strategy for managing resources—is a powerful tool for doing more with the
resources you now have. Fundamentally, coordination is about sharing power
among organizations that are working together to achieve common goals.
Coordination means sharing all the key components of power—responsibility,
management, and funding.
Coordination often means working with people who are not used to working
together. This typically requires crossing over long-standing barriers and
boundaries: different political jurisdictions, agency responsibilities,
professional interests, and modes of transportation all need to be bridged.
Issues of differing objectives, interests, jurisdictions, regulations,
funding sources, and even vocabularies need to be overcome in order for joint
activities to proceed. A key first step is to clearly define and communicate
what is meant by coordinated transportation. It’s then necessary to find the
combination of resources and stakeholders that uniquely addresses key
transportation issues in each community. Coordination’s results—often
beneficial—can include the blending of travel purposes, client types, travel
modes, funding sources, vehicle types, and the needs of different political
Coordination of transportation systems is thus a process in which two or more
organizations interact to jointly accomplish their transportation objectives.
A broad perspective is a key element: effective coordination requires a focus
on the entire community, or maybe even on multiple communities.
Who Needs to be Involved in Coordinated Transportation?
Rural communities may have many public and private agencies and organizations
that provide or purchase transportation services. Agencies and their
representatives that need to be included in any transportation planning
process include the following:
private, and agency transportation providers;
of human and social services;
of health and mental health;
agencies on aging;
and/or developmental disabilities departments;
business representatives; and
nonprofit organizations, such as the Red Cross, the United Way, and
Goals for Coordinated Transportation
goals guide transportation decisions; setting specific goals is thus a
crucial step in the coordination process. Coordination can support the
following kinds of goals:
more with limited resources; this includes reducing the costs of
providing trips and increasing the trips per hour of transportation services.
mobility within the local community and among communities.
new revenues for transportation services.
the quality of life.
How Coordination Works
The goals of
coordinated transportation systems are to increase the numbers of people
served and the numbers of rides provided. Coordination achieves these goals
through better resource management.
To achieve greater efficiencies, the community needs to focus on reducing
duplication and fragmentation in operating, administering, planning, and
funding transportation services. Useful strategies include:
operating and administrative salaries.
capital costs on vehicles and other equipment.
other operating costs, such as maintenance and insurance.
more productive transportation services, the community should focus on
improving the accessibility, affordability, and availability of
transportation services. Useful strategies include:
days and hours of service.
the kinds of persons and trip purposes served.
the accessibility of vehicles in the fleet for persons with special
passenger assistance and customer service training for drivers and
public information concerning services.
funding to help pay the costs of specific trips.
benefits that are achieved in a given community depend strongly on local
conditions, including the resources and activities of the transportation
providers and other key stakeholders, as well as local political
considerations. Nevertheless, within the vast majority of rural communities,
the greatest benefits of coordination are
trip cost efficiencies for programs and providers,
transportation services have demonstrated benefit/cost ratios of greater than
three to one,meaning that personal transportation services are a good
investment for rural communities. The most coordinated and comprehensive
rural transportation systems generate substantial benefits for riders, the
local economy, and the entire community. Additional benefits are the wages
paid to transit employees, the costs of goods and services the transit system
purchases locally, and the effects of wages and system purchases in the local
Each rural community can make its own choices about how to apply coordination’s
benefits. If there are cost savings on a unit cost basis —that is, cost per
trip, per mile, or per hour—the savings from these greater efficiencies can
be used to serve more passengers. This is the approach used by the vast
majority of communities simply because more transportation service is needed
in most communities. Thus, transportation service can be expanded to
previously unserved portions of the community, to previously unserved
population groups, or to previously unserved hours and days. Other
communities have elected to offer the same level of transportation services
at a lower total expense.
and explain the pros and cons of coordination— don’t let potential partners
develop unrealistic expectations. Coordination efforts need both a champion
and a sparkplug for success. Coordination may initially be more expensive,
more difficult, and more time-consuming than most interested stakeholders
expect. Coordination may increase cost-effectiveness and reduce costs per
trip, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that any agency will be getting money
returned to them. Constant effort will be needed to ensure that all partners
continue to participate and coordinate over the years. While there are no
true prohibitions or barriers to coordination, there certainly are some
obstacles and challenges. Be prepared to address real issues concerning
funding, personal relationships, political support and power sharing, and a
lack of knowledge or misperceptions about coordination.