A Day in the Life Series: Newfound Freedom for Demand Response Riders

A Day in the Life Series: Newfound Freedom for Demand Response Riders

The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this blog are fictitious.

Larry Smith is a retired widower who has lived in the town of Springfield for over twenty years. Previously, Larry drove a car for shopping and other activities, such as going to the library or meeting friends for coffee. He only occasionally used the bus if his vehicle was being serviced.

Now that he’s older, Larry’s eyesight isn’t as sharp as it used to be, and the arthritis in his right knee makes driving painful. When his doctor tells him it’s time to hang up his car keys for good and start using a cane, Larry worries about how he will get around town. He wants to remain active and not give up the lifestyle he enjoys.

Larry’s buddies rave to him about the town’s flexible on-demand transit service, but he recalls the fixed-route bus schedule never seemed to work for him, so demand response transit can’t be much different. He’s also concerned about getting on and off the bus with his bad knee.

After visiting the transit agency website a few times, Larry decides to finally try demand response the following week for his appointment with Doctor Hibbert. He returns to the agency’s portal and creates a rider profile making sure he adds his eligibility for paratransit trips. After a couple of attempts, he also adds funds to his account to pay for fares.

Next, Larry searches for a ride that will take him from home to Doctor Hibbert’s office for a 10:00 am appointment on Friday. He’s glad to see during the trip booking process that he can notify the agency he’s bringing his new cane. He hits search and voilà! There’s a trip available where he can be picked up at 9:30 am.

Larry books the trip and instantly receives an email confirmation. He’s not much of a mobile app user, so he doesn’t know how to put the agency app on his phone. His neighbor, Ned, showed him how to text a few months ago, so he sends Ned a text invite for coffee. Ned happens to be working at home that day and is happy to come over. He shows Larry how to download the agency’s mobile app and how to even book trips on his phone instead of the computer.

On Thursday, Larry receives a reminder notification about his trip to Doctor Hibbert’s office with an option to cancel. He puts his phone away, not giving the upcoming trip any further thought. But on Friday morning, Larry wakes up in a panic. Did he schedule the trip correctly? Will the driver arrive on time? He hates to be late to appointments. Should he call the agency and ask if his ride is still coming?

At 9:10 am, Larry is sitting down to put his shoes on when he receives a notification that his ride is on the way! In the app, a map displays the icon of a vehicle moving along the route to his house. Larry breathes a sigh of relief and feels much better.

Today, Larry’s driver is Marge and she helps him get into the low-floor minibus the agency uses for paratransit because his knee is giving him a hard time. There’s another rider named Homer who says he was also intimidated by booking paratransit for the first time. He suggests Larry make the trip to Doctor Hibbert’s office reoccurring if he always goes on the same day and time.

While waiting in the doctor’s office, Larry realizes he forgot he had a lunch date with Carl at 11:30 am. He opens the mobile app and searches for a ride from Doctor Hibbert’s office to Moe’s Tavern concerned that a last-minute on-demand trip will be costly. He’s in luck! There’s a trip available at 11:05 am and the fare is the same as his first trip.

After receiving his new booking confirmation, he wonders why he was so worried about taking demand response transit. It may have taken an older guy like him more time, but it was so easy to search last-minute for a trip to Moe’s, book, and pay with a few taps. He also feels less anxious about the pick-up knowing he will receive an alert from the app and can see how close the bus is to his location.

Since Larry finishes his appointment early, he selects the Ready Now feature in the app which sends an alert to the driver that he’s ready to go to Moe’s. He receives an updated trip confirmation and can track the minibus on a map while waiting for a good time to head to the door.

At home, Larry makes a list of all the places he wants to go with demand response transit and plays with his app to see how many trips are possible. He’s happy he can remain active and independent, stay connected to his friends and community, and take care of his health needs, all at an affordable price.

Taking flexible on-demand public transit makes it possible for Larry to live his best and fullest life, and he can’t wait to see where the bus will take him next!