The National Academies

TCRP B-23 [Completed]

Resource Requirements for Demand-Responsive Transportation Services

  Project Data
Funds: $249,971
Research Agency: Northwestern University Transportation Center
Principal Investigator: Barry L. Nelson and Joseph L. Schofer
Effective Date: 12/1/2000
Completion Date: 8/30/2003

Demand-responsive transportation , which is currently provided throughout the United States as specialized transportation for elderly and disabled persons, increasingly is also provided to the general public, particularly in areas with lower densities or lower levels of demand. Despite the widespread availability of these services, there is no generally accepted procedure to determine the resources required to serve different levels of demand or to provide different levels of service in a specific service area. Resource requirements for fixed-route, fixed-schedule public transportation service are determined either by demand (e.g., peak-load-point volumes) or by policy (e.g., 30-minute headways in mid-day hours). Once the route and service frequency are established, it is relatively easy to compute the resources required to operate fixed-route, fixed-schedule service (i.e., driver pay hours, vehicle miles, vehicle hours, and number of buses). However, for demand-responsive transportation, the problem of estimating resource requirements is far more complex.

This research project will (a) determine the parameters that most influence resource requirements for demand-responsive transportation and (b) quantify the relationship between these parameters and the resource requirements. The following parameters are considered to be important in this research project:

· Size of the service area;
· Street pattern;
· Population;
· Ridership levels (and characteristics);
· Response time ( i.e., advance reservation time);
· Service type (point to point, curb to curb, or door to door);
· Dwell time at each stop (passenger assistance time, based on passenger needs);
· Trip duration;
· Demand distribution (both by time and by geography);
· Percent standing orders;
· Environmental conditions;
· Pick-up time window;
· Quality of the driver communication system;
· Dispatch, routing and scheduling system; and
· Vehicle location system.

The research should build on the experience of transit agencies (such as the Tidewater Transportation District Commission, Pace Suburban Transit, Fort Worth Transportation Authority, and Hamilton, Ohio) and consider the state-of-the-art methodologies used in public transportation and in other industries. The product should be applicable in urban, suburban, and rural communities.

The objective of this project is to develop a methodology to determine the resources required (i.e., vehicles and vehicle service hours) to provide demand-responsive transportation for different levels of demand and different levels of service in a given service area. (See Note A for definition of demand-responsive transportation for purposes of this project.) Localities may then calculate the associated costs to provide the services.

Status: This report is published as TCRP Report 98: Resource Requirements for Demand-Responsive Transportation Services.

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