“If a car depreciation is a thousand dollars a month, they would be paying us $300 a month for that which they’re using for their services. We get part of the cost depreciation paid for by the company and we don’t pay any overhead.”
When the Long Beach taxi company went bankrupt in the 70s, Jackson said a guy by the name of Mitchell Rouse stepped in and took over LBT’s cutaway operation. He also explains that Rouse was a part of ATE and started up the first, nationwide paratransit and taxi operation. “They started in LA and then when the economies went bad, ATE, now First Transit, took the paratransit side, he took all the taxi operations and grew those but then they got into the paratransit business. That was the origin of the company because Mitch said there’s got to be a better way to do this.
“I can’t tell you how many agencies in the last two or three years are calling me up and saying, ‘We’retalking to this American Logistics Company.’ That’s owned by the same person [Mitchell Rouse] that owns Long Beach Yellow,” Jackson says.
This partnership served as the initial transformation from a legacy model for the coordinated model that, because it was successful, was one of the reasons American Logicstics was founded. One of the companies that coordinates with ALC in Long Beach is Taxi Systems. Stewart Crust, who was the project manager with Taxi Systems’ implementation of the program with LBT, explains it’s a sensitive issue any time you’re changing service for the paratransit customer.
The disabled resources director at the time, who also was somewhat of a spokesperson for the disabled community of Long Beach, was “fit to be tied,” Crust says. “Her reaction was how could you possibly take this, what was traditional paratransit service, and throw it out to the cab company?”
But after transitioning to the coordinated model, if you are looking for one of the biggest advocates of what the upsides and maybe downsides are, it’s been an overwhelming success for the city of Long Beach.
“For the community of Long Beach it was a windfall, even though you wouldn’t hear about it,” Crust explains. “All of a sudden you have — over a period of two or three years for the transition — vehicles from traditional cutaways to the low-floor accessible minivans that they run today. Now they have accessible vehicles in the community.
“The real deal here is when you talk about coordination, this funding is being spread over two or three different agencies in terms of cost of the vehicles.” He adds, “If you look at it from that picture, it’s a pretty impressive model.”
As for the agencies that don’t want to let go of the control, Jackson thinks it’s bureaucratic control and them wanting to have their own littleempires. “If I’m the administrator of the service and I’ve got 20 vehicles and 50 operators, they’re my people and I can control it and I can deal with that.” With the public-private partnership model, “It’s not their own business, they aren’t paying for it, but I see great resistance on the part of the managers within a transit system who don’t want to give up that control. They want it to be their own operators,” Jackson says.
“The dynamics are pretty amazing, but in the end, the systems that have gone to what we have is great success and a lot of them have not gone 100 percent to that model.” Jackson explains, “They’ve gone and they’ve done all of the tough trips. They’ll take the late-night trips, all of the trips that are very hard to do and so they minimize how many cutaway vans and how many shifts they have to operate.”
Long Beach has had a huge CNG commitment for a long time. “There are huge gas deposits here,” Jackson says, “and the city of Long Beach started its own gas department.
“So we have our own gas that is natural gas that the city does and probably in the 80s they started converting the trash trucks and some city vehicles, to CNG.”
Not far from LBT is a city CNG fueling station, which LBT will use from time to time. However, LBT is currently building its own CNG fueling station in North Long Beach.