The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board announced in late Oct. that it had signed new contracts, expanding the pool of brokers and private companies that in turn engage Taxi and For-Hire Vehicle (FHV) drivers to provide paratransit services. The goal is to increase the availability of wheelchair accessible vehicles while reducing costs and improving reliability.

The new contracts are expected to save the MTA up to $85 million over three years while improving service reliability by adding incentives for on-time performance. As an incentive, brokers will receive 1% of the value of the trip for trips that exceed a 94% on-time performance threshold.

The weighted average cost per trip for broker service under the new contracts will be $31 per trip, compared with the previous price of $34, possibly providing savings of up to $50.5 million for the three-year base term. Increasing the proportion of broker trips compared to dedicated trips, as the MTA seeks to do, will result in additional savings ranging from $30 million to $35 million during that period.

The MTA uses a mix of a dedicated and non-dedicated fleet of vehicles for paratransit service and says non-dedicated trips cost significantly less than dedicated trips, saving taxpayers tens of millions of dollars per year. Brokers, bases, and operators bear the cost of maintenance and facilities and offer access to a larger vehicle fleet to perform a high volume of trips.

Demand for paratransit trips skyrocketed in the city, from approximately 20,000 per day in 2008 to more than 30,000. Non-dedicated trips currently make up about 70% of total paratransit trips, according to the MTA.

Source: Mass Transit

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