NJ Transit Access Link is in good hands
By Paul O’Brien
Operated under contract by First Transit, NJ Transit’s Access Link program offers transportation options for customers who need specialized assistance under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), with 375 vehicles providing curb-to-curb service within three-fourths of a mile of NJ Transit fixed-route service.
First Transit began its partnership with NJ Transit in 1996 and currently provides transportation across five operating regions, utilizing seven facilities — spanning 18 of 21 counties in the state of New Jersey. Access Link allows passengers to transfer within the system to continue their journey. In fact, an Access Link Paratransit customer is able to travel across the state — and even into Philadelphia — without changing systems.
With nearly one million trips annually, spanning approximately 10.7 million miles, accurate service control and precision coordination of each schedule are essential to providing safe, reliable transportation. Each of the five regions provides paratransit service nearly around-the-clock. In fact, Region 3 — Atlantic City — operates its service 24 hours a day.
When a customer calls to schedule a trip, the Access Link’s operations center makes the initial reservation. From there, the First Transit scheduling staff will coordinate resources and employees to ensure the trip is on-time and properly routed.
Access Link’s operations center employs service monitors who are specifically trained to meet customer needs by asking the right questions and ensuring they receive the best service possible. First Transit service controllers are responsible for constant communication with the service monitor staff throughout the day, updating them on schedule changes, traffic delays, safety concerns and on-the-road incidents. Together, we work to provide seamless, consistent, worry-free service for customers. Our motto, One Team, One Service, is a mantra we live by everyday.
It is critical that all departments work together to ensure continuity of service. However, our drivers and dispatchers are the faces and voices of our business every day and their consistency of service is essential.
Proper training is key at First Transit. In fact, all drivers undergo nearly 120 hours of classroom and behind-the-wheel training prior to transporting any passengers.
Safety and maintenance teams work hard to support our frontline staff. The
NJ Transit staff performs random vehicle inspections twice per year. To supplement these inspections, First Transit employs a district maintenance manager to conduct monthly vehicle and facility inspections. This two-tiered system creates not only accountability but allows our maintenance staff to learn from best practices.
In keeping with our commitment to service productivity, we recently developed InfoManager software, which provides a robust platform of reports and information, increasing efficiency and productivity for the location. In-house software engineers developed this new technology initially rolled out at a sister First Transit facility. We look forward to evaluating the information generated and working to roll it out to all of our Access Link regions.
The rollout of InfoManager is to complement and support Access Link’s successful productivity incentive program. The goal of this program is to increase productivity and ensure on-time performance. The result has been significant savings to NJ Transit while maintaining 95 percent to 97 percent on-time performance statewide.
We take great pride in having a solid working relationship with our client, which is essential to ensuring high satisfaction for our customers. By working together to achieve our goal of One Team, One Service, we have saved the client money while maintaining a high quality of service for more than 15 years.
From his base in Sayreville, NJ, Paul O’Brien serves as First Transit District Manager for seven paratransit and fixed-route contracts comprising nine facilities in New Jersey. His region serves as the sole provider of ADA paratransit to NJ Transit.