Lehman Center for Transportation Research at Florida International University

Feasibility Study on the Use of Personal GPS Devices in Paratransit

  • Sponsor: Federal Transit Administration
  • Contact: Dr. Fabian Cevallos, (954) 234-4183, fabian.cevallos@fiu.edu
    or Dr. David Shen, (305) 348-1869, shenl@fiu.edu

  • As transit agencies continue to seek ways to improve efficiencies, the availability of new technologies offer innovative solutions. One of these innovative areas is the use of personal GPS devices in paratransit. The uses of these devices are starting to gain momentum in other industries like health, business, travel, and safety and security. However, an application of this technology in public transportation is still in its early stages. More research is needed to determine the feasibility of the use of these devices.

    Paratransit provides transportation alternatives for senior citizens and persons with disabilities. Most transit agencies in the U.S. provide this type of transportation service. Yet the costs of providing this service can be very high. Thus, identifying solutions that can improve paratransit service and reduce costs are expected to be welcome by the transit agencies.

    When we think of GPS devices in transit, we are likely to think in terms of Advanced Public Transportation (APTS) systems like AVL, APCs, or Real-Time Information Systems. However, there are many other opportunities of using GPS devices that are currently available. For instance, other industries like medical (e.g., Lifesaver) or entertainment (e.g., Disney), or safety and security (e.g. Safety and Security Center) are using these devices to keep track of people.

    This research will explore the feasibility of using personal GPS devices to help improve the delivery of a more efficient paratransit service. The idea is to learn more about the technology and its potential applications. With this foundation, transit agencies will be contacted to get a feel for the willingness to adopt this technology, concerns about internal processes and institutional issues, cost and resource allocation, potential technical challenges, and identify the next steps to implement this technology.