basis. Only two agencies (including MOTA) were found to use mid-size cars. One of those agencies simply felt that such cars could work in a transit environment as long as they are properly maintained and traded for new vehicles every 65 ,000 miles. A number of transit agencies are now using or considering changing to vans for their supervisors. Agencies with vans like the fact they are more visible and distinctive from other county cars, enab ling customers to more easily flag them down if needed. One of the agencies definitely preferred their supervisors' vehicles to look u nlike police cars Vans have considerable interior carrying capacity similar to the jeeps, and can easily carry three to five passengers. This is partic-ularly important in the event of a breakdown in bus serv ice or an unscheduled detour that may leave people waiting at bus stops for a bus that won't arrive. It was also discovered that one non-peer transit agency places bike racks on their supervisors' vans. This allows supervisors to transport a bicycle passenger in the event of an overflow on the bus, or a bus breakdown. Vans provide comfortable, climate controlled space to interview passengers who might need to be removed from a bus due to an accident or i ncident. They can also carry opera tors to and from their assignments. In particular, they can carry disabled passengers that migh t be stranded due to an inoperative bus wheelchair lift. In addition they can carry ramps that would help passengers in wheelchairs to board or alight buses with inoperative wheelchair lifts. In short, agencies using vans seem to have a higher sense that everyone's first priority in the agency is to ensure reliable mobility for their customers. 13


Evaluation of the. Q[tht. MDT A Mttrobtu OperarionJ Supervi1or Question #6: Do you have or expect to have an Automated Vehicle Locating (A VL) System in the near future? MDT A is i n the process of installing and testing an Automated Vehicle Locating (A VL) system The system is expected to be completely operational by July 1996. It will allow MOTA to monitor the location and schedu le adherence of its buses, as well as the location of their supervisory vehicles and road trucks A VL holds the promise of reducing the amount of time field supervisors need to spend on checking the routing and schedule adherence of buse s All 16 peer agencies were asked if they had such a system or were intending to install one in the near future. The responses to this question are provided in Table3. Table 3 Presence of Automated Vehicle Lo cating Systems i n Peer Transit Agencies . '.i.':i ,.: No . "'' .,.,_,, ,, 1;:!,,;;< i; I ;;': .. ,' iti);; .::. iii ;; 'On,e, :;;; 1 ,;;: "i "' A ::: -t:> .. ' Bi-State X Low priority-tight budget Cleveland X X Revit1Ning impacts DART X Cumntly testing Denver X Has helped already Houston X X Use A VL for Paratransit Seattle X Assists service analysis MARTA X X Maryland X Basics remain the same Milwaukee X Reducing supervisors Minneapolis X Testing on 80 buses Orange County X Major fiscal constraints PAT X X Doing fme without A VL Sacramento X Tight budget San Diego X W i ll cost more than it saves Santa Oara X X More proaactive supervision Portland Tri-Met X No additional supervisors 14


Emluah'on of the Role of the NfDTA Mert-obu.t Operarion.t Supuvi.tor Table 3 indicates that there are relatively few transit agencies among MOTA's peers that have AVL systems. King County (Seattle) has had a system installed longer than any other peer agency, but it is limited to vehicle location and does not produce regular schedule adherence repons The A VL systems in Denver and Milwaukee do produce schedule adherence repons, but have only recently been installed. Operating experience with these systems is very limited, but they have had some impact on field supervision, as will be shown in the information provided under Question 7. Table 3 indicates that there is considerable interest in the potential benefits of A VL, but budget constraints prevent some agencies from moving forward with testing or purchasing such systems. Some transit agencies prefer to wait for other agencies to test new products and not purchase new technology until someone else has worked out the bugs". A report entitled "A VL Systems for Bus Transit", produced for the Transportation Research Board by the Viggen Corporation, will be released by late summer 1996. That report will provide summarized highlights of how A VL is being utilized in systems of aU sizes throughout North America. Question #7: How will Automated Vehicle Locating Systems change the role of the field supervisor? The general consensus among Operations managers is that schedule monitoring constitutes between 25 to SO percent of a field supervisor's time. A VL should clearly allow field supervisors to spend not only less time on this function, but make more effective use of their time as well. A VL is regarded as a tool that should allow field supervisors to better manage their zones without the hit-and-miss method of roaming surveillance currently used The supervisor will now spend time fixing a problem rather than finding a problem. The A VL system can find problems, but won't be able to determine the cause of the schedule deviation. Supervisors will still be needed to determine the cause of schedule problems, but their efforts will be much more focused and based on sound and current information. If the A VL system has a good historical data base, personnel in the office can respond to complaints regarding late or early buses. This minimizes, but does not eliminate, the need for the field supervisor to follow up on schedu le adherence complaints Experience at agencies with operating A VL systems indicate that passenger complaints on schedule adherence are 50 percent correct and SO percent incorrect. With accurate A VL information, the transit agency can save time by acknowledging the legitimate complaints and offering apologies and assurances of corrective action. Field supervisors will save time by not having to deal with inaccurate complaints, and counsel only the operators in need of corrective action, while also determining if the agency needs to do anything to correct the schedule problem. This will allow the alert supervisor to be more of a "coach" than a "cop" IS


Evaluation of the Role of tl1e MDTA Mtrrobus Operations Supervisor Information from an A VL system helps to define where supervisors are needed. Pro-active supervisors can review the recent history of schedule adherence of routes in their zones and detennine where there are trends that need attention. The supervisors can take hard copies of the schedule adherence records and deploy themselves more effectively to discover the reasons for schedule adherence problems. A clear majority (but not all) of the peer agency Operations managers believe that A VL systems could save between two and four hours a day for field supervisors They believed the supervisors would not have to perform as many schedule checks or produce and turn in "on-time reports". Two agencies (Milwaukee and Denver) have slightly reduced the number of field supervisors as a result of the availability of A VL systems and the pressure of very tight budgets Another agency in the process of acquiring an A VL system was sure it would reduce its field supervisory force by two positions and they would not need to hire any additional supervisors even if they do expand service Another agency stated they thought that they could expand their service area without needing to add supervisors due to A VL. Most Operations managers are extremely reluctant to reduce their field supervisory force They note (as mentioned above) that A VL doesn t explain why there are schedule pcoblems. A supervisor will still be needed to determine the nature and cause of the problem and recommend solutions Managers also want to utilize the new-found time to focus on other matters such as: Safety factors better review of routes inspection ofbuses wh. ile in service, safety check rides with operators, speed checks, etc. Customer Relations more in teraction with passengers at terminals, faster follow-up to complaints, attend community meetings, etc Employee Relations reviewing operator perfonnance records, counseling operators, following up on operator suggestions, etc Operations managers fear A VL technology will simply be used as an excuse to reduce their supervisory workforce during tight fiscal times Virtually all of the Operations managers stressed that the basic need for field supervisors will remain the same They hope that A VL will be a tool that enables field supervisors to manage their zones more effectively while freei n g them for other important responsibilities. 16


Question #8: Is ther e any olber t h A n A VL that will t b e r o l e of the field supervisor, or make them more effective? Until very recently the field supervisor position has been relatively "low tech ". The majority of systems have no more than basic two-way radios in their vehicl es and portable radios to take out of their vehicles A few agencies now issue cellular phones with "safe systems" that restrict the calls that can be made These phones allow the supervisor to make point-to-point calls without going through central dispatch There are many instances where this can be a great help such as when a field supervisor wants to speak directly to a maintenance manager about a service road call. This equipment is also helpful when dealing with special events where superviso!l need to speak to other superviso!ltO coordinate logisti cs without going through central dispatch and tying u p that resource Cellu lar phones also provide greater speed and confidentiality. This can be helpful when dealing with drug t esting matters or other matters where the ide ntity o f the bus operator should not be br oadcast over the radio system. Of course, ce llular phones are also indispensabl e in areas where radio transmissions go dead ", or to address a true police emergency where the supervis or can't wait for clearance from central dispatch Cellular phones also allow a c e rtain amount of communication and coordination to occur between supervisors when central dispatch must deal with accidents and other emergencies The expense of cellular phones has discouraged many agencies from using them. However, four of the sixteen peer agencies reponing using them and wanting to expand their use. In the absence of cellular phones, some systems have issued pagers to their field supervisors to contact them on confidential messages A few syst ems menti oned the use of Automated Passenger Counters (APCs) While not used directly by field supervisors, this equipment saves the s u pervisors from performing the passenger counting function that is sometimes requested by the agency 's planning department. One agency (San Diego Transit) is using on-board data terminals in supervisor's vehicles These small screen terminals allow superviso!l to call up information on an operator's record of attendance, accidents complaints, etc It provides the supervisor the opportunity to make reports and to send a message to a driver without going over the radio These terminals can also contain information on bus schedules and operators' run sheets This saves a cons i derable amount of space in the supervisor's vehicle that is otherwise needed for boxes of schedules forms, run sheets, and other bulky, space-consuming paper items Laptop computers provide the most exciting opportunities to enhance field superviso!l effectiveness through the use of new technology Wireless phones can now be connected to portable computeJS, allowing the transmission of electronic mail to and from supervisors in the field. Inform ation on aeddeots or incidents can be recorded on the computer and made part of a la rg er data base to allow for greater future analysis of system events and performance Superviso!l can ma intain their activity l og on the laptop versus producing hard copies This would allo w Operations managers to better analyze bow supervisor s are 17


