Transportation Planning, Analysis and Studies

Transportation Alternatives has conducted a wide range of studies and planning projects for Federal, State, regional, county and local governments, and private research, financial and operating companies and organizations. Summaries of selected studies are presented below.

Examination of Special Paratransit Systems for Elderly and Disabled Persons

For the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and its Urban Mass Transportation Administration (now Federal Transit Administration), TA conducted a comprehensive analysis of 30 paratransit systems in 18 U.S. cities to identify the principles which govern system efficiency and establish a logical sequence for decision-making in the system design process. This effort led to USDOT’s publication of a three-volume manual on planning and system design authored by TA President Ned Einstein covering a vast array of paratransit planning, system design, management, evaluation and operating topics (see Principles of Paratransit System Design.)

Prior to TA’s formation, TA President Ned Einstein conducted a survey of the impacts of the half-fare provision for the Elderly on transit revenue, and prepared the Summary of the National Survey of Handicapped People submitted to Congress. That document led directly to the Carter Administration’s implementation of the doctrine of “full accessibility” on fixed route transit systems, and a decade and a half later, to the core principles of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Transit Needs Studies

TA performed detailed transit needs studies, and prepared formal transportation plans, for five Los Angeles County communities: Beverly Hills, South Pasadena, Whittier, Carson and Redondo Beach. Developed largely to guide the cities’ expenditure of Proposition A Local Return Funds (from the County’s first half-cent sales tax for public transportation), these studies typically included the establishment of formal goals and objectives, review of existing secondary documentation (including previous plans and studies), evaluation of Census data, projection of levels of transit and paratransit demand, examination of existing systems and services and their characteristics and constraints, identification of unmet demand, development and evaluation of service alternatives, and recommendations for addressing unmet transportation needs. Several Plans contained preliminary system designs for services to address the needs identified.

Coordination and Consolidation of Paratransit Services

TA conducted six major studies related to the coordination and/or consolidation of paratransit services:

  • Orange County, California. For the Orange County Transportation Commission (now consolidated into the Orange County Transportation Authority) and as a subcontractor to DAVE Transportation, TA evaluated a number of options for coordinating and/or consolidating the scores of separate social service agency-operated paratransit systems operating independently within the County. The study resulted in the formation of a countywide Consolidated Transportation Service Area (CTSA) encompassing more than 45 social service agency paratransit systems shortly following the study’s publication, in the early 1980’s.
  • West Side Consolidation Study. For the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission (currently LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority), TA conducted a study of the feasibility of coordinating and/or consolidating the special paratransit services operated by municipalities and social service agencies in the City of Los Angeles’ West Side, Santa Monica, Culver City, Beverly Hills and unincorporated areas of the County adjacent to them. While no significant coordination or consolidation resulted immediately from the study, these communities’ intercity paratransit services were eventually consolidated into a countywide “Metro Access” system operated by independent contractors serving the LACMTA, and directed by the LACMTA’s paratransit operating subsidiary Access Services, Inc.
  • Consolidation of the VALTRANS and NLACRC Systems. In response to the coordination and/or consolidation of social service paratransit services mandated by California Assembly Bill AB 120, TA designed the consolidation of the City of Los Angeles’ VALTRANS program (for elderly and disabled individuals — which TA designed) with a separate program for developmentally disabled clients of the North Los Angeles County Regional Center (NLACRC) operating in the same service area (in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley). These two systems were effectively consolidated under a brokerage program supervised by TA-owned operating company PTS Transportation.
  • Consolidation of all ELARCA Paratransit Services. TA examined the feasibility, and determined the service provision costs, of consolidating the complete array of separate transportation services provided to clients of the East Los Angeles Retarded Citizens Association (ELARCA) into the service structure of the Agency’s primary service provider, the East Los Angeles Community Union (TELACU). While total consolidation was not affected, a large portion of service was reallocated to a consolidated TELACU operation.
  • Consolidation of all NLACRC Paratransit Services. As the technical consultant to PTS Transportation during the latter’s 10 years of service to NLACRC, TA directed the eventual consolidation of all paratransit services into the PTS Transportation structure. This comprehensive consolidation effort included revisions in program start times, locational changes in program sites, and TA’s development of a range of cost-saving policies related to program attendance, ridership guidelines, storage area decentralization and other service parameters — resulting in an average vehicle deployment of nine hours a day (for a split-shift operation!), a reduction in deadhead time to less than 20 percent, ninety-nine percent on-time performance, the provision of five passenger trips per vehicle service hour (including a majority of relatively long trips), and the saving of millions of dollars in operating costs over the Company’s contract period (1982-1992).
  • Integration of Pupil Transportation and other Services. As a subcontractor to Cambridge-based MultiSystems (currently TransSystems), TA examined the 12-County consolidation of public transportation services in the Florida panhandle, as part of a National Academy of Sciences-funded program directed by its Transportation Cooperative Research Program.

Privatization Studies

TA conducted the first two comparative cost studies of privatization versus public sector transit operations in Los Angeles County’s South Bay and Pomona Valley, respectively. The latter study resulted, years later, in the County transit agency’s replacement of much of its fixed route transit with contracted services provided by Foothill Transit, a subregional lead agency which contracts with private transportation providers for its service. Both studies found that private companies could provide equivalent service at less than one fourth the current subsidies required by the incumbent public sector transit agency, SCRTD (now the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority).

