Innovative Operating Strategies for Paratransit Services

This Innovations Deserving Exploratory Analysis (IDEA) project explores innovative strategies for operating ADA Paratransit services. Since an inefficiency of the paratransit services is due to the large amount of empty trip miles driven for serving cross-zonal customers, the goal of this research is to quantify the potential benefits of enabling service providers to serve both trips of cross-zonal customers in need of round trip rides. The main anticipated benefits due to the implementation of this innovative operating practice would be a significant reduction of the empty trip miles driven (and their associated costs) and an improvement of the level of service provided to customers. The authors explored whether allowing the innovative proposed strategy could benefit the overall operations and to what extent, by investigating both static and dynamic scheduling scenarios. This project had two stages. In the first stage, the authors proposed three new policies allowing providers to serve a given zone to pick up out-of-zone passengers that are in need of their return trip to this zone. Among these new polices, two of them base the customer assignment decisions on the relative distance between pick-up and drop-off locations. The research team developed new algorithms that incorporate the proposed strategies into the scheduling and developed simulation models that replicate the paratransit operations. The authors completed the development of the static and dynamic model and validated them with simulated schematic cases. In the second stage of the project, they evaluated the effects of implementing their proposed operation strategies using a simulation platform they developed and real demand data collected from Houston, Los Angeles and Boston. Simulations were first performed assuming Manhattan distances and then using real network distances calculated with ArcGIS geocoding and network analyst software to carefully replicate real operations. Simulation results showed that, without sacrificing customers’ level of service, the best policy can significantly reduce the inefficient empty trip miles by up to 23%. As a result, it can save up to 6.6% assigned vehicles, lower the total mileage by 9% and improving the passenger trips per revenue hour by 7.8%, indicating a significant saving in operation cost and improvement in productivity by adopting the proposed policy while maintaining a reasonable level of service quality. The authors expect that the implementation of the operation strategies will have these noticeable benefits: maintain a zoning structure for easier overall management and better reliability; reduce the empty trip miles to lower operating costs; and improve the passenger trips per revenue hour; and allow cross-zonal customers to book both legs of their round-trip ride with the same provider, for an improved level of service. The simulation model developed here can be served as a powerful and effective platform to test and evaluate different paratransit operation policies.

  • Record URL:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This Transit IDEA project was conducted by Texas A&M Transportation Institute, College Station, Texas. Distribution, posting, or copying of this PDF is strictly prohibited without written permission of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials in this PDF are copyrighted by the National Academy of Sciences. Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved
  • Authors:
    • Quadrifoglio, Luca
  • Publication Date: 2013-11


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 47p
  • Serial:
  • Publication flags:

    Open Access (libre)

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01530056
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: Transit IDEA Project 73
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Jul 2 2014 9:13AM