,.'0/uarion of the Role of the MDTA Metrobus Operations S11pcrvisor using their time and assist them in determining if a zone should be modified or resources shifted. As with on-board data terminals laptop computers can have all information on schedules and operator run sheets to help avoid carrying boxes of such materials in the vehicle. Supervisors could provide the fastest possible written response to customer complaints via the use of laptops. Perhaps the most effective technology that will assist field supervisors will be the provision of real-time A VL information via laptop computers. When field supervisors are able to "see' the status of buses in their zones on their computer screen they will have information never before available to them. Even without central dispatch, they will be able to control or tum back buses that are bunching up They could possibly find a bus going out of service near a bus that has broken down and authorize a swap to keep service in motion. Supervisors will be able to provide the public with accurate real-time information on the status ofbuses In short, it will give them sight where they are now blind. Just as someone who is blind wouldn'tknow all the possib ili ties ahead oftbem should they gain sight, field supervisors will also learn new and creative things they will be able to do once they have real-time bus status information at their disposal. One other technology that could change the role of the field supervisor is the electronic message board. These are not in use in many transit systems at the present time, and none of the Operations managers mentioned it in response to this question. A few systems in the country are currently testing outdoor electronic information kiosks for their reliability and durability against vandalism. These kiosks offer i nformation on the scheduled departure times of various routes from particular locations. The more advanced information kiosks are designed to be interactive, and to provide real-time schedule status of buses being monitored by an Automated Vehicle Locating system If these kiosks become dependable and accepted by the traveling public, they could reduce the amount of time a field supervisor spends on providing information at transit centers. Question #9: Do you want your field supervisors to play a more active role as true supervisors of operators and not just monitor the system? Transit bus operators work in a completely different environment than the vast majority of public employees who work in centralized offices. Due to the nature of their primary responsibility of transporting passengers, bus operators are in an agency facility less than I 0 minutes per day. Communicating effectively with them is very difficult for a transit agency. Bus operators are usually not subject to formal and scheduled evaluations. They simply don't receive much personalized attention Bus operators are generally treated as if they are bricks in a wall or cogs in a big machine. Most communications with them are through memos posted on bulletin boards or passed out with paychecks. 18


Field supervisors are generally not asked to perform the traditional tasks associated witb personnel management. They often receive no training in supervisory techniques or performance evaluations Instead operations field supervisors usually perform the role of quality assurance agents for the transit system. These supervisors are directly responsibl e for service quality in a zone but only indirectly responsible for the operators who provide service in the zone. Transit systems tend to leave personnel administration of bus operators to office staff such as transit superintendents or operations managers. However, there are often more than I 00 bus operators for every office staff person who might perform this function Consequently operators get very little direct supervision and interact with management representatives very infrequently. A few transit agencies have recognized that limited communication with bus operato rs severely limits the development of a team concept within the agency. It also thwarts the development of better customer relations, since bus operators have more contact with the customer than any other represen ta tive of the transit agency. The Metro RTA in Akron Ohio illustrates its Table of Organization with the customer at the top, in the position of greatest importance, followed by front lin e personnel such as bus operators with management shown last. The lack of a more personal relationship with bus operators can have a significant impact on the bottom line of transit ridership and revenue. To address this deficiency, a few transit agencies are asking their operations supervisors (including their field supervisors) to take a more active role in establishing a closer relationship with bus operators. Of the 16 peer agencies surveyed, three have implemented such a process (San Diego S t Louis, and Sacramento). While the specific details differ slightly in these tbree agencies, all of them rely on each operations supervisor to become more familiar with between 20 and 45 bus operators. The supervisors rev iew the records (attendance accidents complaints, etc.) of their bus operators. They note trends, and counsel or compliment the operators at appropriate times. They check on bus operators' licenses to ensure their validity. Supervisors will follow-up on a complaint against one of their operators and serve as the first l evel of review. In one agency, the supervisor is expected to ride with the operator periodically to offer safety recommendations and communicate agency information. Supervisors encourage their bus operators to offer suggestions for service improvement and follow-up on such suggestions. Essentially, the supervisor wants to help the operators do their jobs better. The intent of this increased emphasis on interaction with bus operators is to build a more positive relationship with the transit agencies' first point of contact with their customers To some extent, the supervisors act as advocates for the bus operators particularly when the operator bas some special need or circumstances This supervisory technique personalizes the bus operators work environment, and in the majority of cases, makes them feel as if someone in the agency cares about their circumstances and welfare. 19


EWJiuation of tire Role of the NIDTA Metrobu3 Operatiun.s SuperYisor In aU cases where supervisors have been given these new responsibilities, training for the supervisors has been provided. This normally includes classes in supervisory techniques, human relations, communications, and diversity skills. Three transit systems in the peer group want to adopt this method of supervising operators (sometimes referred to as "group supervision"). The agencies that have chosen not to implement such a program vary in their reasons. Some state this function is adequately performed by superintendents and dispatchers located in the office. Others mentioned logistical difficulties of keeping up with operators who change shifts, routes, and facilities. One agency simply felt the field supervisors have enough to do in the fie ld to ensure service quality, and shouldn't be distracted from that function. Another agency thought the relationship between operators and supervisors was so strained that supervisors would be accused of harassment if they attempted to counsel operators in the field. Another agency noted the union was firmly against giving field supervisors these responsibilities. In this agency, the union preferred a "line captain" approach, where operators on a route would select one operator from among them to be the communications link with management (similar to a shop steward). There is no question that establishing a group supervisio n process takes a great deal of effort and faces logistical challenges. However, one Operations manager who has established the program believes that emphasizing the difficulties is only an excuse for not wanting to change traditional procedures. Clearly some transit agencies have managed to estab lis h these programs and are very pleased with the results of reduced complaints, reduced absenteeism and an imp roved sens e of teamwork. Question #10: Why do you believe some bus operators deliberately sabotage a bus system? Initially this question might seem to have little to do with how transit systems are using their field supervisors. However, much of a field supervisor s time is spent following up on complaints and in surveillance for the purposes of catching operators wh o are deliberately not maintaining schedules This time spent on deterring unacceptable operator behavior takes time away from the many other activities a field supervisor could be performing on behalf of the agency community, and customer. I f operators did not engage in deliberate sabotage of the system's performance field supervisors could spend their time more productively. The essential question to answer is : "Why do some bus operators choose to behave in system-damaging ways that require supervisors' surveillance"? If that question can be answered supervisors could identify actions to address and prevent the majority of this unacceptable behavior. Tbe answers to this question may not only dictate new priorities for supervisors, but also ultimately free them to do more valul}-added work fo r the transit ag enc y. 20


E\.>a/utJtlon of the -'I the MDTA Met rob us Operations Supf:rvisor Operations managers offered a number of reasons why bus operators deliberatel y sabota g e a system O n e comm o n reason was that not everyone h i red i s a goo d employee or per s on of goo d character. They noted it is n ot unusual f o r an organization to have a certain l unatic fringe" component within its work force that simply does not subscribe to the values of the organization. Other managers added a certain pessimism to this reason, stating that there seems to be less caring and respect for other people in today s world. Values and accoun t ability for o n e s actions are declining, whil e a sen se o f co nscien c e is generally weakening. Some managers suggested bus operators engage in harmful actions beca u se they think they can get away with it. With limited field supe rvis ion and unions to defe n d them, bus operators might think the chances of getting caught are slim and that corrective actions taken against them wou ld be successfully challenged. T hese condit ions might exist, but they can t be defined as reasons that cause unacceptable behavior If they were all bus operators would behave inappropriately. Fortu n ately only re l ativel y f e w of them do. Another reason offered for bad operator behavior was possible retaliation by operators who believe that they have been disciplined unfairly Sabotaging the system becomes an act of retr i b u tion. This cause for u nacceptable behavior is hardly unique to the field of transit. Whi le the reasons noted abo v e are all partially valid, they fall short of identifying conditions that are somewhat unique or particu larly prevalent in the trans i t work e n v ironmen t that contribute to uncooperative employe e behavior. One of the peer agencies reported that an emp loyee attitude survey revealed that 75 percent of all emp loyees had a negative attitude toward the agency Another peer group member found morale to be no better than four on a scale of I 0 when surveying its employees during its strategic plann ing process. There are many anecdota l sources tha t s upp ort the belief that trans i t agencies and, in particular, their operati o n s sections are not the happiest of work environments. Some of the more trans i t specific r easons for uncooperative behavior among bus operators include: l. There is little opportunity for promotions for bus operators within a transit agency which can lead to lack of enthusiasm and a feeling of "what does i t matter"? 2 The hours and days worked can b e ab n ormal and cause difficulties bal8Jlc ing other personal or family matters 3. Operators can experience "bum-out" from dealing with increasingly difficu l t passengers They will take illegitimate sick time or p u t a bus down to escape these circumstances for at le ast a short while 4 Operators catch the flack from passengers whe n maintenance problems ca u se buses to be late for service or cause passe n gers to miss their schedule. 21


