Paratransit services constitute a large industry that provides transportation services to disabled and elderly customers across the country. Demand for these services has been growing since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990 and will continue to grow in the foreseeable future. Rather than adopt a centralized operating strategy, some large transit agencies use decentralized zoning for easier management and better overall reliability (i.e., higher percentage of on-time performance). However, this strategy is inefficient, because a service provider's vehicle is not allowed to pick up customers outside its own service zone. This ban hampers ridesharing and increases the empty trip miles driven. To address this issue, the study reported in this paper explored innovative ADA operating strategies that allowed service providers to serve both trips of cross-zonal customers in need of round trip rides. Three innovative policies were proposed. New algorithms were developed to incorporate the proposed strategies into the insertions heu-ristically. Simulation experiments on the hasis of data in Houston, Texas, and Los Angeles, California, were conducted to quantify the performance improvement over current policy. Results showed that, without sacrifices to customer levels of service, the best of the three policies analyzed could significantly reduce the inefficient empty trip miles by up to 25%. As a result, the policy could save up to 6.8% in assigned vehicles and lower the total mileage by 8%; these results implied a significant savings in operating costs with a reasonable level of service quality maintained.
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