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DART First State ADA Compliance Review - August 29, 2008

Location: Dover, DE
Date of Final Report: August 29, 2008  

Delaware Transit Corporation (DART First State) Transmittal Letter 

August 29, 2008  
Re:  ADA Complementary Paratransit Compliance Review Final Report

Dear Mr. Kingsberry:

Thank you for your response dated April 4, 2008, to the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) letter and preliminary report of findings of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) Complementary Paratransit compliance review conducted from May 15 to 18, 2007, of Delaware Transit Corporation’s (DART) ADA complementary paratransit service.  Enclosed is the Final Report that incorporates DART’s official response by attachment.  As of the date of this letter the Final Report became a public document and is subject to dissemination under the Freedom of Information Act of 1974.

Enclosed with this letter is a progress table listing FTA’s understanding of the corrective actions either planned or taken by DART in response to the preliminary findings contained in the draft report.  If you feel that our summarization of corrective actions is inconsistent with your response, please inform us in writing as soon as possible.

Following most of the areas where findings were made, we have:

  • Identified responses that adequately address the finding
  • Requested documentation of results and outcomes
  • Requested  DART to clarify specific corrective actions based on DART’s response to the report findings

Please use the enclosed table as the format to report progress to FTA on the corrective actions that DART has completed or intends to implement as a result of our findings.  Please identify each response by item number (e.g., 1.1, etc.).  The requested documentation, along with updates on the status of implementation of proposed corrective actions, should be provided in quarterly reports to FTA.  Each report should include the planned and actual completion date of the corrective action; the current status and contact person information for each corrective action; and specific reporting requests cited in this letter and on the enclosed table.  The first report will be due on October 15, 2008, and should include data for the months of July through September 2008, and any actions completed prior to that date that have not already been addressed.  Additional reports will be due by January 15, 2009, April 15, 2009, and each calendar quarter thereafter until FTA releases DART from this reporting requirement.

We recognize the progress that you have made in responding to the findings of the review as presented in your April 4, 2008 letter.  In addition to these efforts, we request that your first progress report more fully respond to the following findings, which are also addressed in the progress table.

1. Service Criteria

  • 1.   Finding:  DART paratransit service is not provided during all days and times that DART fixed route service operates.  Service hours for DART paratransit vary by county and by day of week.  However, certain fixed routes start earlier than the paratransit service hours and others end later.  Lack of ADA complementary paratransit service during the same days and hours of fixed route service fails to comply with the requirements of 49 CFR §37.131(a).

    4/4/08 Corrective Action Proposed by DART:
    a. Statewide -Review all existing routes to determine what services are fixed route versus commuter route.

    Additional reporting:  Please report on progress in future Quarterly Progress Reports.

    b. Resort - Working with Resort staff and Reservations for upcoming season to ensure that customers are provided service within ¾ mile of the fixed routes during all hours of operation.

    Additional reporting:  Please report on progress in future Quarterly Progress Reports.

    c. Develop plan to identify ADA Paratransit Service from other services provided.

    Additional reporting:  Please report on progress in your next Quarterly Progress Report.  DART’s Paratransit Service Plan is proposed as a corrective action for several of the findings; therefore, please provide specifics on how the Plan will address each finding.

2. ADA Complementary Paratransit Eligibility

  • 2.  Finding:  DART grants conditional eligibility to some individuals based on the purpose of the trip, such as work or dialysis.  Section 37.131(d) of the DOT ADA regulations states that service restrictions or priorities must not be imposed on the basis of trip purpose.

    4/4/08 Corrective Action Proposed by DART:
    a. Refresher training for all eligibility staff.  Written procedures being developed to clearly identify appropriate use of Conditional Eligibility.


    Additional reporting:  Please provide a copy of the written procedures concerning conditional eligibility.

    b. Long Term – Plan being developed to convert to a Trip-By-Trip Methodology for Fixed Route.

    Additional reporting:  Please report on progress in future Quarterly Progress Reports, including a brief summary of findings from your research.