Ewlluation ()/the Role ()/the MDTA AUirobus Operarion:s Supervi sor 5. Operators' commitment to the transit agency will be at least partially determined by how committed they believe the agency is to them. If there is no response to their complaints (e.g. tight routes, defect cards turned in I 5 times with no action, etc.), an operator can be expected to care less about the agency If an agency seems to have a "rail bias" bus operators might act on this resentment. 6. When no one acknowledges their good work and reinforces good performance there can be a natural tendency for operators to believe it really doesn't matter how they perform. Unfortunately, the few times they are communicated with is generally for negative reasons. 7. When there are no two-way communication opportunities, operators are less likely to feel they are part of a working team What little information they receive usually deals with a spec i fic Operations concern. However, they are rarely, if ever, included in discussions dealing with the bigger picture of agency goals, objectives and progress. Operators can't be expected to invest the i r own emotions into an organization that makes no attempt to listen to their concerns. 8. One interesting theory offered was that transit agencies operate with numerous regulations that are developed for the lowest common denominator for a large work force. There are so many rules that operators feel they are being treated like children. They generally aren t listened to, and they feel virtually powerless. As ch i ldren often do, the operators will "act out'' to see what they can get away with. They might also want to "beat the system", because it is an impersonal system that doesn t seem to care about them. Transit agencies have a lot of conditions to overcome if they are to offer a nurturing work environment that will minimize the possibility of uncooperative employee behavior. E v ery one of the conditions noted above can be addressed. The role field supervisors have to play in changing these conditions will be provided in the recommendations section of the report. 22


Ew1111ation of the Role ofrhe ,\IIDrA Mel'r'Obm SuJHrvisor Chapter2 Review of Current Practices at MDT A Introduction The purpose of this chapter is to review bow bus operations fteld supervisors are currently utilized at MDTA. This was accomplished utilizing three review techniques: I. Two cum staff members accompanied six different supervisors during the majority of their shifts in the field, discussing the nature of their job's responsibilities and noting their activities. 2. The daily logs of as many as 18 field supervisors were reviewed for seven different days. 3. Two focus groups were held with a total of nine field supervisors The purpose of the focus groups was to determine what they believed the highest priorities of their jobs were and to ask them their opinions regarding how their jobs might be changed in the near future to make them more effective These three techniques allowed cum staff to become familiar with the activities of 30 field supervisors. The ride checks noted in the first technique and the focus group discussions allowed Cum's researchers to gain ftrSt hand knowledge of the duties and opinions of the supervisors. The daily logs provided information that corroborated CUTR' s understanding of the present responsibilities of MDT A's bus operations field supervisors. The information gained througn these techniques is provided below. Ride Checks In Fall 1995, two staff members from CUIR rode with six different superv isors in six of the ten supervisor zones that cover MDT A's 290 square mile service area. These zones cover virtually every region of Dade County except the southernmost part near Homestead and Florida City. Every ride check lasted between three and six hours. During these rides, the supervisors were instructed by their administrative superiors to perform their duties as they normally would. CUTR staff were free to ask questions of the supervisors to clarify the purpose of certain activities. While cum staff took thorough notes during the ride checks, they made it clear to the supervisors that their comments would remain strictly confidential. At the beginning of their shifts, supervisors receive an assignment sheet from the Operations Superintendent. These assignment sheets include duties such as checking the schedule 23


\'0/uation Q/the Role Q[the MDTA Metrobus Operations Supervisor adherence of buses at particular locations, doing visual estimates of passenger loads on cenain buses, investigating recendy received complaints from passengers or members of the public, and checking on road conditions to determine if they would cause problems for bus operations. Prior to leaving the Operations facility, supervisors check their vehicles (mid size sedans) to make sure that they have all the equipment and articles necessary to handle various situations. These articles include such items as cameras, measuring equipment, fuel cards, tool boxes, medical forms, safety triangles, schedules, operators' run sheets, first aid kits and other items that require a considerable amount of the vehicle's trunk and rear -seat space. Every supervisor ex.pressed a desire for a vehicle larger than the mid-size sedans they drove during their shifts. The lists of assignments provided by the Superintendents were not long and usually did not take more than 90 minutes for a supervisor to complete. During their shifts, supervisors monitored all radio messages transmitted by .MOTA's radio dispatchers. If there were any incidents reported in their zone, they would confirm the location of the incident and make their way to that location. When arriving at the scene of the incident they would take whatever actions were appropriate. These actions could range from assisting the operator with a situation involving a passenger, helping the operator fix an equipment malfunction in order to keep the bus in service, requesting passengers to complete courtesy cards if the bus was involved in an accident, or escorting a bus that needs to be towed to the Operations facility As one supervisor stated, "Evetyday has its own problems." Depending on the number of accidents, incidents, and road calls, the shift of a supervisor can either be very full of responsive activities, or relatively relaxed. Hence, the effectiveness of MOTA's bus maintenance program has a major impact on the supervisors' daily activities. During one of the six ride checks, the supervisor responded to four different road calls in one afternoon. Two of these road calls resulted in buses being taken out of service, requiring the supervisor to wait at the scene for additional assistance. Due to MOTA's method of scheduling road mechanics, there was a gap of almost two hours in the early afternoon when no road mechanics were available to provide assistance. In another case, the bus operator was nowhere to be found when the supervisor reached the bus that had been placed out of service. Consequently, the supervisor had to stay with the bus until the road mechanic arrived and made arrangements for a replacement driver to take the bus back to the Operation's facility. If there are no specific problems to respond to or assignments to fulfill, the supervisors roam in their vehicles patrolling their zones. They have been instructed to make their whereabouts unpredictable to the bus operators Therefore, tbe bus operators will never know if a supervisor might be near, ready to detect if they are running ahead of schedule, driving recklessly, or cutting runs short. Supervisors carry paper copies of operators' run sheets, and position themselves at time points at various places throughout their zones to check the schedule adherence of buses. All observations of schedule adherence made by supervisors 24


Ewlluat i on

Ew1luation of the Role of rhe M[)TA Mett"'bu.s Operotlon$ Superviscr supervisory philosophy seemed to be focused on catching operators who might be missing schedules or vio l ating other Operations' standards. All six of the supervisors regretted the elimination of the starter position They believed the starters allowed MOTA superv is ors to control the schedule adherence of buses very effectively. It was apparent that every supervisor was very proud of being associated with public transit, and wanted to help provide a reliable service to the publ ic Ho wever, during these ride checks, many of the supervisors expressed frustration with what they perceived as a lack of corrective action being taken with bus operators who did not perfonn according to system standards. They could not understand why certain bus operators who were frequently reported for poor schedule adherence or passenger relations were rarely disciplined. This perceived lack of discipline caused a feeling of resignation among most supervisors that their efforts in trying to hold operators to performance standards were somewhat futile. They noted how certain operators openly challenged supervisors to "turn them in" since nothing would come of it. Consequently, many of the supervisors appeared to be going through the motions of recording information without confidence in the information' s value. They also noted that Operations managers did not do a good job providing follow-up information on what was done with information provided by the supervisors. ln addition, they stated that there had been no group meetings between supervisors and upper management in approximately one year As a result, they didn't feel well informed of agency progress. In the opinion of the CUTR staff performing the ride checks, it appeared that supervisors did not have a strong sense of being a significant part of MDT A. They felt somewhat irrelevant based on the disrespect of operators and the lack of communication from higher m anagement. In spite of these feelings, most of the field supervisors continued to do their job as well as they could, but some of them had an apparent lack of mission and enthusiasm. In some cases, the supervisor's time patroll ing the zone clearly was not productive and amounted to almost ai m less driving. Obv ious cases of graffiti on bus s top signs or shelters were not recorded and turned in for corrective action There was very little interaction with passengers There was v i rtually no contact with bus operators other than those who were invo lv ed in an accident or incident. Review of Supervisors' Daily Reports To supplement CUTR' s understanding of supervisors' responsibilities the Daily Reports of as many as 18 supervisors were reviewed for seven different days. These reports are completed on a form provided by MDT A and, as the title implies, contain information on the activities the supervisor engaged in that day. The supervisors complete these forms in longhand and submit them to the Operations Superintendent at the end of their shifts A review of the daily logs for 126 different shifts reveals the supervisors engaged in well over 20 different activities including the following: 26


EVQ/uation of tht: Role o/lhe MDTA Metrobu3 0]Hratlmu Supervl.tor I. Checking routes for detours or street closures; 2. Responding to accidents and determining if a bus should stay i n service ; 3. Checking bus zone and bus shelter conditions; 4. Serving as a courier for packages between MDTA facilities; 5. Checking on-time performance of buses at time points; 6 Providing information to passengers at transit centers; 7 Follo wing up on Community Serv ice complaints (e.g. idling buses near residences or speeding buses on neighborhood streets); 8. Checking operators for uniforms, seat belts, radio settings, etc.; 9. Estimating and reporting passenger loads; 10. Checking safety factors on routes (e .g., low-lying treelimbs or pot holes, etc.); II. F o llowing up on passenger complaints (e .g. buses running early, reckless driv i ng, etc ); 12. Resp onding to operators requests for assistance; 13. Assisting injured operators and coordinating their relief ; 14. Investigating complaints or suggestions from operators; I S Checking buses for defects; 16 Helping keep a bus in service through minor repairs (e.g., replacing mirrors, tightening head signs, troubleshooting wheelchair lifts or bus doors, etc.) ; 1 7. Controlling bus departures from express locations; 18. Providing information and instructions t o operators; 19. Finding solutions to opera tional problems (e .g., moving a bus stop to another location); 20. Responding to incidents such as fare evasion or passenger disturbances; 27


