Use Cases

An In-Depth Analysis of On-Demand Transit Use Cases: Paratransit

Jess Blenkarn
December 17, 2021
 - 
4 min read

More than one billion people around the world experience living with a disability, oftentimes relying on paratransit services for their daily mobility needs. In the United States alone, 223 million paratransit trips are taken each year and as the number of people with chronic conditions increases and the world’s population ages, the demand for accessible, reliable, and efficient paratransit will only continue to grow.

Most paratransit services are run out of call centers, requiring passengers to book their rides at least 24 hours in advance, which with increasing demand, can overwhelm dispatchers. Sometimes paratransit service coverage is limited, creating inequitable mobility barriers. On-demand paratransit can alleviate these challenges and remove barriers for persons with disabilities and mobility issues so that every rider has access to the benefits of public transportation.

Understanding the Paratransit Use Case

In this use case, persons with disabilities and mobility issues, the elderly, and their caregivers are provided reliable door-to-door service that picks them up at their origin point, such as their homes, and takes them directly to their final destinations, such the grocery store.

The paratransit service can be operated within a defined zone using a fleet of specialized vehicles, or it can be commingled with microtransit vehicles that are ADA compliant in a larger zone to maximize fleet efficiency.

Agencies that partner with RideCo are provided with both a branded app and web portal for those who do not have access to a smartphone. Paratransit passengers are able to book through the call center as well, ensuring accessible trip booking while still modernizing agency operations and increasing efficiency.

On-Demand Transit Empowers Paratransit Passengers

With on-demand transit’s booking flexibility, passengers are empowered to book their trip on-demand or in advance based on their own schedules, rather than the time slots the service has available on a particular day. Passengers also experience end-to-end reliability, from complete transparency in trip details within the app, such as driver information and real-time vehicle tracking, to guaranteed on-time drop offs.

In-app booking and scheduling also reduces agency reliance on dispatchers, which is particularly important during the ongoing staffing shortage across the industry. By replacing its legacy dial-a-ride software with an automated on-demand system, Houston METRO reduced call center bookings by 66%, while increasing overall ridership by more than 15%.

With RideCo’s Capacity Configuration Optimizer, paratransit can be commingled with an existing microtransit service. This feature enables agencies to combine passengers within a single fleet to both accommodate every passenger type and increase their passengers per vehicle revenue hour.

As ambulatory and paratransit trips are booked in real time, all possible seat configurations within a fleet are autonomously and dynamically rearranged to serve as many riders as possible in the most efficient way. Since each agency’s ridership is unique, for example, some agencies have more paratransit passengers with wheelchairs or scooters, RideCo’s dedicated team will work with the agency to prioritize certain capacity configurations. Those combinations are configured first during route re-optimization to ensure the agency’s ridership is accommodated and no ride requests are denied.

How Modern Paratransit is Making an Impact on North American Cities

Increasingly, agencies across North America are replacing their existing paratransit services with RideCo’s on-demand transit software. This includes Las Vegas, Nevada; Antelope Valley, California; Loudoun County, Virginia; Cobourg, Ontario; and Porter County, Indiana.

Our industry-leading software and dedicated operations support allowed Guelph Transit to improve the efficiency of their existing paratransit service which previously required manual booking and scheduling and was limited to inflexible, fixed vehicle routing and itineraries. The on-demand paratransit service achieved impressive results, including:

· A 45% reduction in call center volume

· 36% of rides booked within the RideCo app

· A 6-minute average wait time

· A 4.7/5 average star trip rating

Prior to implementing RideCo’s on-demand paratransit service, Houston METRO relied solely on their call center to manually book and schedule trips. RideCo modernized their legacy dial-a-ride software, implementing an on-demand service that achieved:

· A 66% reduction in call center bookings

· A 20% reduction in cost per passenger

· A 98% on-time performance record

· A 4.8/5 average star trip rating


As the demand for paratransit services continues to increase, agencies have an opportunity to provide more equitable and accessible public transportation for their customers. In partnering with RideCo, passengers will be empowered through booking flexibility and end-to-end reliable paratransit service. As mobility barriers are removed, agencies will see that adapting their services to meet the needs of their ridership will simultaneously improve the efficiency and productivity of their services.

To learn more about how RideCo’s on-demand software can provide an equitable, accessible, and efficient paratransit solution for your agency, contact us!

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