Publication Detail

Innovative Transportation Systems and Services for the Elderly and the Disabled: A Prototype Experiment


Research Report

Suggested Citation:
Klaver, Kelley, Wan-Hui Chen, Prasuna D. Reddy, Kenneth S. Kurani, Rochelle Uwaine, Paul P. Jovanis (1996) Innovative Transportation Systems and Services for the Elderly and the Disabled: A Prototype Experiment. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-96-09

Many senior citizens and persons with mobility impairments are faced with transportation limitations that reduce their ability to make desired trips. Although there is an increased awareness for improving the mobility of transit and highway travelers through Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), there has been a lack of work at the national level on ITS and the special needs community. The elderly and disabled constitute an increasingly important segment of the population. People with special needs differ considerably from one another in the types of disabilities or health problems they have, the severity of their disabilities, their physical capabilities or limitations, and their attitudes toward and their willingness to overcome the effects of their physical conditions. These physical differences result in a range of transportation needs and mobility problems. There will not be a single effective advanced technology that can address all of these problems. Rather, different solutions will have to be developed, each one tailored to the special needs of a distinct group within the elderly and disabled population. The problem is to identify a manageable number of meaningful groups and test their acceptance of advanced technological systems, so that effective solutions to the unique problems of each group can be designed and implemented. This study will develop, evaluate, and test different advanced technology systems to determine if these systems could help special needs travelers meet their travel needs. The interaction between the people and the proposed systems, how they will learn to use them, devise rules for travel planning, and how all these relate to travel demand and effectiveness, will be investigated. An extensive literature review will help researchers assess the travel demands of the elderly and disabled and identify different advanced technologies which are used or have the potential of being used to help meet those travel demands. A broad scale survey of special needs travelers will better link these travel needs to available new technologies.

This report focuses specifically on the initial development of several advanced information technologies and transportation services and the laboratory experiments conducted to test the systems. The three advanced information systems discussed in this report are: 1) an interactive kiosk information system, 2) an actuated on-board information system, and 3) an interactive in-home information system. Further, besides paratransit, two innovative transportation services discussed in this report are real-time paratransit and real-time ridesharing. All of the technologies explored in the experiments are being explored in operational tests or field deployments; however, their implications for special needs travelers are largely unknown. In addition to the survey mentioned in the previous paragraph, these laboratory experiments are intended to clarify special needs travelers' perceptions of ITS services and their implications for mobility. These experiments particularly seek to place the traveler in a familiar situation and determine if ITS technologies can be of assistance. Details of the design of the interfaces and systems are explored along with the services and travel niches that the systems seek to serve. The objective is to provide guidance on both system design and service design as perceived by special needs travelers. The surveys are being conducted simultaneously and will be described in another report.