EWlluatlt)ll Q{the R()/e of the lvO)TA Me/'r()bu3 Opemtion.' Supervisot- 21. Transporting stranded passengers; 2 2 Escorting buses being towed back to the garage; 23. Monitoring operators for adherence to r outes schedules, and safety regulations; and 24. Maintaining constant contact with MDTA communications dispatchers. The daily report forms don't require supervisors to account for every hour of their time Consequently, it is impossi ble to provide an accurate summary of the average number of hours spent on different activities However the daily reports of all operators for seven different days in August 1995 were reviewed with the intent of identifying the number of accidents and incidents responded to by the 18 supervisors on those days Responding to and managing accidents is the highest priority of supervisors in virrually all transit systems surveyed. Supervisors also noted during the focus groups that they regard this as their highest priority Dade County is subject to multiple lawsuits when an accident occurs Superv isors can save the County considerable dollars if they respond promptly to an accident record the number of passengers, offer assistance to any passengers that might indicate they are injured, take pictures of the accident scene, etc. They must also determine if the bus and operator should remain in service. A total of 19 accidents occurred during the seven days that were analyzed for an average of2. 7 accidents per day. Accidents typically involve a collision between the bus and another vehicle or a stationary object. It can also include passengers who are inj u red, even if no collision occurred. The time supervisors spent at these accidents ranged from I 0 minutes to three and a half hours (when a bus axle broke and blocked traffic at the Miami International Airport). Incidents can also be serious events that require a supervisor's assistance. Examples of incidents include an assault on a bus operator a disorderly passenger, rocks bein g thrown at the bus etc. Many of the incidents supervisors responded to dealt with mechanical problems with the bus. Included among these incidents were buses with inoperat i ve rear doors noisy brakes, and smoke coming from the rear. There were a total of 34 incidents during the seven days analyzed resulting in an average of 4.9 incidents per day. The time spent by supervisors at these incidents ranged from 15 minutes to three hours (when a bus operator was attacked and injured). Table 4 provides a comparison of the frequency of incidents and road calls that occur at MDTA and the 16 peer agencies. This table, based on 1993 Section 15 data, shows that only two other peer agencies experienced more total incidents and road calls than MDT A, and that MDTA experienced 51% more such incidents than the average of all the peer agencies during that year. On average, each MDTA supervisor had to respond to 30% more incidents and road calls than their industry peers. 28


During the seven days analyzed by CUTR, a total of 53 incidents and accidents were responded to by superviso rs representing an average of7.6 accidents and incidents per day. The time spent at these incidents ranged from 10 minutes to 3 hours and 30 minutes The average time a supervisor spent at these incidents was 49 minutes. The supervisor who s1ated that "Everyday has its own problems" was certainly correct. Supervisors can have a significant portion of their workd a y occupied by incidents requiring their presence. However on average, supervisors don't spend a tremendous portion of their shift dealing with these incidents. Table 4Co mparison s of Frequency of Incid ents per Transit A gency N Of;COU.:I II OF TOTAL #ov TOTAL PEAK TOTAL SIONSlNCI NONOQ. INCI ROAD-INCIJ>ENTS INCIJ>EIIT9+ DENTS (.US IONS DENT'S CAU.S ROADCAU5 HO

Another activity considered a major priority by the supervisors is s chedule adhere nce monitoring. The daily repons often include entries that indicate the amount of time spent at specifi c locat ions t o record the schedule adherence of buses. These locat ions are often transit centers where num ero u s buses from many lines meet to allow passengers to transfer, o r locations along a road where bus routes with short headways oper ate. However, under the philosophy of remainin g unpredicta ble, the sup erviso r may record schedule adherence at an y location the supervisor thinks is appropriat e Supervisors usually have assignments to check the schedule adherence of buses based on requests by the Servic e Pl anning and Schedulin g Division of MOTA The Bus Operations Division also usually assigns the supervi .sors to check the schedule adherence of other buses and routes based on its own concern for proper scheduling. passenger complaints or bus operators' requests T he amount of time supervisors recorded for formally monitoring schedule adherence ranged from 30 minutes to one hour and 40 minutes, with an a verage of 50 minutes Howev er, the ride che c ks performed by CUTR re vealed that much of the time the sup erv isors spent roaming their zones was spent checking for schedule adherenc e, but was not recorded as such in the daily log. In total supervisors s pent approximately two hours of each shift performing thi s act ivity. This is important to remember when consideri ng the electron ic schedule monitoring capabilities MDT A expects to have with the implementation of an automated vehicle loca ting (A VL) system in mi d-1996. Another interesting entry supervisors make into their dai l y logs is the number of bus operatOrs th ey contact in the course of their shift. A review of 102 supervisors daily repons indicate that no contact was initia ted with bus operato r s in 44 of the I 02 shifts While virtually every supervi sor responded to at least one opera tor in the course of the ir shift s, almost half of the supervisors did not pro-actively engage i n a discussion with bus o p e rators This evidence from the d aily repons was substantiat ed during the ride checks performed b y CUTR staff. Findings f r om Supervisors' Focus Groups Two focus group meetings were held with MDTA supervisors t o discuss a number of issues in more detail. Each focus group lasted a little rnor e than three hours. One focus group had five participants and the other had fou r The small number of supervisors in each g roup helped ensure that all superv isors participated in the discussions. These meetings were facili tated by a CUTR Deputy Director who had over ten year s experience as a director of a mid-size transit system in Florida. The facilitator had also written the MOTA Strategic Management Plan Update just prior to these meetings, and was very familiar with MOTA's operations and issues The supervisors in the focus gro u ps were asked their opinions on the questions aske d of MOTA's peers in Chapter I. Those questions (or appropriate variations of them) and the 30



Evaluation i.tor in the focus groups worked during the years when MOTA used starters and freely admitted that a couple of the starters did not perform with the discipline and dignity the positio n requires. Part of th e reason MDT A discontinued using starters was that a few of them were found to be inappropriately fraternizing with passengers, and not concentrating on their duties of assisting passengers and operators and ensuring compliance with system standards The supervisorn believed that a couple of bad starters should not have caused the agency to abandon the position. Instead, they would like to see the positions reinstated with appropriate supervision of the startern, including disciplinary action if necessary. The supervisors were advised that budget constraints are very real for MOTA, and that it was unlikely that new starters would be hired to work at every transit center in Dade County They were asked to prioritize tbe transit centers that should have starters. Each supervisor was allowed to identify their top three locations in which starters should be placed The locations most frequently identified were as follows, with the number of votes for each location provided in parentheses: I. Central Business District (5) 2 Omni (5) 3. 163 rd Street (5) 4. Mall of the Americas (3) 5. Miami International Airport (2) 6. Golden Glades at peak hours (2) 7. Aventura Mall (2) 8. Lincoln Road (2) 9. Dadeland North (I) Question #12: What do you consider the most important responsibilities of field supervisors? Each of the focus groups provided very similar responses to this question. Clearly, the most important responsibilities were accident investigation and ensuring compliance with all rules and regulations, particularly schedules. In this regard, they believed it was important for supervisors to be visible. One supervisor referred to this method of supervision as "preventive discipline". A more complete listing of what the MOTA supervisors regarded as their most important responsibilities, in order of priority, is provided below: I. Ensuring compliance with all rules and r egulation s 2. Accident investigation 3 Safety checks 4. Schedule adherence monito ring 5. Checking routes for problems (needs for detours, damaged street hardware, overhanging trees, etc. 32


EWJluotion Q,[th, Role of the MDTA Merrobus Supervi.$or 6. Checking operatoiS' driving habits and procedures (monitoring methods of driving) 7. Responding to passenger needs (mostly information) 8 Mediate between passenger and operat or when necessary 9. Fix minor mechanical problems such as loose mirrors or changing lights 10. Complaint investigation I I Handling detours and emergencies 12. Delivering messages and packages 13. Transporting operators (medical needs, drug tests, etc.) 1 4 Managing logistics for special events 15. Tending to operators' needs The responsibilities identified by the MDT A supervisors were very consistent with those identified by peer transit agencies around the country with one exception. The importance of helping the bus operator was not mentioned until the very end by both focus gro up s In one of the groups, the facilitator had to suggest this as an important responsibility be fore group members agreed. Clearly, the supervisors help the operators through a number of the activities noted above, but the assistance is somewhat indirect. The low priority given to the importance of assisting the bus operators was consistent with behavior of the supervisors who, during the ride checks virtually never initiated convernations with operators. A review of the supervisors' daily logs provided further evidence of minimal interaction and commu nications between supervisors and bus operators Conversely, peer transit systems listed assisting the operator as one of the top three priorities of field supervisors. Question #13: Do you see the responsibilities of the s upervisor changing, perhaps to have more hybrid responsibilities (e.g. maintenance, information security)? MDT A s supervisors were not excited about the concept of expanding the range of their current responsibilities. Part of the reason for their reluctance was their perception that operations supervisors are not respected for what they already do. The veteran superviso r s stated that there used to be at least ten more supervisors than there are now at MDTA. Some believed that this question had to do with budget cuts, and resented being asked to bear the brunt of cost reductions when the ran ks of supervisors has a lread y been trimmed over the yeaiS. One supervisor su gge s ted that any cost savings come from reducing administrative staff, not field operations personnel. In short, some felt the concept of multi-taSking supervisors was based on budget cuts more than improving service to tbe publ ic. The facilitator noted the re was no known consideration for reducing the number of supervisors. On the other band, it was made clear that budgets were tight and it was unlikely that there would be new funds available to hire a number of new superv i sors T h e purpose of this ques tion was to see if there were activities the supervisors could undertake to 33


