Applicability to my problem?

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    I’m hoping this forum can give me some insights into whether or not six sigma will work in my situation….I know NOTHING about it.
    I am a transportation planning consultant, specializing in assisting public transit systems in implementing Americans with Disabilities Act regs. I’ve just been appointed by a judge to oversee a conflict in a large eastern U.S. city between the transit system providing paratransit trips for persons with disabilities and an advocacy group that contends that the transit system is not meeting the requirements of the law.
    Specifically, the regs require the transit system to provide door-to-door service for pre-qualified disabled persons. Service must be available within 24 hours of a reservation request, and the service has to be on-time. A lawsuit was filed claiming that the service is chronically late. Various remedies have been tried to solve the problem…onboard scanners, mobile data terminals, etc., with no success.
    About 2 million paratransit trips are taken annually. My directive is to recommend a solution to verifying the accuracy of ontime trips made by the transit system. This solution and be any combination of existing or recommended technologies, or statistical remedies. This later option is the basis of my question to you. Do you think there is a way to devise a six sigma program to gather accurate data and perhaps make recommendations for improved ontime proficiency?
    If so, I’ll need a ballpark idea of how much it would cost to develop and implement and a timeline. I realize that with so few details, this is truly a ballpark estimate, but I have no frame of reference for the process and I need to report to the judge soon on the possibilities.
    Any insights would be GREATLY appreciated.



    Hi Michael,
    Wow, you really have a problem here. I find it humorous that the Judge wants an answer to the problem so quickly after assigning it to you. How can you verify that you’ve collected the right data and that the measurement system is accurate?
    In short, six sigma can help you solve this problem. You’ve already take the first step: identifying the defect, which is late pickups. You can define it further (e.g. late by 1 second, 60 seconds, to what measurement clock, etc.). From what I read of your description, there is a lot of heresay and perception that is clouding the facts. You need to get into the data to determine the root causes and determine a solution. I doubt that your data is good enough at this point in time, because the data collection plans of the past were probably not rigorous (my guess).
    No one on this forum is going to be able to solve your problem for you. No one on this forum is going to be able to walk you through the six sigma problem solving process because it’s beyond the scope of a discussion forum like this. We will be able to comment on your questions posted to us.
    I suggest you either sign up for a 4 week six sigma training program to solve the problem yourself, or hire a consultant to act as the black belt to solve the problem. Either way, you’re going to need to form a team because no one person in your organization has all the data to solve the problem.
    You don’t have an easy question, and there’s no easy answer to it. Good luck.
    Feel free to post additional information if you want an opinion. There seems to be no dearth of opinions on this site! :)



    Short answer is yes.  Long answer (including $ estimate, etc) would require more in depth discussion.  There are quite a few consultants who post to this site – I suspect you’ll get a lot of offers of help.  I am an MBB, not a consultant, but from what you describe I think there a reasonably good fit.  You could also go to the “Consultants” section of iSix Sigma and try to find one in your area.  Good luck – sounds like an interesting problem.

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