The Rider Choice Program has gone by many names, but they all refer to a program that sits inside or adjacent to a paratransit program. They provide a demand responsive capability for people in the community who are usually seniors or people with disabilities. Typically, the passenger can call a day in advance or the day of service. This service is normally paid for with cash or some kind of token or voucher and utilizes taxi cabs, although transport network companies (TNCs) like Uber are being utilized more and more.

This is an essential service, but there are some significant challenges that currently face these programs. Here are some of the challenges facing rider choice programs.

  • Driver Shortages - During the pandemic, transportation services significantly declined, and many drivers either quit or were laid off. This labor market has yet to rebound, and the lack of drivers results in limited vehicle capacity. Fewer vehicles means spreading resources thin, which negatively impacts on-time performance.
  • Increased Fraud - It is often difficult to control fraud, especially when tickets, tokens, or vouchers are being used instead of cash. Sometimes, there might even be collusion between the driver and the rider. The lack of program governance has led to a number of programs that have high amounts of waste and fraud.
  • Customer Complaints - Driver shortages, fewer vehicles, and poor on-time performance all lead to a negative rider experience. Customers are also becoming frustrated with the lack of modern fare collection options like credit card or mobile options.
  • No ADA Features - Since many of the riders utilizing these programs have some sort of disability, it is important for the vehicles to be compliant with ADA standards. The lack of ADA certifications and standards has an overall negative impact on rider experience.
  • Lack of Equity - Making sure these programs service all the people who need it is another challenge for rider choice programs. Sometimes, this is due to expansive geographies and the difficulty of serving transportation deserts. Other times, it might be due to a lack of support for unbanked citizens.

In this webinar, we look at these challenges and how to overcome them. We also look at how Ecolane can help increase rider satisfaction.