Definition: Defining the Meaning of Paratransit
Paratransit is recognized in North America as special transportation services for people with disabilities, often provided as a supplement to fixed-route bus and rail systems by public transit agencies. Paratransit services may vary considerably on the degree of flexibility they provide their customers. At their simplest they may consist of a taxi or small bus that will run along a more or less defined route and then stop to pick up or discharge passengers on request. At the other end of the spectrum, fully demand responsive transport, the most flexible paratransit systems offer on-demand call-up door-to-door service from any origin to any destination in a service area.
Access to both public and private transport is crucial to the ability of people with disability, and their families and carers, to participate fully in community life. Our paratransit section covers businesses and services offering transport for people with disabilities in specially adapted vehicles that can carry wheelchairs and other disability aids. Services providing group transport for disabled persons are also listed.
Whether you require a disability transportation service to work, college, school, or just to go shopping or attend an event, you will often find a private company in your area who can provide you with your mobility needs.
Paratransit vehicles available for transporting the elderly (seniors) and passengers with a disability range from wheelchair accessible taxi's to modified vans and minibuses with ramps, lifts, and hoists. Many of the 16 seat minibuses available today can be adapted to take up to four wheelchairs plus seated passengers.
Drivers of both public and private disability transport services are professional drivers who are trained to handle people with disabilities and their needs who use their service. The Standards provide transport operators and providers with certainty about their obligations under the countries relevant disability act such as the ADA and DDA.
Most private disability transport services provide door-to-door pick ups to your destination and the same for your return journey. Public transport usually specify various accessible pick up locations en-route, however today, you will find due to discrimination rules that most pick up and destination venues allow you access to public transport - be sure to check with your local public bus-line, train, metro, or other transportation service first.
Quick Facts: Alternative Paratransit
- In Hong Kong, Rehabus service is provided by the Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation.
- The New Zealand Transport Agency provides a comprehensive list of options in the country, including Total Mobility in Auckland.
- In some parts of the world, transportation services for the elderly and disabled are obtainable through Share Taxi options, often without formal government involvement.
- In the United Kingdom, services are called community transport and provided locally. The Community Transport Association is a central organization recognized by the government.
- In Australia, Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport under subsection 31 of the Disability Discrimination Act of 1992 mandated that as of 2002 "all new public transport conveyances, premises and infrastructure must comply with the transport standards. Facilities already in operation at that time have between five and thirty years to comply with the standards."
Paratransit systems in many developing world cities are operated by individuals and small business. The fragmented, intensely competitive nature of the industry makes government regulation and control much harder than traditional public transport.