Tag Archives: Paratransit

Bridj—on demand mass transit

The term disruption has begun to permeate everyday language as have the service changes. Bridj is another service that seeks to change the shuttle industry. Bridj also lays claim to being a mass transit solution. Bridj is, in many ways what paratransit services might wish to emulate, it’s not as far removed from the traditional paratransit model like Lyft and Uber.

Bridj projects costs to greater than traditional public transport but less than taxis or by driving oneself. Bridj basically sets routes based upon demand, where they are and where they need to be by time. Its still quasi-fixed route as it is still in beta.graphic showing route stops and times

The particular market Bridj is seeking to capture is composed of complex journeys, ones that involve transfers, thereby shortening commute times. Smartphone technology once more serves as the data source cornerstone and avoidance of traditional “booking” approaches such as call centers or even booking web sites.

It’s the technology that’s interesting. How it can be adapted to shuttle paratransit users would need to be explored, and the app would need to be fully accesible.

Ethical Issues

Paratransit is scheduled and routed transportation services using vans or buses that serve people who are unable to drive, which often is the elderly or people with disabilities. This can have many ethical issues that come along with it. In some states, you have to be on Medicaid to use paratransit, this can bring up many issues because not everyone with a disability is on Medicaid. In Reno, it isn’t based on income, it is based on eligibility. The issue with that is there are also minor disabilities, such as slow reaction time or moderate visual impairment, and those affected may not be eligible for paratransit, even though it is not safe for them to drive. In these situations, it leaves them much fewer options which is not ethical or fair to the people in these situations.

Another issue regarding ethics is that many who are eligible for transport do not live within the range that the paratransit vehicles cover. This is troubling, because many people who would be willing to take advantage of paratransit are not able to due to the simple fact that they live within the route of a paratransit vehicle. This can be an especially prominent issue in rural areas, where those in need of paratransit may not be able to receive transportation. And if these people are not eligible for paratransit, then how are they expected to travel comfortably and safely to the destinations they need to got to? This is an important question that needs to be addressed. Another big issue involves wait times for a ride from a paratransit vehicle. If a patient needing a ride to the doctor’s office schedules an appointment in advance, then they should, in theory, arrive at the appointment on time. But what if the patient must wait for an extended period of time before they can receive a ride back home? This could lead to serious ethical issues. Regardless of insurance type, disability, or location of residency, everyone who needs paratransit should be eligible to receive it.

Bus Stop Announcement System

Buses that run through a city can benefit everyone.  Not only is the bus system beneficial for those who don’t have car, but also for those who are new to the city, for those who don’t want to deal with parking at a large event, and for those with a disability.  However, all of these people may not know exactly where their stop is.  Someone who is new to the city, or just visiting, won’t always know what the landmarks around their stop are or even what the street names are.  Someone who parked a distance from the event they’re going to may not know exactly where the stop is, and someone with a disability may not need a  trigger to help them orient where they are.

There is a way that all passengers can tell when their stop is coming up soon.  Some buses and train systems announce every stop when approaching and then once they are at the stop.  According to ADA, there are requirements for bus stop announcements.  The ADA says, “on fixed route systems, the entity [bus system] shall announce stops as follows: The entity shall announce at least transfer points with other fixed routes, other major intersections and destination points, and intervals along a route sufficient to permit individuals with visual disabilities to be oriented to their location. Also, the entity shall announce any stop on request of an individual with a disability.”While this is only required if a person with a disability is on the bus, it would help others as well.  Not every person‘s disability is noticeable so there is no way that a bus driver would be able to tell which person on the bus has a disability and which person doesn’t.

While bus drivers want to help their passengers know where they are going, there are a lot of reasons why announcing the stops are troublesome for bus drivers. They could say that it gets too hectic and that they need to focus on the road, they could say that they aren’t trained to do it, or they could say people can already tell where their stop is.  They can also say that the passengers won’t be able to hear what they are saying when the bus is crowded or when they are in a busy section of town.

