Mineta Transportation Institute Study: Regional Transit Service Under Contracting
New Orleans case study evaluates delegated management of transit services and barriers to coordination
SAN JOSE, Calif., May 9, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) has just released its Research Report 10-09, Examination of Regional Transit Service Under Contracting: A Case Study in the Greater New Orleans Region. A research team lead by Hiroyuki Iseki, PhD, and Charles Rivasplata, PhD, produced a study that should provide valuable information on delegated management, a transit service contracting approach new to the U.S., and its effects on the service provision and transit users’ perception of service quality in the New Orleans transit system. This study also identified a coherent set of indices with which to evaluate regional coordination of transit service, the present status of coordination among U.S. transit agencies, and barriers that must be resolved for regional transit coordination to be successful. The report is available for free download at www.transweb.sjsu.edu/project/2904.html
This study examines two main research questions. First, what is the effect of a “delegated management” contract on efficiency and effectiveness within a single transit system? And second, what are the effects of a single private firm — contracted separately by more than one agency in the same region — on regional coordination?
“Many local governments and transit agencies in the US face financial difficulties in providing adequate public transit service in individual systems, and in providing sufficient regional coordination to accommodate transit trips involving at least one transfer between systems,” said Dr. Iseki. “These problems can be attributed to the recent economic downturn, reduced state and federal funds that help support local transit service, a decline in local funding for transit service in inner cities due to ongoing suburbanization, and a resource distribution that responds to geographic equity without addressing service needs.”
The Greater New Orleans region has a unique condition regarding provision of transit service. First, New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) executed a “delegated management” contract with a multinational private firm, outsourcing more functions (e.g., management, planning, funding) to the contractor than has been typical in the U.S. And second, the same contractor also has been contracted by another transit agency in an adjacent jurisdiction – Jefferson Transit (JeT). Therefore, this firm potentially may have economic incentives to improve regional coordination so it can increase the productivity and effectiveness of its own transit service provision.
The researchers surveyed 461 transit users in Orleans and Jefferson parishes, rating responses on a scale of Importance-Satisfaction to determine how riders perceive the quality of service in each transit system. The study also evaluates RTA and JeT performance under different contracts over time, examining each agency’s financial and operating data, such as operating expenses, service quantity, consumption level of transit service, and several performance indicators for efficiency and effectiveness.
The study also analyzed questionnaires and interviews collected from directors and planners at RTA, JeT, and New Orleans Regional Planning Commission (RPC), comparing them with data from a nationwide survey of transit agencies on regional coordination indicators.
“The status of regional coordination in the New Orleans urbanized area is clear,” said Dr. Rivasplata. “Officials from the two transit agencies and metropolitan planning organization in the region have acknowledged the need for greater coordination and have expressed a desire to solve the problem. However, the current level of coordination between RTA and JeT is very low for most aspects covered in our survey, including fare, service schedule, information, facilities, and joint agreements.”
The complete report, which was also funded by Gulf Coast Research Center for Evacuation and Transportation Resiliency, University of New Orleans, is available for free download from the Mineta Transportation Institute at www.transweb.sjsu.edu/project/2904.html
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Hiroyuki Iseki, PhD, is an assistant professor of the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, and is also appointed as a research faculty with the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education at the University of Maryland, College Park. He holds a Masters of Engineering from the University of Tokyo, Japan, and MA and PhD in Urban Planning from UCLA.
Charles Rivasplata, PhD, is a lecturer in the Urban and Regional Planning Department at San Jose State University, as well as a senior transport planner at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). Dr. Rivasplata holds both a Master of Science in Civil Engineering and a Master of City Planning from UC Berkeley (1991); and a PhD in Transportation Policy from UC Davis (2006).
Rebecca Houtman obtained her masters degree in Urban Studies from the University of New Orleans in 2010.
Adam L. Smith is a graduate student in the Urban and Regional Planning Department at San Jose State University in California.
Carl Seifert and Tiffany Sudar are graduate students in the master’s program in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of New Orleans.
ABOUT THE MINETA TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE
The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) was established by Congress in 1991 as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) and was reauthorized under TEA-21 and again under SAFETEA-LU. The institute is funded by Congress through the US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Research and Innovative Technology Administration, by the California Legislature through the Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and by other public and private grants and donations, including grants from the US Department of Homeland Security. DOT selected MTI as a National Center of Excellence following competitions in 2002 and 2006. The internationally respected members of the MTI Board of Trustees represent all major surface transportation modes. MTI’s focus on policy and management resulted from the Board’s assessment of the transportation industry’s unmet needs. That led directly to choosing the San Jose State University College of Business as the Institute’s home. MTI conducts research, education, and information and technology transfer, focusing on multimodal surface transportation policy and management issues. Visit www.transweb.sjsu.edu
Contact: Donna Maurillo
MTI Communications Director
donna.maurillo (at) sjsu.edu
SOURCE Mineta Transportation Institute