THE TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT/TRANSIT DIVISION RECOMMEND APPROVAL OF THE ABOVE MOTION.
This item supports the Board's values of "Cooperatively delivering an efficient and accessible regional intermodal transportation network" and "Consistently delivering responsive, efficient, quality services to the public and internal customers."
On April 4, 2017, Item 45, the Board approved the creation of the Paratransit Rider’s Choice Pilot Program. The program was intended to provide an additional transportation choice for up to 150 eligible customers to complement their existing Paratransit services by providing a subsidy to utilize a taxi company or licensed transportation network provider of choice to arrange their trip. It was determined that the subsidy would be provided via a payment card issued to a participant.
At its December 12, 2017 meeting, the Board approved a motion to authorize the County Administrator to execute an agreement, prepared and approved by the Office of the County Attorney, for payment card services with CabConnect, Inc. for the Transit Division’s Paratransit Item Rider’s Choice Pilot Program to begin in January 2018. The Contract with Cabconnect was executed on January 18, 2018.
In December 2017, BCT staff mailed invitations to 425 TOPS customers with the highest paratransit ridership who would best be able to utilize this service. Enrollment was slower than expected, as only 61 customers responded to the initial invitations. The Pilot went live on February 4, 2018. Staff followed up multiple times with invited customers resulting in an increased enrollment of 99 customers by the end of March 2018. Paratransit staff decided to target specific groups of customers, resulting in additional enrollment and, more importantly, in ridership. Ultimately, 144 of the 150 originally planned participants enrolled in the program.
Of the 144 enrolled participants, 91 have taken at total of 5,211 trips under the Rider’s Choice Program. Monthly trips have steadily increased from an average of 460 trips per month over the first seven months of the program, to 612 trips in October, increasing to 736 in November, and 810 trips in December. 53 customers were provided the payment card, but have not taken a trip.
The 91 program participants reduced their paratransit (TOPS) trips by 3,866 trips during the Pilot program. The average trip cost in the Pilot was $13.16, compared to the TOPS system average cost of $28 per trip. The Pilot Program provided 5,211 trips to the participants at a total cost of $68,677. As a result, the Pilot provided 1,345 more trips at a savings of $39,671 over the regular TOPS program.
In summary, the Pilot Rider’s Choice Program successfully provided increased user convenience and more trips at a lower cost than the existing TOPS program. In addition, the Pilot Program provided 5,211 trips to the taxi industry. As a result, staff recommends that the Rider’s Choice Program be continued for one additional year. This will allow staff to enhance the program by implementing the following improvements:
1. Expand program enrollment by removing the 150 person limit.
2. Increase the per trip subsidy from $15.00 to $18.00 per trip.
3. Evaluate the feasibility of using the Cabconnect payment card system to collect paratransit fares to provide an alternative to paying by cash.