August 6, 2012

UT Survey: Operators weigh in on paratransit programs

With ridership increasing at many university transit systems and our annual paratransit issue about to come out, we were curious to learn more about university paratransit programs. We asked a few universities to tell us about their paratransit ridership, services and whether they offer travel training. Here are their responses:




“Last academic year, we had around 245 authorized paratransit users. This number includes students, faculty and staff. We have two paratransit vehicles, which are brand new. Of course, all authorized users don't utilize our service at the same time. However, we do get very busy. We have two full-time drivers operating from around 7:40a.m. (first pick up) to the final pick up around 7:35 p.m. There's also a daily student shift in there too. We also offer extended service through a local cab contractor for off hours, extending to around 10 p.m. All paratransit service operates Monday through Friday only unless arrangements have been made to do so, i.e. for football games, etc.”

Shawn L. Harrison, RN, coordinator, paratransit services
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Mich.



“We currently have five minibuses servicing our five campuses and average about 100 passenger trips per day, providing transportation to and from classes. Last year we provided over 12,000 passenger trips and our ridership is growing as our student population grows. Our students deal directly with our Office of Disabilities Services and they educate the students about our transportation rules and regulations.”

John Karakoglou, manager of transit services Dept. of Transportation Services Administration and Public Safety Division
Rutgers University
New Brunswick, N.J.




“WVU offers a paratransit program for students only. Employees have access to the regional bus system’s paratransit service. Our system has been in place since 2006. WVU transports around 3,200 passenger trips per year. We have a travel training program that we conduct in concert with the Office of Student Disabilities. We also conduct training with our paratransit operators in lift and wheelchair securement, first aid, bloodbourne pathogens and disability sensitivity training.”

Hugh E. Kierig, AICP, director, department of transportation and parking
West Virginia University
Morgantown, W.Va.


“OSU receives federal funds to offer fixed-route and paratransit service. The university extends complimentary paratransit service to the community as well as to students, faculty and staff. We wanted to share our benefit with our entire community. One advantage to running a travel training [program] is that in a university setting, most riders are more familiar with using apps and other electronic tools. We offer to train riders to use our mobile app and website, which features real-time arrival information. We also teach riders how to use our printed schedules to access route information, familiarize themselves with our bus stops, board buses and pay fares.”

Tom Duncan, manager – transit services
Oklahoma State University - Stillwater Community Transit
Stillwater, Okla.


“Our paratransit system, MITSPlus, has been in operation since before MITS was actually formed in 1981. MITSPlus provided 62,215 trips in 2011, and we provide travel training.”

Mary Gaston, assistant GM
Muncie Indiana Transit System (Serves Ball State University)
Muncie, Ind.

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