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Center Identification Number:  NCTR 576-13


Project Title:  Update Methodology for ADA Demand Estimates: Lessons Learned


Principal Investigator:          


Cheryl Thole






Center for Urban Transportation Research

University of South Florida

Tampa, Florida


External Project Contact:


Tara Bartee




I.  Project Objective                              


Many transit systems in Florida and across the country find themselves being overwhelmed by requests for ADA paratransit trips.  As a result, they are being forced to reduce fixed route services in order to balance their budgets.  The objective of this project is to develop an updated methodology for forecasting ADA demand, to document lessons learned from current/past ADA forecasting methods, and methods for dealing with an overwhelming need for ADA paratransit services.  This will allow transit agencies to more accurately predict the need for ADA paratransit service and to budget appropriately.


II.  Project Abstract


The current and accepted standard for determining local impacts of ADA is found in the ADA Paratransit Handbook published in September 1991 (UMTA-MA-06-0206-91-1).  This methodology was developed from surveys taken in 1978 and 1987, along with 1980 U.S. Census data.  The current methodology may represent the population that is potentially ADA-eligible; however, it does little to assist transit agencies in determining actual paratransit demand.  Additionally, transit systems now have vehicles that can accommodate many disabilities, making it possible for many of the potential ADA-eligible population to ride the fixed route.  Information regarding methodologies used to forecast ADA paratransit demand among transit agencies must be gathered in order to provide an understanding of certain practices and then to assess which methodologies to be considered best practices.


III.  Task Descriptions


Several questions will be addressed, such as:

  • What methodologies are being used to forecast demand?  What is their level of accuracy?

  • What happens to ADA paratransit demand (and its corresponding service area) when a transit agency cuts back the fixed routing?

  • What are the financial impacts to a start-up transit system?

  • How do transit agencies handle ADA paratransit service hours when the service hours vary on different fixed routes?

The tasks, as outlined below, support an effort to answer these questions.


Task 1:  Data Collection


Information on the number of certified ADA users and the number of ADA paratransit trips per year would be gathered from all Florida transit agency databases, and from several transit agencies throughout the United States.


Information on users, trips, population, costs, and service hours will also help understand  accurate methodologies for demand estimation.


Previous and current Census data demographic information will be collected to coincide with the above-referenced transit areas.


Task 2:  Case Studies


CUTR will collect and review specific examples of local and national forecasting methodologies, if available, and determine their level of accuracy.  Staff will also attempt to determine accepted and best practices for demand estimation.


Task 3:  Final Report


A report of the findings will be generated along with a determination of best practices for demand estimation found during data collection and analysis.  Associated costs determined by transit agencies for the provision of paratransit demand will be provided as well. 


IV.  Project Schedule


Start Date:  Approximately February 1, 2003
















Task 1













Task 2













Task 3













Progress Reports













Final Report














V.  Project Budget




   Faculty Salaries


   Administrative Staff Salaries


   Other Staff Salaries


   Student Salaries


   Staff Benefits


Total Salaries and Benefits


   Permanent Equipment


   Expendable Equipment and Supplies


   Domestic Travel


   Other Costs


Total Direct Costs


   Indirect Costs @ 5%





Notes:  This budget does not reflect any federal participation.


The project team will include faculty, students, and secretarial and other support staff who will work directly on the project and whose costs are reflected in the direct costs of the project as listed above.


VI.  Student Involvement


Graduate students will be used to assist in data collection and the development of the model. 


VII.  Relationship to Other Research Projects


The ADA Paratransit Handbook published in September 1991 (UMTA-MA-06-0206-91-1) contains the accepted standard for estimating ADA paratransit demand.  This methodology is outdated, and does not represent an accurate assessment of demand. 


VIII.   Technology Transfer Activities


The results of this analysis will be provided to the FDOT through a series of technical memoranda and a final report on CD, and will be made available on the NCTR website and through presentations at local and national conferences.


IX.  Potential Benefits of the Project


The objective of this project is to develop a comprehensive report on methodologies employed at transit agencies for demand estimation, to document lessons learned from current/past ADA forecasting methods, and to determine best practices among methodologies included in the study.  This will allow transit agencies to more accurately understand the need for ADA paratransit service, and to budget appropriately.


X.  TRB Keywords 


Public transit, paratransit, ADA, ridership estimation


National Center for Transit Research at the Center For Urban Transportation Research University of South Florida 4202 E. Fowler Ave., CUT100 Tampa, FL 33620-5375 (813) 974-3120 (813) 974-5168 Comments: