Paratransit is the term used to describe transportation services for the mobility-impaired, or those with disabilities who require specialized transit. Accessible, affordable, and safe public transportation is not available to all communities, which can make ‘getting around town’ an everyday challenge for those transitters who struggle to accomplish their day-to-day tasks, such as grocery shopping, making medical appointments, or going to work, using the more conventional modes of transportation.
The Challenges Currently Facing Paratransit Providers
In 1990, The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed which stipulates that transit agencies must operate complete paratransit services within ¾ miles of regular, fixed transit routes. However, according to the University of Massachusetts Transportation Center (UMTC), the main challenge facing paratransit is the high cost associated with running routes to serve those requiring mobility services. Additional challenges include accommodating the increase in demand for paratransit services, which increased 41% from 2000 to 2010 and is expected to increase as America’s population ages, as well as providing comprehensive transportation services while staying within tight budgetary constraints.
How Paratransit Software is Equalizing the Field
Emerging technology has helped to reconcile some of the challenges facing transit agencies. Paratransit software helps transit agencies to manage schedules and dispatch drivers using real-time, on demand software. Not only does the software provide the necessary capabilities to scale alongside market demands, but it also helps transit agencies, both large and small, to streamline internal operations and create a more effective and efficient transit operation.
Transportation managers and administrative staff can leverage:
- Web-based software that automates standard business processes.
- A real-time scheduling and dispatching tool that updates immediately following any changes.
- Fixed routes that help to improve communication with passengers and records any incidents that occur onboard.
- Forecasting features that allow agencies to better predict their slow times and peak hours.
- Reporting tools that summarize and present information in an easy-to-digest format.
Paratransit software from Ecolane has helped modern transit agencies achieve tangible results such as streamlined internal operations, improved productivity, and reduced costs. A customer, Shoreline Metro, implemented Ecolane software and benefited from:
- Reduced transit vehicle use by 25%. Less usage means Shoreline was able to save on wasted fuel and maintenance costs.
- Improved the number of hourly riders by 43%. Shoreline was able to help more residents get around town through better scheduling and dispatching.
- Reduce reporting times. What used to take 4 hours to compile reports, now takes only 30 minutes with Ecolane’s robust reporting tool.
- Reduced vehicle revenue hours by 27%. Trimming excess costs helps you to focus your business on where it’s needed the most.
Paratransit software helps bring communities together and provides an invaluable service to people with reduced mobility. With technology continually evolving, and with services being ironed out and implemented, paratransit may change significantly in the next few years.