Peninsula Transportation District Commission Route Deviation Feasibility Study

Report No: 99-R11

Published in 1998

About the report:

Many urban transit providers are faced with the problem of declining ridership on traditional fixed route services in low density suburban areas. As a result, most fixed route services in such areas are not economically viable for the transit provider. Ridership levels on such routes could be increased by adding more flexibility to the fixed route structure by replacing the fixed route with a route deviation service. The higher level of service offered by route deviation has the potential to attract non-traditional transit riders. Another reason why transit providers are turning to route deviation is the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, which has brought forth new and greater responsibilities for transit agencies. With the law mandating that certain disabled persons must be provided complementary paratransit service at a nominal cost, public transportation providers were suddenly faced with the challenge of providing traditional fixed-route transit service while also serving individuals with disabilities. There are three categories of paratransit-eligible riders under the ADA: 1. Those who cannot independently board, ride, disembark from accessible vehicles. 2. Those who can independently board and ride an accessible bus but an accessible vehicle is not available for the route and time desired. 3. Those who have a specific impairment that prevent them from boarding or riding a bus. ADA requires that only the first of the three categories be provided service, and only if they want to travel within 3/4 mile of an existing fixed route. To accomplish this, around 550 fixed route systems across the nation have increased or added the availability of paratransit services (Balog, 1997). Consequently, there has been a notable and steady increase in the demand for paratransit by disabled people in the post-ADA era. Since the cost of providing accessible paratransit is definitely higher than the cost of accessible fixed route, the increased demand for paratransit is burdening transit agencies (Balog, 1997). Also, some individuals with disabilities currently using paratransit services could effectively use accessible fixed route services at a lower cost to the transit provider. This has led a number of transit providers to look for new options to encourage paratransit riders to use fixed route services. Most of these options are centered on improving the level of service of fixed route operations and making them more accessible to individuals with disabilities (Balog, 1997). One such option that has been tried by a few transit agencies in rural and suburban areas, with much success, is route deviation service. Route deviation has the potential to meet the challenges faced by urban public transportation providers in a more efficient manner than the current two service practice. Route deviation transit has been used effectively in a limited number of rural and small urban areas of the United States (Rosenbloom, 1996) and some suburban areas. However, it has not been proven to be effective in a large urban area. Currently, the Peninsula Transportation District Commission (Pentran) operates a fixed-route bus system with 13 routes in a service area composed of the cities of Hampton, Newport News and York County. Additionally, Pentran provides paratransit services for the disabled under the mandates of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • Priya K. Durvasula, Brian L. Smith, Rod E. Turochy, Stephen C. Brich, Michael J. Demetsky, Ph.D.

Last updated: December 12, 2023

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