This year, the Brookings Institution published an article showing that transit agencies could save money by partnering with transportation network companies (TNCs) to provide demand response (DR) service for people with disabilities instead of using paratransit service to do it.
Brookings is not the first --- and will not be the last --- to present this kind of inaccurate and shallow “study” as independent research. ATU responded with its own paper that relies on independent third-party data and real-world experiences to illustrate that using TNC’s only made the challenges of paratransit service worse.
DR service is not a relic of the old economy waiting to be disrupted. It provides independence for people with disabilities. It should be operated to ensure transit access for all; not to earn private profits. The best role that TNCs could play in improving paratransit is to assist agencies in developing their own 21st-century scheduling and dispatch software, but should not be here to take over.
A transit agency’s mission is not to “improve their budgets” by outsourcing their responsibilities and segregating their services, as Brookings suggests. The mission of a transit agency is to provide high-quality service for their riders, while providing the wages and working conditions necessary to train and retain professional, career-path employees. Further, where resources for these priorities are lacking, transit agencies should be advocating alongside riders and workers for more funding.