Paratransit: the need for a regulatory revolution in the light of institutional inertia

Potter, Stephen and Enoch, Marcus (2016). Paratransit: the need for a regulatory revolution in the light of institutional inertia. In: Mulley, Corinne and Nelson, John eds. Paratransit: shaping the flexible transport future. Transport and Sustainability (8). Bingley: Emerald, pp. 15–34.

Abstract

This chapter begins by defining what is traditionally meant by the term 'paratransit', before exploring why it has remained a relatively niche transport concern. Societal trends have shifted to a pattern of demand that is ill-suited to the system design for conventional public transport. Emerging IT applications offer the potential to introduce a new model of public transport appropriate to the travel needs of the 21st century. Paratransit modes are appealing because they could dynamically match the supply of a service with the level of demand required, unlike conventional models of public transport based on fading historical demand patterns.

But the regulatory environment for the local passenger sector has been built incrementally over many years around the institutional frameworks for buses and taxis. Paratransit alternatives often do not fully fit under any of these categorisations with the result that they often do not have an institutional home and thus either upset the status quo (as with Uber currently) or else are still born.

A redefinition of paratransit is proposed to facilitate a regulatory change to help address the institutional challenges of paratransit innovations

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