4. Trip Reservations and Scheduling

  • 7.  Finding:  During scheduling, if the estimated pickup time is earlier than the time negotiated and scheduled with the customer, the scheduler adjusts the scheduled time to match the estimated arrival time.  Rescheduling the trip without customer approval can cause miscommunication and untimely trips.  DART relies upon communications between scheduler, reservationists, customer, dispatcher, and operator to affirm that the time change is made correctly.  If there is miscommunication, the time the operator has on the manifest is the time changed by the scheduler, not the time negotiated with the customer.  This procedure appears to be cumbersome and can contribute to missed trips or untimely pickups.

    4/4/08 Corrective Action Proposed by DART:
    a. Existing procedure for time changes is being reviewed.

    *Step B below will minimize the need for time change.

    b. Develop plan to identify ADA Paratransit Service from other services provided.


    Additional reporting:  In your next Quarterly Progress Report, please report on progress in improving the scheduling procedure and communication among responsible personnel.  Please comment on how the new Paratransit Service plan will help to address this finding

5.  Service Performance

  • 1.  Finding:  DART’s procedure of allowing 60 minutes of travel time for all trips, combined with its pickup window of 0/+30 minutes, may result in late drop-offs or very early drop-offs.

    4/4/08 Corrective Action Proposed by DART:
    Develop plan to identify ADA Paratransit Service from other services provided


    Additional reporting:  In your next Quarterly Progress Report, please discuss how the finding regarding assumed travel time will be addressed and whether estimated time based on straight line travel distance or similar proxy will be used to make paratransit performance comparable to fixed route travel time in DART’s Paratransit Service Plan.
  • 2.  Finding:  DART’s travel time standard of 60 minutes per county traveled may allow unreasonably long paratransit travel times for short trips or for inter-county trips.  The travel time standard may also unfairly penalize DART for long inter-county trips.

    4/4/08 Corrective Action Proposed by DART:
    Develop plan to identify ADA Paratransit Service from other services provided.


    Additional reporting:  In your next Quarterly Progress Report, please discuss how travel time assumptions for short trips and time estimates for inter-county trips will be addressed in DART’s Paratransit Service Plan.
  • 3.  Finding:  DART dispatchers do not use the Trapeze software to “perform” trips.  They rely on periodic updates from the operators to know when pickups and drop-offs occur.  This limits dispatchers’ ability to estimate the real-time schedule adherence of the vehicles.

    4/4/08 Corrective Action Proposed by DART:
    Radio, CAD/AVL RFP going out in 2009


    Additional reporting:  In your next Quarterly Progress Report, please discuss how the use of new radio, CAD/AVL, and Trapeze 7.0 will be used to allow dispatcher to estimate real-time schedule adherence in the context of DART’s Paratransit Service Plan.  Will Trapeze be used to “perform” trips in progress?
  • 6.  Finding:  Five of the nine operators interviewed did not know the correct pickup window.

    4/4/08 Corrective Action Proposed by DART:
    The pickup window is defined in the Operator Training Manual. 


    [See Attachment 4.5.6 for details]

    Additional reporting:  In your next Quarterly Progress Report please report on monitoring efforts to confirm that operators understand the pickup window concept and use it properly in practice.
  • 10. Finding:  Using the available data for the five-day sample period, the review team calculated DART’s performance for on-time drop-offs at 75 percent.  This is close to the monthly on-time drop-off performance reported by DART for July 2006 to February 2007.  Furthermore, the sample data showed that 10 percent of drop-offs were more than 20 minutes late, with seven percent more than 30 minutes late.  This poor performance for drop-offs could be considered as a substantial portion of significantly late drop-offs.

    4/4/08 Corrective Action Proposed by DART:
    Develop plan to identify ADA Paratransit Service from other services provided


    Additional reporting:  In your next Quarterly Progress Report, please report on how DART’s Paratransit Service Plan will address and improve on-time performance for trips with requested drop-off times. 
  • 13. Finding:  When the actual travel times of 44 long ADA paratransit trips (those with travel times of 2 hours or more) provided between March 19 and March 23 were compared with the estimated travel times for comparable fixed route trips, those DART ADA paratransit travel times were longer than comparable fixed route travel times by an average of 47 minutes.  The average paratransit travel time was 141 minutes, while the average fixed route travel time was 94 minutes for long trips.  Travel times on ADA paratransit trips exceeded the comparable fixed route travel time by an average of 20 minutes in Kent County, 36 minutes in Sussex County, and 52 minutes in New Castle County.

