MSAA Research Results and Findings
MSAA Phase 1
The original MSAA Initiative developed eight innovative approaches to coordinating and delivering human services transportation. In developing TMCC concepts of operations and system designs, the sites varied in their visions:
- The major area of emphasis for all sites was customer service. All sites envisioned a system that provides an easy means (e.g., one-stop) for customers to get information about the transportation services available to them.
- Six of the eight sites felt that the TMCC gave them the ability to serve more clients.
- Two sites specifically focused on expanded service to provide better transportation to jobs for those who need it.
- The operational benefits of the TMCC were the second major area of emphasis. Most sites expect to realize efficiencies through, for example, elimination of duplication in paperwork or services. Themes of centralization and coordination were apparent in the responses of sites in terms of enhanced service delivery or unified billing. Only one site said it expected a reduction in costs.
- Four sites emphasized the role of the providers, expecting the TMCC to enable more providers, especially small operators, to be involved in human services transportation.
- One site considered coordinated services as a key component for emergency evacuations.
- All sites saw the TMCC as a means for taking a regional or inter-county approach to coordinating transportation.
The process of engaging local stakeholders in the TMCC system design has generated a higher degree of awareness of ITS within the human services field and has generated some early efficiencies in the delivery of transportation services.
Some observations from the implementing agencies include:
- Increased staff productivity;
- Integrated point of access for traveler support;
- Improved fleet scheduling, dispatching, and routing;
- Streamlined reporting, billing, and financial transactions;
- Simplified fare payment, collection, and processing;
- Enhanced traveler information and travel management capability with accessibility features; and
- Ability to address last-minute requests and cancellations without significant effort or inefficiencies.
The MSAA Initiative has provided a platform that has effectively raised stakeholder awareness and excitement about the human services-transportation coordination opportunities.
- Project site meetings attract active participation from State and local government decision-makers, transportation operators, human service agencies, and clients.
- Elected officials are attending meetings and offering their support to the MSAA teams.
- Industry vendors actively participate and contribute their expertise.
HST service provider Aiken, SC (Source: Mobility Services for All Americans Initiative: Systems Impact Evaluation – Final Report, Aiken, SC, November 2013)
MSAA Phase 2
The 3 model deployment sites in Phase 2 (Aiken, SC, Camden, NJ, and Paducah, KY) were evaluated based on efficiency, cost, coordination and customer satisfaction. Below are some of the research findings from model deployment:
- Use of TMCC technology and equipment increases the number of rides able to be provided with the same or fewer assets - The majority of the providers felt that their customer base increased as a result of the technologies. They noted that the technologies have made it easier to accept add-on trips.
- Use of TMCC technology and equipment allows partners to make more efficient use of the time they spend on transportation issues - the software has made it more efficient to coordinate schedules.
- Use of TMCC technology and equipment results in more efficient schedules for demand response trips; The new TMCC technology and equipment allows the human service transportation providers to increase service offerings (e.g., previously un-served origin-destination pairs) - providers faced with using the software most, still reported that their scheduling processes have been improved as a result of the new technologies. Most of the providers build their schedules around Medicaid trips because they rely heavily on Medicaid funding and cannot afford to send a vehicle on a trip unless a Medicaid patient is on-board.
- Use of TMCC technology and equipment reduces the operating cost of demand-responsive transit services - Most providers believed that the technology reduced their operating costs primarily through improving efficiency and requiring fewer labor hours for scheduling and verification.
- Improved coordination will allow the region to leverage better funded programs such as Medicaid into services for programs with limited or no funding - As noted earlier, most of the providers leverage Medicaid funding by building their schedules so that non-Medicaid passengers are on a vehicle that is also serving Medicaid-funded trip. The scheduling software clearly shows when and where the Medicaid trips are so staff members can determine whether they can accommodate other trips on the same route. One provider also noted that because of scheduling and dispatching efficiencies they can now more easily add day-of requests for non-Medicaid trips to vehicles with pre-scheduled Medicaid trips.
- The use of a single, coordinated system will improve communication between diverse agencies - Despite the setbacks the providers have faced, they acknowledged the value of inter-agency coordination and were optimistic about coordinating more in the future. They commented that coordination “gives a wider range of people a ride to their destination,” “saves fuel, time, money on drivers [and] funding,” and can increase the number of trips provided.
- The end users (riders) and secondary stakeholders (human and social service agencies) using the TMCC are satisfied with its performance; riders and secondary stakeholders are not generally aware of the new TMCC and the changes it facilitates. - Most of the providers felt that their existing customers were not aware of the new technologies. One staff member felt that customers are frustrated with the extra time it takes drivers to key information onto the MDCs in addition to the paper manifest. However, others believed customer satisfaction has improved as a result of the technology, whether or not the customers were aware that the technology was the cause for improvement. One provider thought the ability to accept more add-on trips “has changed the way [customers] look at transportation itself because they don’t have to hear the word ‘no’.” Before the technology, this provider had to turn down more trip requests because they were not as easy to add to the schedule, but now that they can easily send requests to drivers and see where drivers are along their routes, they can accept more requests.