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Paratransit as a demand responsive service

Paratransit is a public transport mode ranging from taxi services up to bus lines. It is highly demand responsive and can be distinguished from DRT systems by the absence of a centralized controller. Instead, paratransit offers trips on relations where the demand has sufficient willingness to pay; relations with insufficient demand will cease operation.

Most paratransit operators are organized as so-called route associations. They consist of up to several hundred individual drivers with their vehicles. The most common vehicle is some sort of minibus, normally an 8-15 seater.

What most paratransit services have in common is the absence of a fixed schedule and fixed stops. Operation times depend on the demand and can concentrate on peak-hours only, but may also contain services in slack periods when offered the right price. Stops are normally situated wherever needed, e.g. curbs, intersections, bus bays of the formal bus systems.

Paratransit systems with less demand operate akin to taxi services. With higher demand, again, operators tend to operate along corridors, which can be seen as transit lines. One corridor may be operated by one route association, but often different operators may run a head-to-head competition. This competition can include services of a formal bus operator as well. Individual vehicles of one operator may make a detour when asked, in order to deliver passengers to their destination’s front-door.

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