To help passengers, and allow bus drivers to focus on driving, there are companies that make automated systems.  Clever Devices, a company based out of New York, has a bus stop announcement system that can be installed in buses.  The “Automatic Voice Annunciation (AVA) system automates on-board passenger announcements, which not only keeps your passengers up to date automatically, but also helps create more accessible buses for visually impaired and hearing challenged riders. [There are] automated voice announcements alerting passengers to upcoming stops are [and these announcements are] coordinated with LED signage on board the bus to help all riders travel with more convenience and independence. The system is fully automated so that bus operators are free to concentrate on driving and other tasks requiring their attention.” This system complies with ADA requirements, has volume control, and allows riders to request a stop.  Even if there is someone on the bus that does not have a disability, this system can help them so that they know exactly where they are and when they need to get off.  It is extremely helpful for someone with a disability because it gives them the chance to read and hear where they are and where they will be going next.

Clear Device AVA Key features

  • ADA compliant
  • Automatic voice announcements
  • Automatic stop announcements
  • On-board passenger information
  • Automatic volume control
  • Works with GPS
  • AVA Increases Ridership and Customer Satisfaction

Picture of where the Clever Device system is set up in the bus

This type of system is already integrated into buses and trains in Canada and buses in London.  It is also integrated into the bus system in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Denver, Colorado and the subway system throughout New York.

This system, or any system like this, can make riders’ trip, no matter what their reason for being on the bus, easier.  With the announcement system, the LED sign, and the option to request a stop, every rider has the opportunity to get where they need to be when they need to be there without worrying.

The city of Reno just released electric buses.  While they were developing these buses they could have installed this system to make the ride that much better.  The current buses should install this system in the current buses.  It would make the ride easier for the passengers and less stressful for the driver.


Clever Devices website

ADA Requirements



Ridership Demographics

Ridership Demographics for the Reno Paratransit service include locations, cost, journey profile, scheduling window and expected vs. actual pick up times.

passenger being loaded onto an RTC access bus


  • Paratransit operates within the urbanized area of Reno.
  • Areas that are not serviced by RTC fixed route bus system may not have service through the RTC ADA Paratransit Services.
  • RTC ACCESS has designated pick-up locations at large facilities and shopping malls.
  • Please note: a wheelchair, scooter or other mobility device that is larger than 48” long x 30” wide and/or weighs more than 600 pounds when occupied, RTC ACCESS may not be able to transport you in that mobility device.

Journey Profile

RTC ACCESS serves a 250 square mile area that includes the Reno-Sparks area of Washoe County. Within that is an area of approximately 100 square miles known as the ADA service area that is within ¾ mile of the RTC RIDE bus routes (white area on map, on front inside cover).Under the federal ADA paratransit regulations, RTC ACCESS is required to serve all ride requests for trips that begin and end within the ADA service area and are received 1 to 3 days in advance.

In order to comply with this federal requirement, the 250 square mile service area has been divided into ADA and non-ADA zones. Trips in the ADA (white) zone have priority; trips in the non-ADA zone are more difficult to obtain. RTC ACCESS is mostly funded by the Washoe County sales tax.

Scheduling window

Monday-Friday: 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Weekends and Holidays: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Scheduling Tips:

RTC suggests that riders be flexible. (RTC may be able to take riders earlier or later than the time they first request.)

RTC Paratransit asks riders to allow enough time. (The driver will probably pick-up/drop off other passengers.)

Paratransit riders always have to give appointment times.

The ride may be equal to the time the trip would take on a RTC RIDE bus plus 20 minutes. Trips to, from, or within outlying areas may be longer.

• If a rider calls early to schedule and no trip is available, the rider is asked to call again. (Riders may be able to schedule 1 or 2 days prior to their trip since space often becomes available.)

Scheduled pickup window (expected and actual)

  • To be at a destination at a specific time, a rider should schedule their arrival for at least 15 to 30 minutes before their appointment.
  • Traffic, road construction, and bad weather will increase travel time.
  • Riders should book their return trip at the same time they book their trip out.
  • Riders should schedule return trips with extra time for possible delays.
  • Riders should always get trip confirmation number(s).There will be one for each time riders board the vehicle.
  • A van or a Reno-Sparks Cab may pick up paratransit riders.
  • Riders are asked to combine errands in order to take the fewest trips and make the best use of their time and money.
  • Riders are asked to reserve only trips they intend to take as there is a penalty for “no-shows”.

