Pilot Test Smart Phone/Tablet App for Paratransit Demand-Response Passenger Pick-up Alerts to Assist Passenger with Disabilities

Download Final Report

CAIT project no.: CAIT-UTC-069

Fiscal Year: 2015/2016

Status: Final

Rutgers-CAIT Author(s): Cecilia Feeley, Ph.D., Lazar Spasovic, Ph.D., Patrick Szary, Ph.D.

External Author(s): Ronnie Siriani

Sponsor(s): USDOT-FHWA, NJ Transit


This research produced an arrival notification system for paratransit passengers with disabilities.

Almost all current curb-to-curb paratransit services have wide, inconsistent pick-up-time windows—as much as 20 to 40 minutes—that keep passengers waiting for significantly long periods, potentially producing or exacerbating their anxiety level.

The arrival notification alert system presented in this study delivers an automated voice call to the passenger when the paratransit vehicle is nearing their pick-up location. The rider only needs to register for the service as they would most smart phone apps or websites.

The system uses Google Traffic API to estimate vehicle arrival-time. Unlike other state-of-the-practice vehicle-arrival notification systems, the proposed system is compact and does not require specialized equipment, such as radio transmitting or global positioning devices.

Using consumer smart devices operating on an Android or iOS platform, the proposed system exploits commercial 3G and 4G-LTE cellular networks. In addition to notifying the passenger, it also provides paratransit drivers with real-time navigation guidance developed through Google Maps API.

Field evaluations conducted in Essex County, New Jersey, revealed the system reduced passenger waiting times by 15 to 20 minutes. The accuracy of the notification system also was field tested; results showed in a vast majority of instances during the test period, the paratransit vehicle arrived 1 minute ahead of the estimated pick-up time.