February 2004

Atlantic Express is one of the largest providers of school bus, paratransit, commuter and charter services in the United States. Through our Atlantic Paratrans subsidiary, we have provided paratransit service for the Access-A-Ride program in New York City since the inception of the program in 1990.

Under our first contract with the NYC Department of Transportation, we began service with six lift-equipped paratransit vehicles. Our responsibilities included accepting and scheduling trip reservations; supplying, operating and maintaining vehicles; recruiting, hiring and training all personnel; and providing customer service support. As demand for paratransit service continues to increase under the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), our fleet has grown under a series of contracts with MTA New York City Transit, until we now provide about 500,000 trips annually.

Providing paratransit service presents many challenges, some of which are unique to this type of service. Although attracting sufficient qualified personnel is no easy task for any transportation provider, recruiting paratransit drivers can be especially difficult. Routes are prepared daily in response to customers' calls for service, so paratransit drivers must be familiar with their entire service area in addition to being of the proper temperament to provide assistance to frail, elderly and disabled passengers. The need of drivers to maintain their schedule under adverse traffic and weather conditions add to the difficulty.

Recruiting and retaining qualified maintenance personnel for paratransit operations is also a difficult task. Many vehicles, which are built on OEM cutaway chassis and then up fitted by custom builders, are used 20 hours every day and must be properly maintained and returned to service promptly. Equipped with wheelchair lifts and other specialized equipment, these vehicles are put through a heavy-duty use cycle, which requires efficient technicians that are well trained in state of the art diagnostic and repair techniques.

Under the leadership of Bill McVeigh, Atlantic Express Director of Maintenance, our paratransit maintenance staff has met the challenge of keeping our expanding fleet ready to roll. John Dozis, our Director of Paratransit Maintenance, has initiated a total quality management program to maximize vehicle uptime and reduce disruptions to service. Every paratransit vehicle is subject to a rigorous preventive maintenance schedule that exceeds industry standards. In addition, major vehicle components are regularly rebuilt to eliminate recurring defects.

These efforts continue to result in reduced mechanical failures and road calls that plague many other transportation providers in New York City. Through the use of ongoing training utilizing the latest equipment, John and his staff have continued to improve our excellent New York State Department of Transportation inspection results. As of this writing, not a single Atlantic Paratrans vehicle has failed a DOT inspection in this period.

In the skilled hands of Bill McVeigh, John Dozis and our paratransit maintenance, Atlantic Paratrans is well positioned to continue its expanding leadership role in providing quality paratransit service to customers of the New York City Transit Access-A-Ride program.

 


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