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Improving Service for the Transportation Disadvantaged


Older adults, persons with disabilities, and individuals with lower incomes are among the populations that often find themselves with limited access to transportation. These groups are considered to be “transportation disadvantaged.” They need flexible and dependable routes and schedules, low-cost fares that are easy to understand, and transportation that is safe and secure. The Federal Highway and Transit Administrations created this report to highlight Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) solutions that improve transit access for the transportation disadvantaged. The report also examines six diverse sites that have successfully organized and applied ITS solutions for the transportation disadvantaged in their communities.

Key Points

The report provides an in-depth look at specific ITS projects and offers an evaluation, as well as lessons learned from each. The six sites profiled in this report include Wheels of Wellness, Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (CCRTA), Flint Mass Transportation Authority, Venture County Transportation Commission, TriMet, and Client Referral, Ridership, and Financial Tracking (CRRAFT). Each site uses different forms of ITS solutions to improve overall transportation accessibility. Using ITS solutions to increase flexibility, efficiency, and coordination has proven to be an effective way to cut costs for transportation agencies thus, reducing costs for transportation-disadvantaged groups. With the right technology in place, agencies can better coordinate schedules and determine which routes need vehicles with special design characteristics.

Other report highlights include:

  1. By applying ITS solutions to its operations, the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (CCRTA) has improved the efficiency of its dispatchers by allowing them to serve more people, maintain open communications between drivers and clients, and answer queries more accurately.
  2. TriMet (WHAT IS TriMet) provides public transportation for much of the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area. TriMet utilizes ITS solutions in many ways to make the transportation experience easier for all transit users. For example, TriMet offers a trip planner feature that creates itineraries for travelers based on their input and needs.  
  3. The Venture County Transportation Commission in Ventura, California provides a service called Travel Router that allows travelers to plan a transit trip that may include multiple modes like busses, trains, or ferries. The system also allows travelers to make special requests such as minimal walking or no transfers.

How to Use

Community planners and local officials can use this report to better understand the importance of technology in coordinating efficient transit options for transportation-disadvantaged populations in their community. The case studies presented in the report can be used as a guide to understand how other areas are improving their transportation options and making public transit more accessible for all residents through the use of technology solutions. Since there is high variability among transit providers, there is no single technology that will be appropriate for all areas. Yet ITS solutions can be developed and customized for almost any setting.

View full report: Improving Service for the Transportation Disadvantaged (PDF – 539 KB)

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