Public transit agencies, in a bid to increase their performance, safety, and customer satisfaction levels, while also reducing costs, may opt to use transit contractors, such as National Express Transit, to provide vehicles, drivers, managers, and other employees, and additional critical resources. The use of transit contractors can offer a range of benefits to transit agencies, and these public/private arrangements may help increase the overall agency performance.
Here are 6 ways that agencies can improve their customer satisfaction, performance, and safety through the use of a transit contractor:
- Transit contractors can implement the latest tech and safety features quickly. By virtue of being in the private sector, contractors can have access to new technology features, such as location tracking, accident avoidance systems, and technology that automates a variety of tasks associated with the day-to-day operation of transit systems, as well as experience implementing that technology, and can quickly deploy these features in new or existing operations. Transit contractors often have access to proprietary routing, scheduling, and maintenance systems, which are designed to increase overall efficiency. In addition, the safety training, technology, and procedures of the contractor can complement those of the agency, leading to an increase in agency safety performance.
- Agencies can take advantage of transit contractors' knowledge and experience. As transit contractors operate in many different markets, and engage with a number of different agencies in various locations, they can bring a breadth and depth of expertise and best practices to an agency's operations, which may not otherwise be available in-house.
- Transit contractors can be more agile and flexible than transit agencies. Due to the breadth of a transit contractors' business, as opposed to a regional or municipal transit agency's more local focus, a contractor might offer advantages in the form of agility (in implementing new procedures, processes, and technology) and flexibility, which can be brought to bear in tasks such as opening new routes or services. A contractor can also offer additional flexibility in labor management, such as the ability to quickly bring on additional personnel if needed, as well as provide additional training.
- Agencies can use contract terms to set performance metrics. A transit contract can allow for agencies to set the specific terms and parameters for the fulfillment of the contract, and to specify how and when to monitor and evaluate the performance of the contractor. The judicious use of performance metrics within contract parameters (such as on-time performance and number of customer complaints) can allow agencies to set strict performance incentives or penalties. In addition, contractors can bring a wealth of technological tools to make tracking and reporting on performance metrics more accurate and user-friendly.
- The use of a transit contractor for some or all routes and services can help reduce agency labor costs and complexity. Agencies can reduce their internal workload, labor hours, and overall costs through the use of a transit contractor, which may increase the overall financial and operational performance, which frees up time and money for other agency responsibilities.
- Agencies can transfer some of their financial risks to contractors. By outsourcing some of their responsibilities to a transit contractor, some of their financial risks can also be transferred, leading to reduced risk exposure for the agency. This could take the form of vehicle costs, insurance, and employee-related financial risks, and will vary by the specific contract. According to a US GAO study, contracting could reduce a transit agency’s insurance costs by 45% or more, and can alleviate some of the costs of vehicles and maintenance facilities.
Transit agencies can take advantage of the benefits of using transit contractors within their service areas, while still retaining control over the operation across their routes, which can offer improved performance, increased safety, reduced costs, and improved customer satisfaction.