Synthesis of Information Related to Transit Practices. Topic SB-42. Operational and Service Factors When Integrating/Consolidating ADA Paratransit and On-Demand Services

Can on-demand services successfully accommodate Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and human service paratransit rides while achieving productivity and service quality performance targets? On-demand services offers another premium option for ADA riders beyond the DOT requirements. Many ADA services divert rides that don’t fit into vehicle itineraries to taxis and on-demand services and allow riders, at a higher fare, to book their rides same-day with participating on-demand providers. On-demand services are becoming prominent across the United States. Several transit agencies are exploring the potential of integrating/consolidating ADA paratransit rides and sometimes human service rides with on-demand services. They are motivated by potential cost and service efficiencies derived from that integration, as well as the potential for better performance outcomes for riders (e.g., on-time performance, on-demand reservation options, service to a wider swath of the population, etc.). Different passenger groups have been commingled in the same demand response vehicles prior to the arrival of transportation network companies (TNCs) and On-demand services technologies. However, commingling on-demand services is still relatively new. The quantitative and qualitative results of using on-demand services to accommodate ADA clients are as yet unknown. Several factors from an operations perspective are relevant to commingling ADA paratransit and on-demand services. Typical on-demand service designs will group trips to calculate the most efficient routing in real time, as new trips are requested and paired with vehicles, whereas typically ADA paratransit rides are reserved and scheduled in advance. Some on-demand services also require customers to walk from their current location to meet the vehicle at a nearby point. Most ADA customers require curb-to-curb or door-to-door service, making on-demand services difficult or impossible for some individuals to ride. Dwell times will differ for ADA versus general public/other trips as people with disabilities tend to take longer to board and alight and require assistance while doing so. Some ADA riders are clients of human service agencies and tend to ride with fellow clients to/from congregate sites such as senior centers in established groups, whereas on-demand services may not accommodate group bookings. The on-demand services database would have to include data for ADA customers regarding emergency contacts, whether a personal care attendant or companion will ride with the person, and whether extra notification time is required of the vehicle arrival as compared to general public riders. On-demand services can educate ADA clients with travel training and customer education efforts, but on-demand service designs must be nimble enough to help customers who need additional assistance to use the service. Some ADA riders can transfer at transit hubs, while others need a one-seat ride. For those who can’t transfer, on-demand services would suffice only if the destination is within the on-demand services service zone. While some on-demand service systems only serve one destination (usually a transit hub) and shorter distances, ADA customers also need to travel to/from grocery stores; pharmacies; medical centers; government offices; senior centers; adult day health centers; dialysis treatment sites; and other destinations. As over a fifth of ADA rides are taken by wheelchair/scooter users, the on-demand services system may require a higher proportion of wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) to avoid discriminatory wait times. Some on-demand services operations are provided under contract without uniformly wheelchair-accessible fleets. Compliance with ADA complementary paratransit requirements may come into question for these service integrations; for example, on-demand service areas may differ from the minimum three-quarters of a mile around a fixed route that ADA paratransit serves. Finally, on-demand services offers booking when the ride is needed via smartphone, though services usually have a call-center backup for the rider, as some customers need that call-in option. However, some ADA riders rely on regularly scheduled standing order rides, which entail advanced reservations that on-demand services normally doesn’t accommodate. Several on-demand service operations and technology platforms efficiently integrate general public, ADA, and/or human service riders—especially Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) riders. Shared resources including vehicles; cross-trained dispatchers; drivers; and schedulers are deployed to provide all these rides. This strategy has reduced the cost per ride. The Golden Empire Transit District in Bakersfield, CA; StarTrans in Lincoln, NE; and Citibus in Lubbock, TX are three examples of transit agencies that are commingling riders with On-demand services technology platforms. Other On-demand services sites share resources without having ADA, general public, and NEMT riders on the same vehicle simultaneously. The objective of this synthesis is to document the types of integrations/consolidations of ADA paratransit with on-demand services, including those offered to the general public, and its associated outcomes in a variety of geographic settings (including ex-urban and rural communities).


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  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $55000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project J-07, Topic SB-42

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Transit Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001

    Federal Transit Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Garcia-Colberg, Mariela

  • Performing Organizations:

    ,   Germany 

    Texas A&M Transportation Institute

    Texas A&M University System
    3135 TAMU
    College Station, TX  United States  77843-3135
  • Principal Investigators:

    Hansen, Todd

  • Start Date: 20231110
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01884617
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project J-07, Topic SB-42
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: Jun 5 2023 4:36PM