Transportation Alternatives (TA) had an interesting background – its first project involved directing the USDOT’s first nationwide study of demand-responsive transportation systems for elderly and disabled individuals, resulting in USDOT’s publishing of a three-volume manual on system design and efficiency in 1980. (An essay summarizing that study may be found on the TA homepage – transalt.com – check out “Principles of Paratransit System Design.”)
Several months ago, TA began authoring a series about effecting deep cost-savings by applying these principles to special education school bus service – also demand-responsive. The current September installment of School Bus Fleet magazine explains how, in a project almost 30 years ago, TA’s paratransit operating company, PTS Transportation, was able to absorb a 16% increase in clients without incurring a dime of additional costs – simply by altering the start-times (not the duration) of the 30 or so programs it was serving in Los Angeles County’s’ San Fernando and Antelope Valleys – saving its social service agency client more than half a million dollars a year in the process. Additional installments will, periodically, present other strategies for effecting significant efficiency improvements by re-arranging the spatial and temporal parameters in a discipline which TA refers to as “System Design” – a lost art since scheduling software assumed this role for most systems in the early 1990s and merely optimizes the chaos from its clients’ failures to properly arrange the spatial and temporal variables of their systems. See the article titled “The Price of Digital Madness” in the August 2001 issue of National Bus Trader magazine.
More information about this subject may be found on TA’s website under the following systems:
- Transportation Planning, System Design and Operations
- Transportation System Design
- Transportation of Special User Groups
- ADA Planning
Interestingly, the failure to observe these principles has not only led to the waste of billions of dollars since the promulgation of the ADA in 1991, but TA’s Expert Witness practices — see Safety Consulting and Expert Witness Services — have found that the causation of virtually ONE HALF of all accidents and incidents stemmed from schedules that are too tight [see “Common Accident and Incident Scenarios”.]