Audit of the City’s Paratransit Service
From Honolulu City Auditor, Report 16-02, March, 2016
OTS implemented several improvements. It increased its fleet size, Improved the availability of HandiVan vehicles; increased the use of supplemental taxis; and implemented 14 of 18 recommendations listed in the Short Range Transit Operations Plan of May 2012. Despite implementing these initiatives, OTS Handi-Van on-time performance has declined 5% over the past three years; customers experience excessive trip times; and para transit operations do not fully comply with ADA requirements.
Requests for demand services are difficult to meet and the operational deficiencies exist because OTS has not made full use of scheduling and dispatching technologies; needs to fully implement real-time scheduling; and needed to solve MDT failures that adversely impacted paratransit operations. OTS needs to operationally comply with ADA requirements related to subscription trip volume (ADA limit is 50% of capacity); minimize trying to provide services not required by ADA; and improve internal controls over subscriptions so demand services can be filled. Absent these improvements, OTS operations will continue to be inadequate to support current customer demand; operating costs will continue to increase; and potential revenues will not be collected.
Paratransit revenues are insufficient to sustain the program services. The last fare Increase occurred in 2001. Program costs total $40 per trip and users are charged $2 per trip. This amounts to $40 million per year in operating costs versus revenues of about $1.7 million per year (less than 5% fare box recovery rate). In our opinion, paratransit revenues can be increased. Subscription and demand user fares can be increased, and agencies, in particular, can be charged the full costs or higher fares for the service.
Our recommendations include DTS directing OTS to comply with ADA requirements in areas such as capacity constraints and trip purpose restrictions. They include subscription management, on-time performance, trips with excessive trip times, volume of agency customers, and prioritizing agency trips.
OTS needs to reduce the number of No Solution Found and Unscheduled trips by improving its use of the trip scheduling (Trapeze) computer system, putting more of its operations on real-time scheduling, and eliminating the reliance on manually amending trip runs DTS and OTS need to establish formal policies, procedures, and application process for its subscription program; implement a monitoring program to ensure that subscription levels do not exceed 50% of capacity as required by ADA; adhere to the ADA minimum 3/4 mile service area for Handi-Vans or charge extra for the service; and enforce conditional eligibility restrictions.
OTS needs to track, report, and establish performance benchmarks; develop an action plan to mitigate excessive trip times; and establish a formal Customer Satisfaction/Service Quality Program that obtains direct customer feedback. OTS should also continue to manage and expand taxi-based resources to supplement operations, monitor Mobile Data Terminal (MDT) performance, and recover applicable costs related to MDT deficiency corrections.
DTS needs to improve oversight of OTS and develop a comprehensive five-year plan for managing the paratransit fleet; establish a tiered fare structure that charges more for agency trips, out-of-service area trips, and other premium services not required by the ADA. DTS should conduct annual audits as required by ROH. Additionally, DTS should assess the need, frequency and scope of the annual audit requirement and, if applicable, seek amendments to the ordinance.
The City Council should amend Revised Ordinances of Honolulu to increase the paratransit system fares; improve the cost recovery ratio; and separate the fixed-route and paratransit operations....
read … Audit of the City’s Paratransit
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