Public transit agencies need to be looking for ways to make their services more inclusive and equitable. This includes providing services to citizens who have significant difficulty using public transportation. Typically for people with disabilities and seniors, paratransit is a transportation service tailored for individuals unable to utilize conventional public transit systems.

Paratransit is not only vital for providing services to individuals who have significant barriers to using public transportation, but it is also mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Per the act, there are three categories of eligibility. The first is for those who cannot navigate the transit system. The next is for those who require an accessible vehicle. The last is for those who are unable to reach a transit stop.

Among other requirements, the ADA also stipulates how much agencies can charge for paratransit services. According to the ADA, fares charged for paratransit services cannot exceed twice the fare of a comparable fixed-route service it compliments. Within that stipulation, however, there are a wide range of fare structures employed by agencies across the country.

Understanding Paratransit Rates

Paratransit fare rates are determined by individual transit authorities. This means that fares can vary significantly based on the location, the type of service provided, and the operational cost associated with providing specialized services. Despite this variation, it can be useful to look at different established models to see how fares could be structured.

Flat Rate Paratransit Model

Charging a flat fee is one option for for paratransit services. For example, your agency could charge $5.00 for each one-way trip for both ADA and Non-ADA paratransit services. You could even consider offer bulk discount by offering an ADA monthly pass for a discounted rate.

Variable Rate Paratransit Model

More complex, the variable rate model offers a fare structure based on the distance traveled. Depending on the distance traveled, your fares would either increase or decrease.You could even consider breaking up the varied fares based on zones.

Paying for Paratransit

Paratransit services can be expensive, requiring agencies to invest in specialized vehicles and equipment. Given this expense, offering the service might seem cost-prohibitive, both for agencies and for riders. There are, however, ways to offset this cost.

Lowering Paratransit Cost with Technology

Modern technologies can help transit agencies deliver more cost-effective paratransit services. For instance, Ecolane’s demand-responsive technology makes scheduling and dispatching easier and more efficient. It helps identify the best schedules and deploy your paratransit resources intelligently and effectively.

With Ecolane, you can optimize and respond in real time to changes. We also help you automate provider management, funding source compliance, and trip assignments. Our technology helps your agency confidently provide on-time performance guarantees to customers while lowering the cost of paratransit services.

Government Funding for Paratransit

Government subsidies for paratransit are primarily aimed at enhancing mobility for seniors and individuals with disabilities, ensuring they have access to necessary transportation services. One key program is the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Section 5310 - Enhanced Mobility of Seniors & Individuals with Disabilities.

This program provides formula funding to states and designated recipients to meet the transportation needs of disadvantaged groups when traditional services are unavailable, insufficient, or inappropriate. The funding is apportioned based on the population of older adults and people with disabilities in each state and can be used for both "traditional" capital projects like buses and vans, and "nontraditional" projects such as travel training, volunteer driver programs, and mobility management programs​.

Ecolane Expands Your Transit Options

Transit software has the power to keep your operation moving—and help your customers get where they need to go. But with a sea of options available, you need to pick the right one. Look for features to support reporting, scheduling, implementation, and fleet management to ensure you get the most out of your transit software solution.

See how Ecolane can help. Request a demo of our paratransit software and strengthen your operation.

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