Describing Quality in Dial-a-Ride Services
G Ozen, University of Greenwich, UK
Quality Factors/Measured Variables for Dial-a-Ride/Door-to-door transport services, using Q-sort technique, with a definition of quality in this field, and an outline of the limitations of the approach, including the role of Extraneous Variables.
Towards a set of Quality Factors and Variables for Dial-a-Ride/Door-to-door services for disabled and older people
This paper is submitted under the Conference heading of ?Transport appraisal and benefits realisation?. It is offered to the Programme Committee for ?Innovative Methods in Transport Analysis, Planning and Appraisal?.
It will draw on research undertaken for an MA dissertation in Transport and Logistics Management at the University of Greenwich.
Public transport appraisal must, it is generally agreed, incorporate measures of customer satisfaction into any assessment. There is an extensive literature devoted to the subject, and Passenger Transport Executives such as Transport for London and Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive regularly carry out surveys of passengers to measure this. However, the theoretical underpinning of such surveys (what is measured and why it is measured) is not always consistent. This becomes even more problematic when looking at the field of Door-to-Door transport.
Dial-a-Ride is a Door-to-Door service for people unable to use public transport, who are mainly disabled and older people. It exists in many forms in many countries, but its main characteristic is that it is an on-demand service collecting people from their homes and taking them to immediately outside where they wish to go.
There has been some work on Quality and Quality Factors and Variables in Dial-a-Rides around the world, but there is no general agreement on what Quality is, what Factors describe it, and what Variables can be used to measure it. There has been no testing for reliability described of those Factors and Variables. No research has been published in the UK on the subject that this researcher has been able to identify.
This research offered a unique approach to Quality in Dial-a-Ride services, by going back to basic principles and trying to determine the Quality Factors and Measured Variables which might be applicable to Dial-a-Ride and Door-to-Door services. Using Q-sort Technique and working with a number of older and disabled people, the researcher identified five quality factors and 60+ measured variables which are considered valid measures of Quality.
However, the research has also discovered significant disagreements based on a number of possible Extraneous Variables related to factors such as age, nature of disability and education level; there were also differences in transport user/transport provider perspectives. This could have a significant impact on the accuracy and validity of universal measures of customer satisfaction.
The paper has therefore prepared the ground for further exploration of the importance of different Quality Factors and Variables to different groups of Dial-a-Ride customers, and also for incorporating these weighted Factors and Variables into a consistent Quality Management approach to customer satisfaction and service improvement. In doing this, it makes a contribution to accurate appraisal of a particular kind of transport performance, which may also have implications for mainstream public transport.
Association for European Transport