    4/4/08 Corrective Action Proposed by DART:
    Develop plan to identify ADA Paratransit Service from other services provided.


    Additional reporting:  In your next Quarterly Progress Report, please discuss how the Paratransit Service Plan will affect trip time compared to fixed route trip times for long trips, particularly in Kent, Sussex, and New Castle counties.
  • 14. Finding:  DART does not directly track the total travel time for paratransit trips that require transfers.  DART tracks each leg of such paratransit trips separately and does not track time spent waiting for transfer vehicles.  Consequently, DART has no means of identifying trips with transfers that are longer than travel on fixed route, for instance because the paratransit uses a less direct route than the fixed route or because DART has not accounted for wait times at the transfer point.

    4/4/08 Corrective Action Proposed by DART:
    GoLink Connector Trips terminated based on internal reviews and in working with the EDTAC.


    Clarification of Corrective Action:  Please clarify whether the termination of GoLink means that there are no longer any paratransit transfer trips (the finding concerned transfer waiting times not being included in travel time comparison with fixed route service).
  • 15. Finding:  Over half of the long paratransit trips analyzed had travel times that exceeded the comparable fixed route travel time by more than 60 minutes; however, these trips made up less than .5 percent of all the ADA paratransit trips provided in the sample week.  It is possible, however, that a significant number of additional trips were substantially longer than comparable trips on the fixed route, since this analysis only looked to trips that were over 120 minutes.  Many trips that are less than 120 minutes, but more than 60 minutes, could be substantially longer than comparable fixed route trips, particularly in the absence of detailed monitoring of such trips by DART.

    4/4/08 Corrective Action Proposed by DART:
    Develop plan to identify ADA Paratransit Service from other services provided.


    Additional reporting:  In your next Quarterly Progress Report, please report on how DART’s Paratransit Service Plan will address and monitor comparability of paratransit travel times (particularly for long trips) with the corresponding fixed route service.
  • 16. Finding:  A number of facility addresses appeared several times on the list of long paratransit trips, which could be resulting in repeated long travel times for some ADA riders.

    4/4/08 Corrective Action Proposed by DART:
    Develop plan to identify ADA Paratransit Service from other services provided.


    Additional reporting:  In your next Quarterly Progress Report, please report on how DART’s Paratransit Service Plan will address the issue of travel time to facilities which appear repeatedly on the list of the longest paratransit trips.
  • 17. Finding:  During the sample week, 13 percent of trips provided in Kent County exceeded the DART maximum travel time standard of 60 minutes.  In New Castle County, nearly 10 percent of trips exceeded the applicable DART maximum travel time standard of 60 minutes.  In Sussex County, less than 1 percent of trips exceeded the DART maximum travel time standard of 2 hours.

    Response requested:  In your next Quarterly Progress Report please report on how DART’s Paratransit Service Plan will address travel time in Kent and New Castle Counties.

We appreciate the cooperation and assistance that you and your staff have provided us during this review.  If you have any questions about this matter, please contact Jonathan Klein, the program manager for this review, at (202) 366-0809 or at his e-mail address: jonathan.klein@dot.govYou can also contact Betty Jackson at betty.jackson@dot.gov for an electronic version of the reporting chart.

It would also be very helpful to us if you would provide a copy of all correspondence to this office to Deborah Haines, the FTA Region III Civil Rights Officer, at: deborah.haines@dot.gov.  Thank you for your continued cooperation.

Sincerely,

Cheryl L. Hershey
Director
Office of Civil Rights

Enclosures

cc:   Letitia Thompson, FTA Region III Administrator
Deborah Haines, FTA Region III Civil Rights Officer
Michael McCollum, FTA Region III Director of Program Management & Oversight

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