EwJ/uatio11 of the Role of the lvfDTA M etrohus Opero.tiom Supervisor accomplish the goals of incr easing ridersh ip improving service, and enhancing the image ofto.-IDTA. Supervisors noted they could probably learn more about troubleshooting mechanical problems in order to help keep a bus in service. However, they qu ickly noted that they are not highly trained in maintenance matters and could conceivably cause more problems than they fix. MDT A's buses aren't stan dardized, particularly with the recent addition of articulated buses and Paratransit vans. MDT A's fleet will become even more varied in the near future wheo minibuses are purchased to serve low-ridership routes. In regards to facilities maintenance, supervisors were clearly unenthusiastic about the suggestion of cleaning graffiti from bus stop signs and shelters. The supervisors were not comfortable with the concept of having citation powers for those passengers found to board without p roper fares. This is a limited issue in Dade County where all train passengers have to utilize passes to get through barrier systems that are guarded by Wackenhut security personnel. Bus operators are expected to handle fare disputes with discretion, but there are times that a supervisor could be very helpful if available Supervisors did not strongly object to the concept of attending community meetings within their zones to improve MDT A's image as a responsive public service that cares about its customers and the areas it serves. However, there was a noticeab l e lack of enthusiasm and very few comments. Question 1#14: What vehicles would you like to use to patrol your zones? Supervisors in both groups were virtually unanimous in identifying large sedans as their vehicle of preference. Such vehicles were used by supervisors in the past. Jeeps (or Four by Fours) were the second choice of MDTA supervisors. Vans were not favored for a few reasons. Supervisors claimed that vans had been tried a number of years in the past without success Those vans did not handle well in heavy Dade County traffic, and did not tum sharply enough to allow them to respond quickly to incidents. The facilitator suggested that newer mini-vans are being used by many transit agencies throughout tbe country and seem to handle very weU, while giving the su perv isor greater vision of the road and the ability to carry passengers more easily in an emergency. Some of the supervisors responded fairly emotionally to this suggestion. One response in particular was very troubling: "Please don't punish us by making us carry passengers". The facilitator suggested that carrying passengers, while not a primary duty of the supervisors, was the basic mission of the agency. He also suggested that MDTA' s image could be enhanced if supervisors provided emergency assistance from time to time for stranded passengers, particularly those that are disabled. The superv isors reluctance appeared to be based on their lack of trust in certain bus operators They stated that some operators would take advantage of supervisors' 34


Evoluation of the Role of the NfDTA Metrobu.t Super'l)i.tor capabilities to tran sport passengers by failing to pick up passengers in wheelchairs and advising them that a supervisor would be by to pick them up in a van. The testiness of the supervisors on this subject reflected further evidence of a distance that exists between supervisors and operators The supervisors' lack o f patience with this question might have also been caused by their clear irritation with their present mid-size cars, which they regarded as a move backwards forced on them by the County. Question #15: How will Automated Vehicle Locating Systems change the role of the field supervisor? This was a question that clearly bad not been given a lot of thought by the supervisors in the focus groups. There were only three responses offered in response to this question. First, the A VL should allow supervisors to control their routes better. The automated moni t oring of buses in service will provide them with real-time bus status information never available to them before. Second, supervisors might be able to more quickly fmd a replacement for a bus that has broken down and can no longer continue in service. Third, supervisors will be able to answer passengers' questions regarding the status of bus schedule adherence more accurately. All of the responses are perfectly valid, but it appeared that there had been little brainstorming on this subject among supervisors. Perhaps this is attributable to a "wait and see'' attitude that might be adopted by supervisors that were skeptical of the new technology being successfully implemented. There were no comments offered that A VL would substantially change their priorities or free them to do other things. Question #16: Is there any technology other than A VL that will change the role of the field supervisor, or make them more effective? Most of the discussion on this issue centered on the use of cellular phones. Many supervisors favored hav ing such equipment, for the following reasons: Cellular phones would reduce the demands on the radio dispatcher and maximize the dispatcher's time for dealing with operators and emergencies. Confidential information could be transmitted over cellular phones. This would be particularly useful for carrying out drug test ing responsibilities, and reporting accidents. Supervisors believe that their radio transmissions are listened to by "ambulance chasers" who mobilize when they become aware of a bus accident. There are some "dead areas" in the county where radio transmissions sometimes cut out. Phones would provide a back-up in such areas. In the event the radio system 35


Ew1luation of the Role of the MDTA Operation., Supervisor fails altogether (which bas happened in the past), cellular phones would provide an indispensable means to continue communications. Cellular phones would enable supervisors to di al 911 in the event of a true emergency when seconds count in getting police or medical assistance. Cellular phones would be useful for supervisors to allow point-to-point communications between supervisors who are working on special events such as football games or special shuttle services. In addition to cellular phones, MDTA supervisors agreed it would be useful to have heavy duty flashlights and spotlights on their cars These are no t "hi gh tech" items, but they were mentioned as equipment that would help them perform their duties more safely Question #17: Do you want field supervisors to play a more active role as the true supervisors of operators and not just monitor the system? MDT A's supervisors were doubtful they could find the time to perform the tasks normally associated with traditional supervision, such as tracking employee performance and counseling individual bus Ojlerators on a regular basis. This was a new idea to virtually all supervisors in the focus groups, and the lack of forewarning about such an idea might ha ve worked against more thoughtfu l discussion on the issue. In general, they believed field supervisors have very little time to assume traditional, personal supervisory responsibilities. They noted it would not be easy based on the present methods of operations where bus operators have very little time to speak with anyone during the course of their workday. They suggested that the TOS supervisors" (the facility d ispatchers who sign operators in to work each day) m ight be in a better position to do this. Field supervisors expressed an interest in r id i ng with bus operators more often to check their driving and safety habits. During such "ride checks" supervisors could communicate with bus operators in more depth. However, they could not hope to establish a trad itional supervisory rel ationship t hrough this practice since it would only be performed with each operator approximate ly once a year This question also raised serious concerns about the exerc ise of disciplinary actions at MDT A. The supervisors expressed a desire to have more authority in removing operators they feel are frequent violators of agency policy There was a great deal of frustration over what the y felt was management's ineffective handling of"bad apples" among bus operators Many superviso rs f elt there was little value in documenting violations because the operators seemed to rarely pay any consequences for performance that was clearly against the best interest of MDT A and its passengers. In fact, a number of supervisors felt they themselves were presumed guilty until proven innocent whenever they documented operators' infr actio ns. 36


Evaluation of the Role of the JvfDTA Metrobua Supef"')is-or Ther e were no theories offered for why MDT A did not do a better job of disciplining bus operators who vio lated agency policies. How ever it was a clear source of irritation among supeCVlsors. Most of them simply muttered and hung their beads when this subject was discussed. Question #18: Why do you believe some bus operators deliberately sabotage a bus system? Supervisors offered a great number of reasons for why bus operators don't always perform in the best interest of the agency and its passengers: I. The perceived lack of discipline exercised by management over bus operators (noted in #7 above) resu lts in operators feeling there will be no consequences for inappropriate actions. 2 Today's applicants simply don't have as much pride or sense of personal responsibility as prior years' applicants Society in general bas changed and there are more rebellious, anti authority types of individuals than in years past. 3. Too many operators work strictly for a paycheck without appreciation for the role they play in providing an important public service. 4 Bad equipment (buses) hurts the morale of bus operators particularly those who have turned in problems with a bus without seeing results. Som etimes the only way to get a bu s fixed is to call in a breakdown that unnecessarily disrupts service 5 The union (TWU) tends to actively defend operators that have clearly violated agency policies Supervisors also believe that "bad apple" bus operators have a heavy influence on newcomers and encourage them to lower their standards. 6 Management contributes to the prob l em by not utilizing standard d iscipline for certain offenses 7. Passengers today are "tougher than in prior years. There are also increasingly complex cultural changes within the Dade community that some operators are better able to adjust to than others These changes contribute to highe r stress for operators who find their way out of the stress by discontinuing service through one means or another. 8 Route changes can burt passengers who have grown to expect a certain service. When system changes disrupt their travel patterns, passengers take it out on the bus operator, again increasing their stress level. 37


Evaluation of the Role of lht AIDTA A1en-obus OperarionJ Supervisor 9. Bus operators don't get enough recognition, and therefore don't feel as much a part of the organization as they should This also contributes to their sense of isolation and lack of concern for the organ i zation or the best interests of the passengers. 10. Communication with bus operaters is very limited, and on occasion the informatio n is inaccurate Feedback on their performance or their ideas is minimal. II. Supervisors believed that operators think that supervisors don't get good support. Consequently, operators have less confidence in them and less concern for the supervisors' abilities to cause any negative consequences for operators actions. Summary While some activities of bus operations field supervisors are routine each day offers different and unpredictable demands of their time and talents. Ride checks with a half dozen supervisors, a review of dozens of daily logs, and an in-depth discussion with two focus groups provide a more clear picrure of bow MDT A field supervisors are now being deployed and what changes might be possible. On an "average day" (one without extensive accidents or incidents), there is more than enough time for supervisors to engage in additional activities not currently performed. With the addition of Automated Vehicle Location capabilities there will be some additional time to concentrate on new priorities. MDT A's supervisors feel they have not received the respect they deserve and, from their perspective it is easy to see why. Their ranks have been reduced, they have seen the "Starter" position virtually eliminated, their vehicles have been downsized, they have not had a meeting with management for over a year, and they believe they get little respect from operators or support from higher management. Hence, any changes to supervisors' responsibilities need to be carefully stated, and offered in a way that is supportive of enhanci n g the role of the supervisors and their importance in the organization. 38


Eval11oticm of t he oft he Jv(J)TA Metrob11s Opuoriom SupeYVi3ol' Chapter 3 Findings and Recommendations General Observations and Conclusions The Metro-Dade Transit Agency is involved in a number of exciting developments and activities including the installation of an Automated Vehicle Locating System(A VL) the opening of a dedicated Busway, plans for major investments in two new corridors, major j oint development at Metrorail stations, and the diversification of its transit fleet to i ntrod uce vehicles of different sizes for d iffere nt levels of demand throughout its service area. Amidst these exciting activities, however, there is concern about the basic quality of service provided by MOTA s Metrobus division. Ridership on Metrobus has not increased appreciably over the past three years. There is a noticeable lack of pride in this element of the agency despite the fact that almost 80 percent of the total passengers carried by MOTA use Metrobus. Ther e i s a distinct need for more attention to be paid to the quality of s ervice provided by this division of the agency. Better performance is particularly critical now, when federal operating assistance for transit is expected to be eliminated, making farebox revenues increasingly important. In addition, if MDT A is to secure federal dollars for building any major corridor rail impro vements, it will need to identify a local source of funds to operate such new services. This will only be possible if local support exists for a new source of revenue for improved transit service. Such local support will not be gained unless there is a general belief within the community that MOTA is an agency providing quality service that is deserving of inc reased community investment. When considered in this bigger picture," the opportunity to redirect the bus operations field supervisors' responsibilities is every bit as exciting as the MOTA capital projects noted abo ve. The types of activities currently performed by s upervisors are important, but a close review of the time spent on current activ ities indicates they have time to contribute to the success of the agency in other ways, particularly with the advent of A VL. Bus operations field supervisors are in a unique position within a trans it agency, being close to both the agency's customers and the agency's largest employee group (bus operators). They understand the operators' needs and what the custo mers want. They can have tremendously positive impacts on both the operators and the passengers, and can provide other divisions of MOTA with val uab le insights and ideas for imp roving service while perfo rming the vital function of ensuring the qua lity of the service on the street As such, they rep resent an under-appreciated and underutilized resource that can help MOTA accomplish many of the critical success factors included in the agency's 1995 Strategic Management Plan. As noted in the summary of Chapter 2 of thi s report, a number of the current field supervisors are dispirited for a variety of reasons Most of these reasons can be addressed and corrected. 39


Evaluation oftht Role of the !vfDTA M61robus Operations Supervisor As they are corrected, supervisors can be challenged to take on new assignments that will have tremendous value to bus operators, passengers the community, and MDT A. MDT A should be able to implement new responsibilities for field supervisors without adding additional positions to its budget This conclusion is based on a number of findings. First, the field checks and review of daily logs revealed that supervisors usually have slack time during their day, unless there is an unusual number of accidents or mechanical failures to which they must respond. Second, when compared to other peer transit systems, it is apparent that MDTA invests in the field supervisor function more than most systems (see Table !). While there are good reasons for this (MDTA has more congested roads and experiences more incidents than other systems), there can be little justification found from industry comparisons for substantially increasing the number of supervisors. Third, A VL will reduce the amount of time supervisors need to spend on monitoring schedule adherence and roaming their zones to perform "preventive discipline." Finally, MDT A's method of dispatching can be changed in such a way that should allow the redeployment of between four and six supervisors from the dispatch function to other supervisory functions obviating the need to hire additional personnel. Findings from the Peer Survey There is ample evidence from around the country that shows how transit supervisors are being redeployed to meet organizational needs that are recognized as increasingly important. Transit agencies are gaining a greater appreciation of the significance of customer service While the importance of customer service should seem fundamental, it somehow became less relevant in the monopolistic and political environments transit agencies have functioned in over the past few decades However, the scarcity of public dollars is forcing transit agencies to re-emphasize the significance of efficiency and the customer base. There is also a growing awareness of the need to develop a greater sense of trust and teamwork between bus operators and their organizational superiors. Perhaps the impetus for this is information on bow the private sector is reorganizing and "re-engineering" their internal processes to deal with the need to be efficient in an increasingly competitive world Some transit agencies have reached these conclusions after surveying their employees and learning there are distinct "disconnects" between labor and management that are very detrimental to their hopes for success. Positioned within the middle of a transit organization supervisors can serve as an excellent "conduit" to reconnect elements of the agency that should never have lost sight of their common interests. Provided below are the highlights of what was learned by surveying 16 peer transit agencies and asking how they were reevaluating their use of field supervisors. Many of the agencies are utilizing the supervisors in much the same way as MDT A, but a number of agencies have become much more progressive. The more progressive actions are s ummarized below : 40


EwduatlQn Q{ Rolr. oftht lvDJTA Merrobus Supervisor I. More Customer Orientation Transit agencies are emphasizing the need for all transit employees to be more customer focused Instead of staying in their cars and monitoring schedule and route adherence, supervisors are encouraged to interact with customers and bus operators. This gives a more human touch to transit agencies that are sometimes regarded as relatively uncaring public monopolies It enhances the supervisors' ability to stay in touch with the agency's market. This interaction makes customers feel someone is going out of their way to be helpful and sets a good example for bus operators as well The information supervisors gain from talking to passengers is valuable to the planning and marketing staff of the transit agency. 2. Improved Communications and Relationships with Bus Operators In regards to relationships with bus operators, some transit agencies are encouraging their supervisors to change their roles from "cops" to "coaches." Supervisors still have a role to play in ensuring bus operators do what they are supposed to do. However, the emphasis is no longer on being a "systems compliance officer"; it is more focused on being a team leader or service quality agent. A few agencies have established procedures whereby each supervisor is responsible for tracking the performance of between 20 and 45 bus operators. While the supervisors do not officially evaluate the operators, they remain aware of the operators' performance by reviewing their attendance and accident records, as well as any complaints filed against them. The supervisors try to act as an advocate for operators within their group by following up on suggestions or helping them with any special needs they might have. 3. Expanding Responsibilities Some agencies are pursuing the concept of "multi-tasking" their supervisors. A few have improved the mechanical troubleshooting skills of field supervisors to enable them to help keep buses in service. Supervisors in other agencies take pride in keeping the agencies' facilities as clean as possible by removing graffiti from shelters or bus stop signs as soon as they see it, particularly for facilities in remote locations. In some cases, supervisors are encouraged to attend community meetings to help portray the agency as a community asset. In still other agencies, the field supervisors of bus and rail systems learn interchangeable skills to maximize their effectiveness for the agency. 41


Evalu.aticm of the Role of the }vff)TAMttrcbus Supei"'Yisor 4. Becoming More Visionary and Less Reactionary Techno logy such as A VL and laptop computers become instruments that enable supervisors to change their emphasis from finding problems to preventing or fixing problems The method of roaming zon es to monitor bus operators becomes less important as bus schedule adherence is tracked electronically, both at central communications control and within supeiVisors vehicles equipped with laptop computers or mobile data tenninals. Supervisors can now review reports generated by A VL to determine where buses have been out of tolerance, then focus their field efforts to thos e areas in need of attentio .n. Tools such as A VL allow supervisors t o better plan their activities to use their time as effect ively as possible. They become better managers of the system, rather than reactive agents. SupeiVisors can become more assertive in the goal to make service in their zones as good as it can possibly be. 5. Equipment and Vehicles There is general (but not unanimous) agreement on the benefits of technology such as A VL. Most agencies feel they can expand service without increas ing the number of sup ervisors based on A VL's capabilities. However, operations managers strongly resist the concept that supervisory personnel can be reduced because of A VL. There are many other priority responsibilities they believe supervisors can now perform, such as ride checks, customer service and employee relations based on the reduced amount of time spent on schedule monitoring. Most operations managers are strongly in favor of issuing cellular phones to their field supervisors for all the reasons noted in pages 17, 35, and 36. Most importantly cellular phones can save minutes when seconds count. They als o allow confidential information to be transmitted more securely. MDT A is almost unique in its use of mid-size cars for its supervisors. Jeeps and vans are gaining in popularity, and are much better suited for the functions of a field supervisor who might need to carry passengers or operators from time to time. 6. Need for Training The types of changes in supervisory responsibilities noted above can not occur through wishful thinking. A number of agencies realize it will take concerted efforts to change the mind-set of supervisors who have been doing the same things the same way for decades. There is a need for helping supervisors develop better 42


