Improving Capacity Planning for Demand-Responsive Paratransit Services

Principal Investigator(s):

Diwakar Gupta, Former Professor, Mechanical Engineering


  • Lisa Miller, Former Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Project summary:

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates on-demand paratransit services for eligible users wherever the public transit systems receive federal funding. In the Twin Cities, door-to-door service is provided by Metro Mobility, which uses dedicated vehicles to achieve ADA service goals. Driven partly by the desire to improve service and partly by the anticipated Federal Transit Authority requirement of guaranteed same-day service, Metro Mobility and other service providers across the nation considered the use of supplementary non-dedicated services such as taxis, reasoning that non-dedicated services could take some of the peak load off dedicated vehicles. In turn, this would decrease capacity denials without needing to invest in additional dedicated vehicles. This project, which addressed a genuine need to improve efficiency and quality of service available to the ADA population in Minnesota, had three development goals: 1) mathematical models for computing the best service level associated with each level of expenditure on dedicated and non-dedicated services; 2) a structured decision analysis framework for choosing the right mix of dedicated and non-dedicated services; and 3) a methodology to help paratransit service providers estimate resources required to respond to increasing demand and to move toward the goal of same-day service. The final report showed that a conservative estimate of savings from re-optimization would equal five percent of Metro Mobility's operating costs, and additional savings from the use of taxi service would amount to hundreds of dollars per day. The actual magnitude of these savings would depend on the proportion of customers who agree to travel by taxi.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2006009
  • Start date: 08/2005
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Environment and Energy
  • Topics: Planning