CAIT project no.: 287-RU4820
Fiscal Year: 2012/2013
Rutgers-CAIT Author(s): Eric Gonzales, Ph.D.
External Author(s): Camille Crichton-Sumners
Sponsor(s): New Jersey Department of Transportation
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires public transit agencies to provide paratransit service to individuals who are unable to use fixed-route buses because of their disability. New Jersey first introduced Access Link paratransit in 1993; in compliance with the law, the system fully shadowed the NJ TRANSIT local bus network by 1997.
Access Link is available for customers with disabilities (and their traveling companions) whose trip origins and destinations are with 3/4 mile of NJ TRANSIT fixed-route bus services. Additional coverage is offered within some core urban areas.
NJ TRANSIT’s bus operations cover a large geographic area. It currently separates the state into six overlapping service regions. Within these regions, Access Link trips can be made without requiring a transfer. Operations within each region are contracted to private service providers.
This study addresses a primary question: How should these service regions be geographically aligned to minimize agency costs while still maintaining high-quality service to users?
The primary objective of the research was to review and analyze Access Link service in order to identify ways to improve its efficiency and effectiveness. It included analysis of the existing geographical service regions and methodologies for serving long trips and transfers. Ideally, Access Link service regions would be organized and structured in a way that 1) facilitated competitive bidding for operating contracts, and 2) is robust enough to support future demand changes.
As part of this study, the research team investigated existing practices for ADA paratransit service provided by Access Link, benchmarked its performance against other agencies in the United States, and then conducted extensive demand-and-supply modeling to make predictions about how the cost of paratransit services in New Jersey can be expected to change in the future. In addition to forecasting growth of demand due to demographic changes, the study also included analysis of how operations and related costs may change as the service areas are realigned or the coverage area for eligible trips is expanded.