C R. Denson

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - route design, planning - education, policy - disability, mode - mass transit, mode - paratransit


Transit, Training, Public transit, Physically handicapped persons, Personnel training, People with disabilities, Paratransit services, Modal shift, Mass transit, Local transit, Handicapped persons, Fixed routes, Education, Disabled persons, Disabled people, Dial a ride, Accessibility


By 2002, it is expected that all fixed-route transportation systems in the United States will be accessible to people with disabilities. This is heralded as good news for riders who have been limited to traveling via special services (i.e., paratransit) and transit providers concerned with the cost of such services. Such optimism assumes - perhaps erroneously - that many riders will shift from paratransit to the newly accessible fixed-route systems. A survey was conducted that reveals that riders are generally satisfied with the service they receive and - despite imminent accessibility - are not eager to switch. The paratransit service, which the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) regards as a "safety net" for those unable to use fixed-route transit, has become the primary mode of public transport for significant portions of its ridership. However, a core group of riders appears to be interested in changing, which, coupled with the finding that almost none of the survey respondents had received any form of travel training, suggests that there is cause for measured optimism. In addition to training, accessibility must be considered in systemic terms, built on the requirements that riders know how to use the fixed-route system and can get to and from buses, they believe they are welcome in the system, and they understand the costs and consequences of using paratransit. These results are achievable by educating riders, transit staff, and the general public. In addition, there needs to be informed manipulation of fixed routes.