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Paratransit Service Fleet Configuration


The increase in the population of frail elderly who are ambulatory but are eligible to use paratransit, has directly increased the demand for paratransit service delivery. This increase has, in turn, led some transit agencies to move away from standard one-vehicle type fleets in favor of a mixed fleet incorporating smaller accessible vehicles and non-accessible (generally sedans) vehicles. Some transit agencies will still need larger vehicles for group trips. Determining the fleet mix is further complicated by mandates issued by a few states to move away from gasoline and diesel and towards electric powertrains.

The first wave of fleet configuration changes has sometimes provided some of the expected benefits of lower operating costs and service delivery flexibility due to incorporating smaller vehicles into the fleet mix. Still, these changes have also brought forward a new set of service delivery issues with related questions. These include, among others:

·More vehicle types can lead to increased driver/maintenance training and redesigned facilities, which in turn increase costs.

·Have these new costs been offset by lower-cost parts, fuel savings, reduced maintenance and quicker vehicle maintenance turnaround on smaller vehicles?

·Vehicle operators and passengers may display a preference for specific vehicle types, leading to increased complaints, scheduling constraints and employee performance issues.

·The vehicle type changes increase the permutations and combinations of ambulatory/non-ambulatory passengers on vehicles, increasing demand on the service ride management systems to keep the vehicle on schedule.

·A mixed fleet complicates reassignment of rides, if a vehicle runs late or goes out of service.

·Service policies require a re-write to include the change in vehicles.

·Should performance metrics be adjusted? For example, passenger loads on sedans may decrease overall productivity.


A new set of performance metrics may be required to manage the performance of a mixed fleet. How are transit agencies accounting for varying vehicle types when establishing vehicle performance metrics? How does the service model impact the metrics, as some vehicle types may be used in-house while others are outsourced through contracted services?

What is the range of vehicle mixes in paratransit fleets, and how have transit agencies been deciding on their vehicle mix? Has the range of vehicle mixes changed over the past five years? What may be affecting their decisions in future operations?


Provide tools and strategies to help agencies improve mixed fleet paratransit service performance.

Related Research:

Analyzing the Costs of Operating Small Transit Vehicles. TCRP Report 61, 2000

Resource Guide of Commingling ADA and Non-ADA Paratransit Riders. TCRP Report 143, 2011

Use of Mobility Devices on Paratransit Vehicles and Buses. TCRP Report 171, 2014

Performance Managing a Mixed Paratransit Fleet. TRB Annual Meeting, Podium Presentation, 2020


1.Survey candidate transit agencies with a mixed vehicle fleet to understand the state of the practice

2.Strive to survey transit agencies with three categories of fleet size: small (1–25 vehicles), medium (26–100 vehicles), and large (>100 vehicles) operations

3.Document transit agencies’ fleet by type of vehicle (accessible paratransit van, accessible mini-van, sedan, etc.) and power train (electric, CNG, or gas/diesel)

4.Catalogue current service configuration by vehicle type:

·% in house

·% outsourced but dispatched,

·% outsourced

5.Understand and document objectives and criteria used by transit agencies to determine fleet mix, e.g., cost savings, ease of vehicle maintenance, driver training issues, satisfying passenger preferences, etc.

6.Document success (or not) in achieving goals for changing vehicle fleet mix.

7.Document planned/expected changes to vehicle fleet mix.

8.Catalogue next steps/future plans of mixed fleet systems concerning vehicle utilization., vehicle replacement schedule.

Sponsoring Committee:AP055, Rural, Intercity Bus, and Specialized Transportation
Research Period:6 - 12 months
Research Priority:High
RNS Developer:David Chia
Source Info:Conferring with members of AP055 and other industry experts
Date Posted:04/30/2021
Date Modified:05/28/2021
Index Terms:Vehicle fleets, Fleet management, Paratransit services, Paratransit vehicles,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Public Transportation
Administration and Management
Operations and Traffic Management
Vehicles and Equipment

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