Bringing Innovation to Paratransit

Sarah Kaufman, Joanna Simon and Calloway Hope Aboaf
"Bringing Innovation to Paratransit," NYU Rudin Center for Transportation, December 2017.

Access-A-Ride, New York City’s paratransit program, provides door-to-door transportation service at the same cost as a transit ride for passengers who are unable to use the city’s fixed-route buses and subways. Access-A-Ride is costly for its operator, the Metropolitan Transportation Agency (MTA): The program cost $467.7 million in 2016. AAR’s high costs are due to system issues — specifically, inefficient ride matching, routing and transit feeders.


The NYU Rudin Center for Transportation conducted an in-depth analysis of the MTA’s data set of all AAR trips taken in 2015. In that year, 6,284,188 trips were recorded. To date, this is the only analysis of AAR data external to the MTA.


This analysis builds upon Intelligent Paratransit, released in November 2016 by the NYU Rudin Center. In that report, 14 technology upgrades were recommended. One of those recommendations, data analysis, is at the heart of this report, and is the starting point for innovation in paratransit.


This report, Bringing Innovation to Paratransit, includes AAR usage by neighborhood, public transit accessibility needs and most commonly requested routes. The report includes recommendations to improve the paratransit program, including ride-sharing opportunities, priority subway stations for accessibility upgrades and open data for future analyses. The accompanying interactive map, located, is available for the public to explore the AAR data for education and advocacy.  


Bringing Innovation to Paratransit uses data to improve mobility options for the disabled in New York City, and demonstrates the power of data analysis to inform transportation planning and policy.

Access-A-Ride Activity by Census Block
Wagner Faculty