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Paratransit Services for People with Disabilities: Yes You Can Reduce Their Costs

As a chief executive officer of a transit authority, you know how challenging it is to provide a reliable public transit system to all riders. And how expensive it is to set up paratransit services for people with disabilities.

But you can reduce their costs while maintaining a quality service for all users. How exactly? With an innovative app that can guide people with disabilities within your public transit network. 

Technology, combined with accessible physical equipment, can have a significant change for the everyday lives of people with disabilities. A change towards inclusive mobility. 

After all, paratransit services have only been set up to let public transit systems have time to be more accessible. And it seems this time has come.

Buckle up to find out what the future of transportation has in stock for you. You’ll see this future isn’t that far away…

What solution can be more cost-effective than paratransit services?

Let’s take a look at innovative technologies, more specifically an indoor navigation app conceived for people with disabilities: Evelity.

A single app that can help riders with disabilities navigate your public transit system with autonomy:

Evelity is designed to suit every type of profile:

     ⊗ A blind or visually impaired user has audio instructions thanks to VoiceOver and TalkBack.

     ⊗ A deaf or hard of hearing user has text instructions.

     ⊗ A person with reduced mobility like a wheelchair user benefits from optimized and step-free routes.

     ⊗ A person with intellectual disabilities has simplified interfaces.

⊗ It provides riders with disabilities with more autonomy: they just have to use their smartphone to be guided within your public transit network. 84% of them use a smartphone on a daily basis.

⊗ They can also have more spontaneity. Something they don’t have with paratransit services as they need to book their trip at least 48h in advance. With an app, no more on-demand transportation, they can rely on public transport just like everyone else.

But why is it worth it for you?

⊗ More riders with disabilities who use your subway or your bus means less paratransit services to handle. Consequently, your costs related to these services are reduced by simply making Evelity accessible to your users.

⊗ Less carbon emissions: more people using public transportation means less paratransit vehicles on the roads. Definitely good for the environment. 

⊗ You have a positive impact on people’s lives: thanks to a more accessible public transit, people with disabilities are offered the same choices as other riders. They can choose to go to work by bus or by subway. They can get around with more freedom.

⊗ You can foster inclusion: you give your public transit system a universal sense. All are welcome, regardless of their capabilities. 

⊗ You can improve an existing service and not just for riders with disabilities. It’s not just them that can use Evelity. But also the elderly who may feel anxious in a complex environment, tourists who don’t speak the language, people who have never used your subway before…

Evelity is currently being tested at the JaySt-MetroTech subway station in New York City. The MTA is committed to providing an accessible and inclusive subway network. It has perfectly understood that improving the mobility of people with disabilities within their subway is key to enhancing their experience and quality of life.

But the navigation app is fully deployed on the entire subway network of Marseilles, France. It has become the first subway system to bet on this innovative solution. A technology that focuses on users to better meet their needs. 

What should you implement for Evelity to improve the accessibility of your public transit network?

Have you heard of the term “phygital”? The words “physical” and “digital” are blended to combine both worlds.

Phygital can be seen as a bridge connecting technology and physical equipment. The goal is to provide users with a unique and interactive experience. 

As you must have guessed, Evelity represents the digital world. An app that guides riders with disabilities. But for this app to be used, your subway stations or bus stops need to be accessible in the first place.

That’s where accessible physical equipment takes place. People with disabilities need to rely on access ramps, guide paths, audio beacons to locate the subway entrance…

Physical accessibility completes technology. Phygital provides the best of both worlds. That’s how your public transit network can be accessible. Because if it’s more accessible then people with disabilities won’t need to use paratransit services. And eventually, the costs related to them will be reduced.  

How much do paratransit services cost?

According to the National Transit Database (NTD), transit operators spend 5$ on a fixed route bus trip. For paratransit services, its cost goes from $60 to $90. 

Over the years, the costs of paratransit services have kept increasing due to the growing of the aging population. 

Indeed, the average cost per paratransit trip increased by 20% between 2015 and 2018. This represents tens of millions for transit authorities which means a huge portion of their budget is dedicated to guarantee users paratransit services. 

But the problem is that this money isn’t committed to address accessibility issues in public transportation. It’s there to maintain a service that has been created to be temporary.

Why are paratransit services so costly?

The day-to-day operations of paratransit services are extremely expensive for transit authorities: gas for vehicles, the vehicles themselves and their servicing, the wages of the drivers…

⊗ Paratransit services focus on individuals instead of groups of people. They can’t group trips efficiently otherwise people with disabilities would have to wait too long and miss their appointments.

⊗ Depending on the area to cover, a single trip can be expensive as it’s difficult to carry many passengers in a vehicle.

⊗ People with serious disabilities may need to take longer to board and deboard. This affects productivity for a vehicle of paratransit services.

Why does your public transit network need such a service in the first place?

When enacted, the ADA also specifically focused on public transportation. By this, we mean that public transportation has to provide people with disabilities with an accessible network to easily get around: a seamless mobility chain.

Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, the same holds true for making public transit accessible for riders with disabilities. After all, we know it’s not easy for a subway to be accessible. The refurbishments necessary for a very old system with sprawling stations can be enormous.

That’s why the ADA has set up requirements for paratransit services: they take place within ¾ mile of all fixed routes of public transit for people who cannot use the public bus system or for those who cannot get to a point where they could access it. 

But the ultimate goal is to have a fully accessible public transit system for the aging population and the 61 million people with disabilities in the United States to navigate in their city. This is even more striking when we think about the 45% of Americans who have no access to public transportation. 

That’s why a navigation app like Evelity, combined with accessible equipment, can be helpful. Thanks to this app, your public transit system is more accessible and inclusive to all. 

People with disabilities are ready to use technology to improve their mobility. You can make this a reality by implementing an indoor navigation app suited to meet their profiles. Paratransit services can be significantly reduced. And the same applies to their costs. Now the question is are you ready for more inclusive mobility?

Want to know more about accessible public transportation? Check out these articles:

MBTA: a Global Model of Accessible Public Transportation

The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal Accessibility

How Can Multimodal Transit Centers Be Accessible for People with Disabilities?

Published on October 21st, 2022

Man in a wheelchair: © Unsplash

JaySt-MetroTech subway station: © Okeenea

media

The entrance of the JaySt-MetroTech subway station in New York City with turnstiles

But the ultimate goal is to have a fully accessible public transit system for the aging population and the 61 million people with disabilities in the United States to navigate in their city. This is even more striking when we think about the 45% of Americans who have no access to public transportation.

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Carole Martinez

Carole Martinez

Content Manager & Copywriter

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