How Time Inefficient and Uncertain are Paratransit Trips Compared to Car Trips

Cemal Akcicek, Aditi Misra, Manish Shirgaokar, Wesley Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) stipulates that paratransit mobility be comparable to public transit. However, with just under 5% of the population relying on public transportation, transit is not a representative benchmark. To highlight this inequality, we compare trip times by paratransit to counterfactual car-based travel. Using 2.5 years of demand data from the Denver Regional Transportation District's Access-a-Ride service, we compare paratransit trip times to counterfactual car-based trips for the same origin-destination pairs, controlling for various trip characteristics. Compared to car travel, the findings indicate high variability and uncertainty associated with paratransit trip times. For the same origin-destination pairs, the mean paratransit trip time is almost twice that of the mean car travel time, with a standard deviation for paratransit trip time fourfold that of the standard deviation for car trip time. For perspective, traveling an average of 10 mi during the 7-8 a.m. morning peak can take about 16 min by car with almost no variability, while that same trip can take an average of 25 min by paratransit, with 5% of trips being outside the 95% confidence interval and thus unpredictable. Paratransit trip time inefficiency tends to be particularly worse for females; older adults; those making trips between 9 and 11 a.m.; cash-paying customers; those making shorter trips; and those traveling during inclement weather, including cold temperatures. These findings suggest a need to re-assess using public transit as a benchmark for paratransit supply as regulated by the ADA.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)272-285
Number of pages14
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5400-88594


  • accessible transportation and mobility
  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • disability
  • paratransit
  • public transportation
  • transportation equity


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