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The National Academies

TCRP Synthesis J-07/Topic SG-15 [Active (Synthesis)]

Contracting Fixed-Route Bus Transit Service
[ TCRP J-07 (Synthesis of Information Related to Transit Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $45,000
Authorization to Begin Work: 5/27/2016 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Mariela Garcia-Colberg
Research Agency: Dan Boyle & Associates, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Dan Boyle
Effective Date: 10/4/2016
Fiscal Year: 2016

Final Scope

Many transit systems choose to contract a portion or the entirety of their bus operations to one or more contractors as opposed to directly operating the service. Most of the literature today focuses on cost benefit analysis; this synthesis will focus on the process of procurement and oversight to ensure quality fixed-route bus transit services. The idea is to provide summary information and case examples that can be used by transit systems in their decision making process.

This study will conduct a literature review and survey of transit agencies (geographically diverse, different size of fleet, rural vs. urban) that currently, or previously, contract services. The study shall also gather information from corporate level contract service providers in order to get their perspective of the procurement and operation process. A minimum of five case examples of different transit system and their counterpart local contract service provider will be presented. Attention should be given to service procurement from the perspective of a small transit system as they often lack the time and experience to create and carry out a highly detailed procurement, and many transit contractors may not be interested in small service contracts.

Information to be gathered includes the following ( not an inclusive list):

• List of all agencies that contract and % of their services that they contract (to be included as Appendix);
• Surveyed agency characteristics and operating statistics;
• Procurement framework:
o RFP structure
o Process of procurement
o Price/cost realism
o Evaluation process;
• Contract/operating agreement structure:
o Type of contracting models
o Type of contract elements that attract competition
o Number and function of staff dedicated to management of the contract
o What functional areas are contracted out vs. in-house?
o Performance incentives and liquidated damages including
„X How do they impact the contract price and influence service quality?
• Contract transition issues;
• Labor issues:
o Continuity of employment and employees right of first refusal
o Wages and benefits
o Collective bargaining agreements
o Work requirements (shifts, hours, etc.);
• Oversight:
o Auditing
o Third party inspection
o How to verify self-reporting data?
o Frequency and type of communications with contractor
o Disputes
o How is the service performance measured and evaluated?
o Who has responsibility collecting data and how often is it reported?
o Service Integration (contracted and non-contracted and between contracted service providers) practices, for example, dispatch protocols, emergency management, service interruptions, etc.
o Start up and closing issues.
Information Sources:
Federal Transit Administration. “Third Party Contracting Guidance.” 2008.
Frick, Karen Trapenberg, Brian Taylor, and Martin Wachs. "Contracting for Public Transit Services: Evaluating the Tradeoffs." 2006.
Government Accountability Office, Transit Agencies' Use of Contracting to Provide Service, September 26, 2013
Iseki, Hiroyuki (2004), “Does Contracting Matter? The Determinants of Contracting and Contracting’s Effects on Cost Efficiency in US Fixed-Route Bus Transit Service”, University of California, Los Angeles, unpublished dissertation.
Iseki, Hiroyuki, Amy Ford, and Rachel J. Factor. “Contracting Practice in Fixed-Route Transit Service: Case Studies in California.” 2006.
Kim, Songju and Martin Wachs.“Transit and Contracts: What’s Best for Drivers?” 2006.
Kim, Songju (2005), “The Effects of Fixed-Route Transit Service Contracting on Labour”, University of California, Berkeley, unpublished dissertation.
McCullough III, William Shelton, Brian D. Taylor, and Martin Wachs. ”Transit Service Contracting and Cost-Efficiency.” 1998.
Nicosia, Nancy (2002), “Essays on Competitive Contracting: An Application to the Mass Transit Industry”, University of California, Berkeley, unpublished dissertation.
Richmond, J., The Private Provision of Public Transport, http://jonathanrichmond.com/publications/privweb.pdf
Transportation Research Board. ”Special Report 258: Contracting for Bus and Demand-Responsive Transit Services. A Survey of U.S. Practice and Experience.” 2001.


TRB Staff
Mariela Garcia-Colberg
Phone: 202-334-2361
Email: mgarciacolberg@nas.edu

Meeting Dates
First Panel: October 4, 2016, Washington, DC
Teleconference with Consultant: TBD
Second Panel: May 23, 2017, Washington, DC

Topic Panel
Colton Brown, PA Department of Transportation
Andrew Gena, Amalgamated Transit Union
Stephanie Lotshaw, TransitCenter
Tomika Monterville, Lake County Community Services Department Transit Division
Victoria Perk, University of South Florida, Tampa
Jarrett W. Stoltzfus, Foothill Transit
Sarah Tseng, TransLink
Dottie Watkins, Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Dorian Ridley-Curtis, MPA, Department of Transportation/FTA
Stephen J. Andrle, Transportation Research Board

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