Choosing a Platform That Can Adapt to Your Agency’s Unique Requirements

As the world’s population ages, it’s important to make sure that everyone has access to transportation that gets them where they need to go. Whether that’s a ride home after a long day or a trip to see the doctor, transit agencies must be prepared to serve a wide range of riders with diverse needs. Many transit agencies offer a portfolio of services from on-demand microtransit to non-emergency medical transit (NEMT) and what is commonly called paratransit in North America. Paratransit is demand-responsive transportation that is a supplement to fixed route bus and rail systems for people who cannot use them because of disability or advanced age. It can be operated by public transit agencies, not-for-profit organizations and for-profit private companies.

While ADA paratransit is generally regulated by the federal government, it’s important to remember that this is a civil rights issue and not just a service for people with disabilities. Using a person-centered approach to eligibility determination, it is possible to serve more than just disabled and elderly passengers. Those with health conditions that limit mobility and those who are physically challenged should also be able to find access to transportation through innovative programs and partnerships.

When considering a new software platform to support your paratransit operation, it’s important to choose one that is built with flexibility and can adapt to your agency’s unique requirements. Stay away from off-the-shelf solutions that will require you to change the way you operate just so the software can function properly. You need a platform that will evolve with your company and help you meet key business objectives like on-time performance and cost savings.

For instance, a rider-first platform that automates booking and scheduling can help your agency save money by reducing overhead and eliminating reliance on manual processes. With this type of system, all trips are automatically matched to the available fleet of vehicles based on the individual riders’ specific needs. This means that only the right type of vehicle is dispatched to pick up the rider and take them to their destination.

A person-first system will also allow you to create a database of rider preferences, which will make it easier for your organization to identify and serve the most vulnerable members of your community. This information can then be used to inform and refine future decisions regarding a person’s ability to use your paratransit services.

For example, let’s say John has a health condition that limits his mobility. He can walk the distance from his home to the nearest bus stop, but when it’s very hot out, he tires more quickly and might not be able to get to the stop in time to catch the next bus. In this case, he would qualify for paratransit. By integrating on-demand paratransit, transit agencies can ensure that individuals with the most severe mobility limitations are never left behind. This is the best way to improve mobility for all of us.