Seat Belt Feasibility Study

Upon the request of L’association Internationale pour le Sécurité du Transport des Jeunes (A.I.S.T.), TA conducted a comprehensive literature search, and prepared a detailed analysis, of the feasibility of installing lap belts in U.S.-manufactured school buses. The analysis revealed more than 40 reasons why such installation is problamatic and in many cases dangerous. A Summary of this report was published in School Transportation News (“Why Seat Belts Should Not Be Installed on Large School Buses: A Summary Report” (May, 1999): 18, 19). The full report was published on STN’s website Reference: “Occupant Restraints/Seat Belt Table of Contents/Why Not?”.

Motorcoach Driver Fatigue and Hours-of-Service Compliance

As a subcontractor to Circadian Technologies, Inc., TA developed and conducted a survey of motorcoach operators, and otherwise analyzed the operating environment and duty cycles of motorcoach operations with respect to their impact on driver fatigue.

Exportation of Russian Buses and Evaluation of Products and Production Facilities

As a subcontractor to Bain & Associates in 1995, TA examined the product line and production facilities of Russian bus manufacturing giant PAZ (in Pavlova, Russia), and prepared a detailed report submitted to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which funded the project.

School Bus Performance and Loading/Unloading Problems

Along with Dunlap & Associates and the Pupil Transportation Safety Institute (PTSI), TA conducted a study of on-time performance of the special education school bus service to disabled students in the District of Columbia, as well as a detailed analysis of seven of the service area’s schools experiencing the greatest loading and unloading problems effecting efficiency, on-time performance and passenger safety. TA participated in the preparation of a detailed report describing the system’s problems, and in particular, the verification of data provided by the School District to a court-appointed Special Master appointed to oversee improvements in the system under the auspices of a class action lawsuit (Petties v. District of Columbia).

Examination of Paratransit Scheduling Software

As a subcontractor to Alberta-based AQL Consultants, TA undertook an analysis of the City of Edmonton’s Disabled Adults Transportation System (DATS), including an examination of DATS’ custom-designed software and scheduling algorithms. A key component of this effort involved the scheduling of a sample of 500 trips by five different software programs (including the “incumbent” program) and an “average scheduler” performing the scheduling manually. The project results corroborated the findings of my own USDOT study almost 25 years earlier in finding that the most sophisticated software, including the “running” of “improvement algorithms” to refine the originally-scheduled trips, was barely more efficient in creating schedules than those created by the system’s “average scheduler”. Otherwise, the study’s Final Report included a litany of recommendations for planning, system design, operating, institutional and policy and procedural changes.

Re-Design of State-of-Rhode Island’s Statewide Paratransit System

For the State’s Department of Administrative Services, TA redesigned the statewide paratransit service over which its statewide transit agency, RIPTA, served as broker. As a result of the study, 11 service areas were consolidated into six, and RIPTA itself won the bid as the operator for six of them. Because of the potential conflict of interest that would have occurred had RIPTA negotiated a contract for these three areas with itself, TA served as a proxy for RIPTA, the broker, in negotiating its three operating contracts for its own provision of service in three of the six service area.

While funding for all forms of demand-responsive service in the State had already been consolidated under the RIPTA brokerage umbrella, service for these agencies’ clients was being provided separately by RIPTA’s contractors, in all 11 former service areas. So TA’s plan included revisions to the service delivery structure whereby service would be consolidated at the operating level, as well as the funding level. In the course of this effort, TA created the Request for Proposals, its grading scale, oversaw (but did not participate directly in) the evaluation process, and authored and negotiated the operating contracts between RIPTA and the non-RIPTA contractors who had won the respective bids in their service areas.

Regular Authorship of Safety-Related Magazine Articles

Since 2000, TA President Ned Einstein has authored a monthly column on the subject of “Safety and Liability” for National Bus Trader, one of the nation’s principal motorcoach industry trade publications. In addition, since 2007, Mr. Einstein began authoring monthly articles on the subject of crossing (“The Crossing Guy”) for School Transportation News — one of the nation’s two school bus industry publications with a readership of 90,000.

Motorcoach Academy

Mr. Einstein served as an initial instructor in the United Motorcoach Academy’s Bus and Motorcoach Institute, run by Southern Maryland University. As the instructor of an on-line course, Mr. Einstein taught a curriculum centered around Customer Service.

Independent Studies of TA President Ned Einstein prior to Company’s formation

Prior to his formation of Transportation Alternatives, TA President Ned Einstein conducted a number of significant studies for the U.S. Department of Transportation and other government agencies. These included:

  • Preparation of the Summary Report of the National Survey of Transportation Handicapped submitted to the U.S. Congress (1977)
  • Development of a Work Program for the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Department of Policy and Planning (for Linton and Company)
  • Identification of Barriers to the Diffusion of Information in the Transit Industry (for the Urban Mass Transportation Administration, currently the Federal Transit Administration)
  • Development of the proposal for (and Acting Directorship of) the UMTA-sponsored National Conference on Transit Performance (September, 1977, Norfolk, VA) and editing of the Conference Proceedings
  • Authorship of USDOT-published information bulletin on Transit Productivity (for Public Technology, Inc.)
  • Authorship of USDOT-published information bulletin on Alternative Work Schedules (for Public Technology, Inc.)
  • Editing of USDOT-published manual on Priority Treatment of High Occupancy Vehicles (for Public Technology, Inc.)