Ew1luarion of the Role of tire MI)TA MetrtJbu.t Operatltm$ Supervi$Or skills in human relations, communications, and passenger relations. They should also be provided with the fundamenta ls of supervisory principles and practices. If they are to become more significant ambassadors for the system transit agencies must also communicate more effectively with supervisors so they can pass on reliable information to passengers and bus operators In addition, if they are to become more effective troubleshooters for mechanical problems with buses, there will be a need for more training in maintenance. Basis for Recommendations Findings from the peer survey provide sufficient evidence that some transit agencies have been able to redirect or supplement the priority responsibilities of their field supervisors These actions should serve as an assurance that i t is possible to introduce change in an environment not known for innovation. However, the specific actions MDT A should pursue in modifying their supervisors' activities should be guided by the agency's priorities as listed in the recently adopted 1995 Strategic Management Plan. That plan identified the six cdtical success factors to be : Funding: T o secure sufficient funding to maintain existing services in an extremely difficult fiscal environment through creativity hard choices, and the elimination of outdated practices while pursing new sources of funds for future growth. Supporl: To gain support for the promotion and funding of transit, and the adoption of complementary publi c policies Customer-Oriented PerfortnJJnce: To achieve and maintain service standards that challenge our employees and result in a high level of customer satisfaction, increased ridership and public support. HutnJJn To attract develop, and maintain a dedicated and skilled workforce by providing a fair and challenging work environment that recognizes teamwork and added va lue, and results i n superior performance. CommunicationsllnfortnJJtion: To maximize performance and commitment through extensive internal information sharing. Facilities/Equipment: To procure and maintain the equipment and facilit i es required for MDT A employees to provide the highest customer satisfaction possible within tight budget constraints 43


Evaluation of the Role of I he MDTA Metrobus Operations Supervisor Using these critical success factors as a guide, it becomes fairly easy to see how MDT A should redirect its supervisors' responsibilities. Clearly, field supervisors can help MDTA save money by encouraging bus operators to perform their best and, through better relationships with bus operators, hopefully reduce the incidents of illegitimate absences (operator absences result in significant costs to the agency). They can help generate support for transit by being more interactive with passengers and with community groups. Supervisors can improve customer satisfaction by providing them with information and a greater sense of security by being more visible at transit centers, and by helping buses remain in service by more effectively troubleshooting mechanical problems with buses that are subject to road calls. Supervisors can also improve the communications within the agency by providing bus operators with information on agency initiatives and progress, while providing planning and scheduling managers with their insights on needs for service adjustments and improvements. They can help maintain facilities throughout the service area by carrying cleaning equipment to remove graffiti from shelters or bus stop signs. They can also monitor the activities of cleaners at transit centers who pick up trash at the centers and from buses that enter the centers. The MDT A must, in tum, take steps that benefit the supervisors so they may do the best job possible within their zone. As noted earlier in this report, the field supervisors are somewhat dispirited and need a reaffirmation of their importance within the organization. Far from being beyond repair, there are great opportunities to regain the supervisors' enthusiasm In broad terms, the agency should: offer an "apology" for underutilizing and under appreciating their significance within the organization. There are some historic wounds that need to be healed; offer specific ideas on how their value to the agency can be enhanced through better equipment new assignments and priorities, and training; challenge the supervisors to develop their own suggestions on how they can help the agency achieve its critical success factors. Recommendations MDTA should take the following specific actions to modify the role and responsibilities of their field supervisors: 1. Improve the agency's communication with supervisors and encourage their active participation in service planning, scheduling, and marketing. Supervisors have not been part of a group meeting for over a year, which helps explain why they do not feel a part of the bigger picture at MDT A. Regular meetings between Bus 44


Evaluation of the Role oft he 'MDT A Metrobu.s Operations Supef"')is.or Operations managers and supervisors should be held, perhaps on a monthly basis. These meetings will allow them to get information on agency progress, as well as specific instructions on Operations' concerns. It will also allow them to provide their input to managers, and to brainstorm with each other on techniques to improve service and increase ridership Supervisors don't have many opportunities for promotion, a situation that can often cause employees to lose their zest for the agency they work for. Consequently, opportunities to help influence agency programs and progress will help them remain interested in and committed to the agency's success. This action certainly is in keeping with the critical success factor of improving communications in the agency, which was unanimously cited as I.\1DT A's greatest weakness during the development of the Strategic Management Plan. 2. Take consistent corrective actions with bus operators who violate fundamental service standards, and keep supervisors apprised of the results of such actions. MDT A Operations' managers shou l d acknowledge supervisors' frustrations with insufficient discipline of bus operators who have continually violated regulations. Supervisors should be assured that the agency will deal firmly with bus operators who cause the majority of complaints against I.\1DT A. Everyone wants to be proud of the agency they are part of, and having employees perform in accordance with reasonable standards is the minimum that should be expected. This does not signal a war'' against bus operators. It is simply a statement that good customer service is an agency goal, and those operators who violate fundamental standards will be subjected to appropriate corrective action. A clear statement of this sort will go a long way toward regaining supervisors' enthusiasm and sense of organizationalloyalry. This action is clearly consistent with the critical success factor of maintaining service standards for improved customer-oriented performance. Supervisors should be kept apprised of the corrective actions taken with operators that have been counseled or disciplined 3 Encourage more positive interaction between supervisors and operators to develop a better understanding of bus operators' needs, and to develop a greater sense of trust and teamwork. At the same time I.\1DTA deals assertively with the worst operators in the system, it should also emphasize the need to build greater trust between supervision and all bus operators. Those are not mutually incompatible goals. The good operators that constitute the great majority of all the operators will be happy to see the agency try to raise its standards However, there has been too much of an "us versus them" management philosophy in the past. This was strongly evidenced by the near-absence of interaction between supervisors and operators during ride checks, the infrequent notation on daily logs of any contact with operators, and the failure in focus groups to mention "assisting operators" as a primary 45


EwJ/uati on of the Role of I he !v{J)TA Metrobus OpertJtions Supen;;scr responsibility. Supervisors have been instructed to roam their zones in an unpredictable fashion so they can catch the operators that are deliberately missing schedule. In the very near future, A VL will be able to "apprehend the culprits" who are not maintaining schedule. This will allow supervisors to spend their time doing more things with and for operators instead of hiding and trying to find offenders. When an operator sees a supervisor coming, hopefully it will be a positive encounter more often than a negative one. Supervisors should redirect their approach to identify how they can help operators do their jobs better. This is compatible with the Human Resource critical success factor of the Strategic Management Plan which calls for a fair and challenging work environment that recognizes teamwork and added value l'viDTA should develop plans to provide for more regular contact between supervisors and operators, similar to the "&'tOup supervision" activities that are in place in San Diego and St. Louis. These types of programs have resulted in dramatic decreases in customer complaints and bus operators absenteeism, with bus operators gaining a better understanding of agency goals as the agency increases the effort to communicate with its workforce. 4. Provide more skills development training for supervisors to allow them to perform new duties to foster t h e achievement of the agency's critical s u ccess factors. l'viDT A should identify the training needs of supervisors to allow them to perform the new aspects of their duties more effectively. For example bus maintenance trainers should develop a short program (approximately eight hours) on problems most commonly associated with road calls. While supervisors won't be expected to become qualified mechanics they should be able to learn a few more things that will enable them to assist the operator in keeping a bus in service. The Employee Relations Division of l'viDTA can identify short courses for supervisors to take to improve their skills in such areas as communications, human relations customer relations, and supervisory techniques. This is consistent with the Human Resources critical success factor of developing and maintaining a dedicated and skilled workforce 5. Provide new vehicles and equipment that will change the image of the fie l d supervisor and a ll ow them t o perform their roles more effectively. MDTA should include vehicles more appropriate for field supervisors in future capital plans. During focus group meetings, supervisors expressed a preference for "police package" sedans rather than the mid-size cars currently in use. This report recommends MDT A look closely at using minivans instead of automobiles. These vans are well liked at transit agencies where they are being used, offer storage capabilities exceeding cars can comfortably carry passengers or operators (especially disabled passengers), and provide a 46


Ew1lualion of the Role of the MDTA M11frobus Operations place of shelter for supervisors to talk with passengers or bus operators when necessary. The use of vans will also serve a symbolic purpose of demonstrating the change that is taking place in bus operations to be more customer oriented Any bus operators who are found to pass up passengers because of the availability of supervisors vans must be subjected to counseling and/or corrective action. The MDT A should also attempt to budget for cellular phones for its field supervisors for all the reasons noted on pages 17, 35, and 36. These communications devices will reduce the traffic on the radio system, thereby allowing the central communications control officer to more effectively deal with emergencies and maximize the utilization of information from the A VL system; allow confidential information to be handled more discreetly; provide communications in areas where the radio might "go dead"; allow supervisors to d ial 911 for immediate response when necessary ; allow point-to-point communications between field supervisors; allow supervisors to call information clerks (if necessary) from transit centers to provide answers to passengers questions; and allow supervisors to talk directly with bus maintenance personnel for information to help keep buses subject to road calls in service. Supervisors have requested heavy duty flashlights, which should also be provided to them as part of the standard equipment in their vehicles. Not only do these items make sense, they would also serve as a symbolic gesture that MDT A cares about its supervisors and wants to give them what they need to do the best job they can for the customers within their zones This is clearly consistent with the Facilities/Equipment critical success factor of procuring and maintaining the equipment and facilities required for MDTA employees to provide the highest customer satisfaction possible within tight budget constraints. It will also foster MDTA' s customer-oriented performance critical success factor. 6. Place full-time starters at three transit centers and direct all other field supervisors to spend more time at other transit centers interacting with passengers and bus operators. MDT A should re-institute starters in at least two more transit centers for all the reasons mentioned in pages 7 and 31. Over the past year a starter was placed at the Omni transit center. This is one of three transit centers identified by supervisors during focus group meetings as being in critical need of starters. The other two locations are the Central Business District terminal and the 163rd Street Mall transfer center. The starter position promotes virtually every one of the MDT A's critical success factors, most particularly the gaining of public support, ach i eving h igh levels of customer-oriented performance promoting teamwork, sharing information and maintaining facilities for customer satisfaction At transit centers, supervisors can serve as effective service monitors, passenger assistants (especially to tourists) and an element of security by their mere presence. They are in a better position to communicate with and assist bus operators, as well as serve as quality control agents for drivers' uniforms bus and transit center cleanliness, transfers etc 47


