J E. Burkhardt

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - coordination, economics - benefits, mode - mass transit, mode - paratransit


Transit operating agencies, Transit lines, Transit, Social service agencies, Public transit lines, Public transit, Paratransit services, Mass transit lines, Mass transit, Local transit, Human service transportation, Human service agencies, Economic benefits, Dial a ride, Coordination


In many communities, multiple public and private agencies and organizations provide transportation services to people who have special transportation needs. These providers often receive funding from many sources, including federal, state, and local government programs as well as charitable and nonprofit programs. Program-specific funds are often accompanied by service objectives for specific clienteles and by unique rules and requirements. If such transportation services operate separately, independently, and in an uncoordinated fashion, they frequently demonstrate serious economic and service problems. Coordination can address such problems. Coordination strives to maximize the efficient use of resources such as vehicles, personnel, and funding. It attempts to reduce service duplication, increase vehicle sharing, and improve service quality. It can lower the cost of providing transportation, and communities can apply the cost savings to increase service or simply reduce costs. New research has found that significant economic benefits--including increased funding, decreased costs, and increased productivity--can be obtained by coordinating human service agency transportation and transit services. Implementing successful coordination programs could generate combined economic impacts (after considering all costs) of about $700 million per year to transportation providers (human service agencies and transit agencies) in the United States. Total benefits (beyond those benefits accruing just to transportation providers) are even greater. Particularly successful coordination strategies include transit agencies providing trips for Medicaid clients, nontransit agencies providing Americans with Disabilities Act and other paratransit services, transportation providers shifting paratransit riders to fixed-route service, local human service agencies coordinating their trips, and communities expanding transit services into unserved areas.