Improving the efficiency of demand-responsive paratransit services

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - paratransit, mode - taxi, operations - capacity, place - north america, planning - route design, policy - disability


paratransit services; route optimization, non-dedicated services


State agencies responsible for ADA-eligible paratransit services are increasingly under pressure to contain costs and maximize service quality. Many do not operate vehicles themselves; instead, they contract out the provision of services. Contractors are paid for each hour of service. They are responsible for hiring crew, forming routes, dispatching, and operating and maintaining agency-owned vehicles. In the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Metro Mobility, the agency responsible for providing paratransit services, requires contractors to use agency-approved software for booking trips dynamically and sets parameters that guide contractors’ practices. Customer trips booked in this fashion may not utilize capacity in the most efficient manner. Therefore, beginning with the daily trip schedules generated by the software, this paper proposes two approaches for improving the efficiency of paratransit operations and estimates the benefit of using these approaches via experiments that utilize Metro Mobility data. The first approach re-optimizes routes developed at the end of each day. The second approach evaluates the benefit to state agencies of selectively using non-dedicated service providers such as taxis. Both approaches are tested on actual data obtained from Metro Mobility. The study shows that a conservative estimate of savings from re-optimization would be approximately 5% of Metro Mobility’s operating costs. Savings from the use of taxis are smaller and in the range of hundreds of dollars per day.


Permission to publish abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


Transportation Research Part A: Home page; http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/09658564