Optimizing ADA Paratransit Operation with Taxis and Ride Share Programs

Funding Source: MassDOT

Title: Optimizing ADA Paratransit Operation with Taxis and Ride Share Programs

Date: 2019 Completed

Status: Completed

Summary: Rising ridership on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) paratransit services, such as MBTA’s The RIDE, pose a challenge due to the high costs of operating this required service. This report presents the findings of a study to analyze the operations and ridership of The RIDE’s van service and to optimize programs to serve paratransit trips with alternative service providers in order to minimize system cost. This study specifically looks at the operations and demand patterns before and after the implementation of the MBTA’s On-Demand Paratransit Pilot Program, which allows eligible customers to use Uber, Lyft, or Curb for a subsidized trip in addition to conventional ADA paratransit service from The RIDE. Pilot participants typically use about 40% of their monthly allocation, and many continue to use The RIDE services depending on their type of disability. It is estimated that if all eligible customers were included in the program, the effect on The RIDE service would be a reduction in ADA demand by 42%, but an increase in total travel by 33% due to induced demand for the TNC service. This would correspond to a 26% reduction in costs to the MBTA. Alternatively, a model is proposed to estimate the marginal cost of each requested trip and optimize allocation to The RIDE vans or an alternative provider. The potential effect on total operating costs is estimated to be 40–48% reduction.