The National Academies

TCRP B-40 [Final]

Strategy Guide to Enable and Promote the Use of Fixed-Route Transit by People with Disabilities

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Research Agency: TranSystems
Principal Investigator: Russell Thatcher
Effective Date: 9/30/2011
Completion Date: 1/30/2014

It has been more than 20 years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).  The ADA was signed into law with the intent of making public transportation’s fixed-route service accessible to and usable by people with disabilities. ADA complementary paratransit was created as a “safety net” for people whose disabilities prevented them from using fixed-route service. Over the past 20 years, public transit agencies have reported significant growth in ADA complementary paratransit ridership, resulting in dramatic increases in costs. Ridership has increased despite the introduction and deployment of accessible fixed-route buses and trains, modifications to stations and bus stops to provide accessibility, and ongoing improvements to public infrastructure (streets and sidewalks) to overcome barriers and provide universal access. ADA complementary paratransit ridership has increased despite the implementation by many transit agencies of conditional or trip-by-trip eligibility. Instead of being the safety net, ADA complementary paratransit has become the primary public transportation mode for many people with disabilities.  
Given the ongoing financial and economic climate and the growing challenges of providing public transportation to a larger population of people with disabilities, including older adults, it is critical for transit agencies to serve their customers more effectively and efficiently.   Identifying and removing barriers to using fixed-route services will improve the public transportation travel experience for everyone and will enable some ADA paratransit eligible people to use fixed-route services for some or all of their public transportation trips. Transit systems, and hence the nation, will benefit by the cost shifting, and/or cost avoidance that will occur when people with disabilities use fixed-route services for some or all of their travel, relying on ADA complementary paratransit as a safety net, as envisioned. Most important, people with disabilities will experience greater  mobility, independence, self-reliance, and inclusion in their communities when they can use fixed-route services.
The objective of this research is to prepare a practitioners strategy guide to enable and promote the use of fixed-route services by people with disabilities. This research should build on and not repeat previous research pertaining to this subject, including TCRP Report 24: Guidebook for Attracting Paratransit Patrons to Fixed-Route Services and other documents by TCRP; Easter Seals Project Action (ESPA); APTA; the National Transit Institute (NTI); the National Council on Disability (NCD); the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF); and other organizations that have examined public transportation options for people with disabilities, conditional eligibility, transit stop/station accessibility, travel training, training for transit personnel regarding the ADA, and other related matters addressed in this research.
STATUS: The guidebook has been published in the regular TCRP series as Report #163.

The guidebook is available for download on the TRB website as TCRP Report #163.  Along with the guidebook, five briefs summarize key findings of the research and a final report (which includes a summary of the literature, description of the research methodology, copies of the survey instruments used, and detailed tabulations of the survey responses) are also available for download from the TRB website.

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