Research Portal

January 3, 2023

Incorporating Ride-sourcing Services into Paratransit for People with Disabilities: Opportunities and Barriers

Ashour, Lamis Abu; Shen, Qing. (2022). Incorporating Ride-sourcing Services into Paratransit for People with Disabilities: Opportunities and Barriers. Transport Policy, 126, 355–363.

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The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires public transit agencies to provide an equivalent transportation service for people with disabilities, known as ADA paratransit service. As the U.S. population continues to grow and age, the demand for paratransit service keeps rising, posing many challenges for transit agencies due to its high operational cost. In response, a growing number of transit agencies are looking to incorporate alternative paratransit services by forming partnerships with transportation network companies (TNCs) to provide what is known as same-day service (SDS). However, most of these partnerships are still in the pilot phase, and scant research investigates the opportunities and barriers of SDS or provides guidelines and measures for transit agencies interested in such partnerships. Considering both the characteristics of paratransit trips and riders and the operational norms of TNCs, this paper explores different conditions under which SDS trips are most appropriate and estimates potential trip diversion from conventional paratransit to SDS operated by TNCs. Trip diversion conditions include (1) trip length, which is impacted by the subsidy amount for SDS and the dynamic pricing of TNC trips, (2) level of service, which depends on the level of mobility assistance required by paratransit riders, and (3) the operational efficiency of conventional paratransit. Different settings and combinations of these conditions help transit agencies explore the potential trip diversion of SDS while considering significant barriers to the service. Using 2019 ridership data of Access paratransit, the ADA paratransit services in the Seattle region, this research finds that without an excessive subsidy amount, transit agencies can divert up to 18% of paratransit trips to SDS. This percentage can drop to as low as 11% of paratransit trips if transit agencies further limit the SDS service area to ensure the efficiency of conventional ADA paratransit. This paper concludes that although SDS provides many benefits, significant barriers inherent to TNC business models and paratransit users should be carefully examined when pursuing ADA paratransit-TNC partnerships.


ADA Paratransit; Transportation network company (TNC); Ride-sourcing; Transportation equity; Public-private partnership