The national average cost for a paratransit trip is 3.6 times more than the average cost of a fixed-route trip, yet the Americans with Disabilities Act does not mandate funding for this costly service. This is a huge problem; the cost of paratransit can severely impact an agency’s ability to operate within budget.
How can agencies cut the cost of providing quality paratransit? A report published by the Rudin Center for Transportation at NYU recommends several ways to reduce costs while improving service.
One cost-cutting recommendation from the Rudin report is to modernize reservations and fare payment systems with self-booking technology for paratransit riders. Not only does this cut administrative costs by reducing call-center traffic, it also improves customer service because riders can book and pay for trips online anytime.
The Rudin report also recommends giving real-time information to riders so that they can monitor their vehicle’s real-time location and estimated arrival. When riders know when their vehicle will arrive, they are more likely to be waiting at their pick-up location at the right time. This decreases the amount of time riders are waiting outdoors and improves your driver’s on-time performance.
Another recommendation is to modernize by partnering with ride-hailing services. Transportation network companies (TNCs) like Lyft are dependable, affordable, and offer flexible options. TNCs can accommodate same-day bookings and offer ride-matching to pair-up riders and destinations.
Since the majority of paratransit users don’t use wheelchairs, wheelchair accessible vehicles are not always necessary. The Rudin report recommends agencies pay attention to the size and type of vehicle assigned to each trip. For example, many ambulatory riders could be transported in a sedan at a lower cost than using a wheelchair van.
Keeping in mind that a single paratransit trip costs 3.6 times more than a fixed route trip; offering bus passes to ambulatory riders (who live near fixed route services) is another way to cut paratransit costs. Additionally, agencies can use larger vehicles and combine trips for riders going to nearby destinations. This can easily be done using automated paratransit scheduling software.
In order for transit agencies to succeed, they must combat the rising costs of paratransit services. For this reason, it is imperative that transit agencies modernize their processes and think outside the box. Luckily, with the technology available today, streamlining your organization and modernizing operations has never been easier.