How to Select a Shuttle Service Provider?
Safety and reliability are the two most important factors to consider while choosing a shuttle service provider. Here are some questions to ask about vehicles, drivers and the organization itself when shopping for a shuttle service. The price of service is important but should not be the primary yardstick used to select a provider.
- What is the average age of the vehicles in the fleet? Most of the vehicles that are used for shuttle services have a limited life-span of three to five years or about 150,000 miles per vehicle. An aging fleet is less reliable.
- What level of insurance does the provider carry? New Jersey requires a minimum $1.5 million of insurance. However, to deal effectively with the outcomes of a catastrophic accident it would be prudent to have coverage of $5 million or more.
- How much of the fleet is kept in reserve? A useful rule of thumb is that 20 percent of vehicles should be held in reserve to deal with emergencies and regular maintenance.
- Do the vehicles have the latest technology? Vehicles should be equipped with GPS and in-vehicle cameras which document driving safety and provide video footage in the event of an accident. Additionally, it confirms on-time performance.
- How are vehicle inspections handled? The provider should inspect each vehicle at the beginning and end of each shift that the vehicle is operated. New Jersey Department of Transportation inspections should be performed according to schedule.
- How are drivers selected and trained? Shuttle drivers should have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) with passenger endorsement, a clean driving record and a minimum of two years of experience.
- What is the drug and alcohol policy? The provider must strictly follow a policy that complies with the Federal Transit Administration guidelines. All drivers must be tested as specified, including random tests.
- How many drivers are there? The operator should have sufficient back-up drivers available at all times to deal with contingencies.
- How are the drivers monitored? Every driver’s performance should be reviewed periodically. Based on the results, they should be briefed throughout the year to improve their driving skills.
- What is the driver turnover rate? There is an acute shortage of CDL drivers and turnover is high. However, it is a cause for concern and the provider should be asked to explain it.
Beyond the driver and the vehicle, it’s important to confirm the following about the shuttle service provider.
- Safety Rating: Check the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Safety Administration safety rating if it is an inter-state provider.
- Customer Service: The provider must have established protocols for communicating with riders directly and dealing with customer service complaints including time frames for corrective action.
- Field Inspections: Field staff is crucial to physically monitor on-time performance, driver safety, and gather direct feedback from riders regarding the quality of service.
- Federal Funding: Organizations that receive federal funding are held to a higher standard and are subject to audits and inspections. In addition, this brings down the cost of the shuttle program for you.
Once these criteria have been examined, then the price of the shuttle should be considered.