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Elevating Paratransit with On-Demand Rides

BY BRENDAN McNIFF
Executive Vice President, Operations
RoundTrip Inc.
Philadelphia
 
Paratransit programs require innovation. Last year, medical transportation services provider RoundTrip partnered with the Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC) to increase access to public transportation for riders with disabilities. Six months in, the service provides more rides than ever and impacts an entire community in an on-demand program that’s the first of its kind.

GRTC is the primary public transportation provider for Richmond, VA, operating 37 local routes and 10 express routes and serving more than eight million passengers every year. In accordance with ADA guidelines, the GRTC CARE program provides origin-to-destination service to individuals with disabilities who may not reasonably be able to use fixed-route bus service.

The goal of RoundTrip’s partnership with GRTC was to conceptualize and deliver an innovative, pioneering mobility solution for paratransit riders, building on GRTC’s existing “CARE On-Demand” program. With the introduction of RoundTrip, CARE riders can now book on-demand rides via web platform, app or by calling our navigation center.

Once the ride is requested, RoundTrip communicates the ride to the RoundTrip Community, a network of more than 20 ambulatory and non-ambulatory transportation providers.

A side-by-side comparison of GRTC’s CARE service vs. RoundTrip’s on-demand ride service.

In the first 90 days of RoundTrip, CARE riders traveled more than 7,000 miles and successfully transitioned scheduling services from a phone-based system to an online booking portal. The average cost of a ride was $22.15, with the first $6 covered by the CARE rider.

CARE offers direct, non-stop service; same-day service; the ability to schedule a reservation up to 60 days in advance; freedom to ride solo or bring guests, a personal care assistant or a service animal; and the ability to travel anywhere within the GRTC CARE service area.

When making a reservation, the rider receives a description of the assigned driver, vehicle and service provider. ­Riders may also request specific amenities or accommodations, such as low-entry vehicles or trunk space for personal items.

RoundTrip offers both scheduled and on-demand ride service. For scheduled rides, RoundTrip confirms the ride with passengers and notifies them 24 hours prior to the ride, as well as one hour prior to the pickup time. For same-day service, RoundTrip sends text message or voice-call notifications when the ride is confirmed, and an alert before the vehicle arrives and when it has arrived.

Mobility device space or special assistance requests are accommodated according to ADA guidelines. CARE on-demand is an origin-to-destination service, including curb-to-curb and door-to-door. Passengers requiring door-to-door service can make the request when booking the ride.

This partnership is also a “smart-city” solution propelling the Greater Richmond area to the forefront of mobility solutions. GRTC recently announced it is moving from the pilot to a full one-year contract.
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