No subscription service on these holidays:

• New Year’s Day

• Martin Luther King Jr. Day

• Presidents’ Day

• Memorial Day

• Independence Day

• Labor Day

• Nevada Day

• Veterans Day

• Thanksgiving Day

• Family Day

• Christmas Day


Paid by ticket only (Effective August 30, 2009):

ADA Base fare: 1 ticket $3.00

ADA will-call fare: 2 tickets $6.00

ADA Companion fare: 1 ticket $3.00

Authorized attendants: free

Ticket book: 10 tickets $30

Children Under Age 6: FREE

The RTC is currently not funding any non-ADA service area rides. All non-ADA service area rides are now being funded by CitiCare, a Reno non-profit organization. CitiCare funded over 10,000 rides in 2013. These rides are purchased by the non-profit (which receives grants) and put into the RTC inventory to provide the non-ADA service area to riders, which the RTC is not mandated to provide.

Feeder Service

Free “feeder service” is available to all RTC ACCESS clients. RTC ACCESS will transport between trip origin or destination and an RTC RIDE bus stop. The cost is $0.50 on RTC RIDE and nothing on RTC ACCESS. Riders must request feeder service rides when they schedule their trips.

  • Attendants are designated personal care assistants (pca) needed by some riders. Only responsible parties may be attendants. Attendants ride RTC ACCESS free when accompanying riders who have “Attendant Authorized” on their RTC ACCESS ID cards.
  • Currently, it is estimated that RTC ACCESS provides 238,000 rides per year at a cost of over $4 million. Yet, there is an unmet demand of approximately 13,000 rides and an annual shortfall of $250,000

Fare Free Zone

RTC does not charge a fare for the RTC SIERRA SPIRIT bus service in downtown Reno. Therefore, under ADA regulations, RTC ACCESS trips that begin and end within 3/4 mile of the RTC SIERRA SPIRIT route are fare free. RTC ACCESS reservations will inform riders whether their trips are fare free at the time the rides are scheduled.

(The information about Fare Free Zone maybe be outdated because the Sierra Spirit is not free anymore. Regular fare for the RTC Sierra Spirit is 25 cents and reduced fare is 10 cents. Their is no up to date information on the RTC Fare Free Zone since the implementation of fare fees on the Sierra Spirit.)


Attending an RTC public meeting

Found out about the meeting early this afternoon. Meeting seems to have drawn a large number of agency and ancillary interests, doesn’t seem to be a large number of consumers here however. I wonder why?

Wide view of meeting room with about 50 peopleApparently, it was meant to be a smaller meeting focused on seniors but seems to have drawn a large crowd

Quick scan and OCR of the agenda that was not as widely circulated. As usual, no accessible version was offered. Text is in all caps, large point size and all bold font, The size is good for those with limited vision but all caps and bolding make it harder for scanning.



TUESDAY. APRIL 15. 2014 2 ~4) p.m.
UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA. RENO Joe Crowley Student Union. Ballroom B


I was only able to attend during the introductions, had to leave the minute business started.


Tracking planes visually stunning, why not track Paratransit usage?

Just a neat example of giving life to massive amounts of geolocation data. Think about doing this with Paratransit journeys. Maybe showing distinct phases  or occupancy levels using distinct color. For example, how much is outbound travel verses actual miles with a passenger.

How might this be achieved?

I’m assuming that the RTC doesn’t GPS track its paratransit vehicles, if they did then use that raw data.

Maybe recreation from a log of dispatch, then use a mapping service to decide the route taken.

I wonder if something like Maptimize would be useful? They’re the ones behind the demo site one million tweet map that displays the last million tweets over the world in real-time.

split map showing two ways to graphically represent geo data
Ideas for mapping paratransit demand and delivery