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The National Academies

TCRP Synthesis J-07/Topic SF-20 [Active (Synthesis)]

Managing the Transit Scheduling Workforce
[ TCRP J-07 (Synthesis of Information Related to Transit Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $45,000
Authorization to Begin Work: 6/2/2017 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Mariela Garcia-Colberg
Research Agency: Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Principal Investigator: Michael Walk
Effective Date: 9/25/2017
Fiscal Year: 2017

Final Scope

The role of the transit scheduler is critical to the overall functioning of the transit agency. Transit schedules support and provide the framework for transit operations. Schedules ultimately drive a transit agency’s bottom line and quality of service delivery.

The goal of this study is to provide an overview of the current state of practice regarding how transit agencies approach management of transit scheduling human capital. The Synthesis will examine how transit agencies are recruiting, training, developing, and retaining schedulers.

Behind a good transit schedule, sits a highly-qualified and experienced scheduler—the person who takes a service plan, and marries the plan with the realities of transit operations such as:
• Customer demand
• Operator health and retention
• Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)
• Safety regulations
• Vehicle maintenance considerations
• Financial considerations
• Social demographics of the area and community needs
• Regional transportation infrastructure

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

Human Resource Practices
• Is the current practice training schedulers to analyze the data and adjust timetables accordingly or using other staff to analyze this data and provide recommendations?
• How are the best schedulers recruited and what has proven to be optimal career-growth pathways leading to a successful scheduling career? Should schedulers come from the ranks of operators, planners, IT analysts, or others?
• How are candidates for scheduling positions screened before hiring? Which (if any) standardized tests are considered useful? What tests and interview questions have been considered effective?
• What practices are used to train schedulers? How long does training take and how much time does a scheduler need before becoming fully proficient?
• How are schedulers evaluated and held accountable for the quality of their work?
• What aptitudes are deemed optimal? What do you do when a scheduler does not have the aptitude and is not performing to standards?
Scheduling practices
• How are schedulers managed in a contracted operation? How do transit agencies overseeing contracted operations assign the scheduling functions? Are the timetables, work blocks, and operator run assignments scheduled in-house, by the contractor, or by a third-party scheduling contractor?
• Which data is used to analyze current running times and produce a more accurate timetable? Where are the deficiencies in available data? How do we balance between two or more different sources?
• What are new or innovative practices used by transit agencies and transit contractors that are improving the capacity of schedulers?
• How do you train schedulers to integrate the increasing amount of available data both quantitative and qualitative to determine if the outputs can best serve the community needs and agency standards?

Information will be gathered by a literature review (e.g. agency reports, peer reviewed journal articles, web articles) and a survey on a broad range of North American transit agencies to identify the current state of the practice. The report should include five case examples that will gather information on the state-of-the-practice, emphasizing lessons learned, opportunities and challenges. The needs for future research and gaps in information should also be discussed.

The synthesis report will include (not an inclusive list):
• An overview of the practices and procedures transit agencies use to manage their scheduling human capital, including recruiting, selecting, training, and retaining schedulers and related staff. (The synthesis would also include data on transit scheduler wages.)
• Samples of agencies’ organizational chart.
• An overview of how schedulers are dealing with the increased amount of data available from ITS and increased data analysis expectations.
• A discussion of the differences in management practices when a public transit agency purchases transportation from a contractor.
• A depiction of innovations in transit scheduling human capital management—including new and creative ways to take advantage of technological advances that can improve the scheduling process.

Information Sources:
• Boyle, Daniel, Bonnie Nelson, John Pappas, Philip Boyle, David Sharfarz, Howard Benn. TCRP Report 135 – Controlling System Costs: Basic and Advanced Manuals and Contemporary Issues in Transit Scheduling. Transportation Research Board, Washington D.C., 2009.
• Lehman Center for Transportation Research. Transit Service Planning and Scheduling Training Manual. Miami, FL, 2015.
• Mistretta, Mark. Fixed Route Transit Scheduling in Florida: The State of the Industry. National Center for Transit Research, Tampa, FL, 2005.
• Pine, Randall, James Niemeyer, Russell Chisholm. TCRP Report 30 – Transit Scheduling: Basic and Advanced Manuals. Transportation Research Board, Washington D.C., 1998.
• ATU
• TRB Committee AP050, Bus Transit Systems.

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

Meeting Dates
First Panel: September 25, 2017, Washington, DC
Teleconference with Consultant: October 16, 2017, 1:00 p.m., EST
Second Panel: May 16, 2018, Irvine, CA

Topic Panel
Teresa Cashman, Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority - DART
Fabian Cevallos, Florida International University
Michael S. "Mike" Connelly, Chicago Transit Authority
Edmumd Dornheim, LANTA, TMD
Thomas M. Hewitt, Jr., Maryland Transit Administration
Ronald Kilcoyne, North County Transit District
Austin Lee, AC Transit
Walt G. Stringer, RTD Denver
Brittany Lavender, Federal Transit Administration
Brian L. Sherlock, Amalgamated Transit Union
Stephen J. Andrle, Transportation Research Board

 

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