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Research Projects (2002-03)

Identifying Number


Project Title

Affordable Trip Feasibility Scheduling for Rural Paratransit Systems


University of Utah

Project Investigator

William Grenney
Utah State University
Logan, UT

External Project Contact


Project Objective

The objective of this research is to develop an affordable computer-based methodology to assist rural paratransit dispatchers improve their efficiency and scheduling trips.

Project Abstract

McGrane, Grenney and Johnson1 summarized the need of small to medium size paratransit agencies (2 to 50 vehicles) for software to assist with their reservations, scheduling, dispatching, record keeping, and reporting responsibilities. The developers also recognized that these agencies worked under certain constraints, paramount among which are:

  • Small budgets
  • Rural or small city settings (poor internet connectivity, spotty communications, etc.)
  • Lack of information systems (IS) experts on staff or even readily available.
  • Office staff not skilled in computer use.
  • Office staff not trained in paratransit operations.
  • Reliance on volunteers and Privately Owned Vehicles (POVs).
  • Variations in reporting requirements (desires) among states and even among agencies within a state.

Task Descriptions

  • Task 1 – Obtain GIS data for a rural community paratransit agency that includes trips within a city as well as trips between cities.
  • Task 2 – Geocode the addresses and implement a hierarchy of geographical discrimination for the area.
  • Task 3 – Develop algorithms for computer assisted scheduling and implement a prototype system with the paratransit agency.
  • Task 4 – Prepare a final report comparing the practicality of computer assisted scheduling at various levels and the cost and complexity at each level

Milestones, Dates

  • Starting Date: July 1, 2002
  • Project Milestones:
  • Ending Date: June 30, 2003

Yearly and Total Budget

Year 1 $55,000
Year 2 $55,000

Student Involvement

One MS student thesis.

Relationship to Other Research Projects

This research is consistent with on-going efforts to assist rural paratransit agencies.

Technology Transfer Activities

The principal investigator is a member of the Utah T-Square Center Advisory Board, and plans to use the T-Square network in Utah to identify the needs of small to medium sized communities. During Phase II, the same contacts will be used for testing and evaluation.

Potential Benefits of the Project

This research will enhance our understanding of the capability for affordable and relatively simple computer models to assist with paratransit scheduling and dispatching in rural areas.

TRB Keywords

Rural transit, paratransit scheduling

NDSU Dept 2880P.O. Box 6050Fargo, ND 58108-6050