Evaluahon of the Role of the MDTA Metrobus Operations Suerv;sor Starters could also serve as contract monitors at the three transit centers for cleaning services that could be provided by sources such as Goodwill. This would be consistent witb the recommendations included in the report dealing with bus cleaning procedures CUTR recently produced for MOTA. That report found that all complaints about dirty buses bad to do with buses that, not surprisingly had already been in service for a number of hours. That report recommended that MDTA institute some method of cleaning buses in the middle of tbe day One suggestion was to use a service such as Goodwill at a few of the transit centers where the majority of the buses lay over for at least a short This would allow cleaners to pick up loose papers, cans, etc. from the buses as well as from the transit center grounds. MOTA's budget is tight, but there is a very good chance the agency will be able to secure the personnel necessary to perform the Starter function by modifying the way dispatch is handled from all three operations facilities Those facilities currently use two dispatchers at the facilities for the morning and afternoon shifts If MDT A installs new automatic check-in devices and real-time display monitors in the operations building that show the status of buses (identified by CUTR in its report on the agency's Transit Operating System), there should be a need for only one dispatcher at each location for each shift. This would free the number of personnel necessary to provide supervisory service at the three transit centers given highest priority by MDT A's supervisors (see page 32). There are many other transit centers located throughout Dade County that will not be able to be served by supervisors on a full time basis. However, MOTA should insist that field supervisors spend more of their time while in the field at the other transit centers interacting with both passengers and operators They should not stay in their vehicles while at those locations, unless they are counseling a bus operator or discussing a matter discreetly with a passenger. 7. Challenge the supervisors to perform as many tasks as they can to add value to the organization and improve service to the public. MDTA should explore all reasonable additional services supervisors can perform that will further the objective of the agency's Strategic Management Plan. As noted earlier, MDT A should provide operations supervisors with additional training i n mechanical troubleshooting to help keep buses in service. Tbe availability of cellular phones would enhance their ability to communicate with bus maintenance and possibly enable them to correct a problem with a "road call" bus. Supervisors should be issued cleaning paraphernalia and consider it part of their responsibility to clean graffiti off of bus stop signs or shelters, particularly in more remote locations. Supervisors should be encouraged to be aware of community meetings within their zones, and attend them when possible to demonstrate MOTA's concerns with providing a community and customer-oriented service. Discussion s should be held with MDT A's rail managers to see if there are any ways the rail and bus field supervisors can 48


Evaluati()tt o/lllt Role of the MDTA Mftrvbus Op,I"QtfiJns SuJ'lrvitcr complement each other. With vans supervisors can play a more effective role in transporting passengers who are stranded due to detours, down buses or inoperative wheelchair lifts Perhaps the most challenging new assignment for field supervisors is to participate in a group supervision program where each sup erv isor i s responsible for establ i shing a closer relationship with as many as 30 bus operators. There is no question this will be difficult at first, but it has been done at other trans it properties with good results This action addresses the isolation often felt by bus operators, and helps them become a closer part of the transit team. It should help minimize the number o f incidents of "sabotage" and illegitimate absences If that happens supervisors will have more time to assist operators and passengers. 8. Improve the bus maintenance function and modify service truck schedules so there is coverage throughout all shifts. Improving bus maintenance is, of course, a huge assignment that will require action on many fronts. It is included in this report simply to emphasize the importance of bus maintenance on qual i ty and reliability of service customer satisfaction, bus operators morale and performance and the ability of operations supervisors to perform new duties on behalf of customers and operators If buses are breaking down while in service, much of the supervisors' time will be taken responding to those buses and making arrangements for transfer of equip m ent, pas s engers and o p erators. Buses that remain unrepaired w ill cause bus operators' attitudes to s our, making it more difficult for supervisors to gain their trust and foster their enthusiasm. Passengers will be upset, causing supervisors to spend more time on damage control than impro v i ng relationships with customers. Maintenance is the foundation of any transit agency, and how well it performs will have dramatic effects on many other pers onnel in the agency This is mentioned in this report to underscore the need for MDTA to provide training fo r its mechanics and to fully staff its bus maintenance function, as called for in the Strategic Management Plan. One action that can be taken immediately is for bus maintenance to r e-examine its method of creating sh i fts for its road service trucks According to field supervisors, all road trucks are essentially unavailable between approximately 1 :00PM and 3:00PM. The morning shift trucks return bac k to their bases and do not return until the road trucks have been checked for proper equipment and supplies by the afternoon shift road truck operators. Field supervi so rs claim that bus operators know this schedule, and the less scrupulous operators will take advantage of the unavailability of road trucks to pu t their buses out of service during th is time to take some t ime off from their duties Hence, one of the following actions should be taken: (I) the schedules of road trucks should be altered to minimize the time when n o serv ice is avai l able (2) the capital budget should be review ed to determine if additional road trucks could be purchased, or (3) other methods of getting road truck mechani cs to ro ad trucks already i n the field should be instituted 49


Evaluation of the Role of the 'MDT A Metrobus Operolirms Summary MDT A has a wonderful opportunity to improve its service to the public and achieve many of its critical success factors by better utilizing its bus operations field supervisors. Th eir favorable position within the middle of the organization allows them to serve as a vital connection between MOTA management and bus operators as well as passengers. There are a number of past actions that trouble the supervisors that MOTA management must be aware of and correct. If MDT A addresses those situations (such as vehicles, starters, progressive discipline, and communication), it can then challenge supervisors to take on more responsibilities and expect a very productive Supervisors have done a good job based on the somewhat limited expectations that have governed their responsibilities in the past. However they can do much more for MDT A. With management's interest and support, they can help improve MDT A's internal environment and the agency's relationship with the external environment. so


EWlluatl'on of the Role oft he lviDTA Metr

Evaluation of the Role of tlte ,\ADTA ,\letrobu.v Supervi3or 8 Do you see the functions of the operations supervisor changing to more hybrid responsibilities (e. g maintenance inform ation, and secur ity)? 9. What vehicles do your supervisors use, and what are their advantag es? 10. Do you have or expect to have an Automated Vehicle Locating (A VL) System in the near future? II. How will Automated Vehicle Locating Systems change the role of the fie ld superv iso r? 12 Is there any technology other than A VL that will change the role of the field supervisor, or ma ke them more effective? 13. Do you want your field supervisors to play a more active role as true superviso rs of operators and not just mon i tor the system? 14. Why do you believ e some bus operators deliberately sabotage a bus s ystem? 52


Ewlluation of the Rolf! of the MDTAAktrobus O]x:I'Qtions SuJXI.,.iSOY A P PENDIX B Tra nsit Agency Respondents to Peer Survey I Bi-State Development Agency (St. Louis, Missouri) Thomas Sebr Deputy Executive Director/General Manager for Ope r ations, 314-982-1400 and Nathan Kinicker 2. Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Leilia M. Bailey, Asst. General Manager of Operations, 216-566 5 1 00 3. Dallas Area Rapid Transit David Majors, Assistant Manager for Field Operations, 214-8 2 8-8508 4 Regional Transportation District (Denver, Colorado) Michael Gill, Manager of Dispa t ch and Street Supervision, 303-628 9000 5 Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Houston, Texas)-B G. Fort, Asst. General Manager of T ran s portation Operations, 713-635-0229 6. Kiog County Department of Transportation/M e tro Gloria Overgaard, Manager of Operations, 206-684-2686 7. Metropolitan Adanta Rapid Transit Authority John Jefferson, Director of Bus Garage Operations, 404 848 6810 8. Mass Transit Administration of Maryland Rona ld Freeland Director of the Office of Tran sit Ope r ations 410-767-8765 9. Milwaukee County Transit System -Michael E. Vebber, Director of Operations, 414344-4550 I 0. Metropolitan Council Transit Operations J errold Olson, Asst. General Manage r of Operations, 612-349-7512 1 1. Orange County T ransportation Authority Jac k Stipes, Manager of Fixed Route Operations, 714-560-5925 12. Port Authority of Allegheny County (PA Transit, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania) Thomas V. Letky, Director of Operations, 412 237-7000 13. Sacramento Regional Transit District Cameron Beach, Chief Operations Officer, 916321-2980 53


EvaluatiOn <>.{the Role of the J \1DTA j\tlerroltus OpeYati().ru Supervi$0'1" 14. San Di e go Transit CorporationRick Murphy, VicePresident for Operations, 619238-0100 15. Santa Clara County Transit DistrictRandi Powers, Deputy Director of Operations, 408-321-5555 16. Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (Tri-Met) John R. (Bob) Post Deputy General Manager, 503-238-4915 54