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Research Project

ADA Special Services: Price Elasticity for the Provision of Free Service In the State of Illinois

The purpose of this study is to estimate the fare elasticity from the reduction in ADA Special Services Paratransit fare from the present levels (suburban Cook and DuPage $3.00, Lake, Kane, McHenry and Will $2.50, city of Chicago $2.25, and various downstate fares – see Appendix Table B3) to a free fare.

Principal Investigator
DiJohn, Joseph
Research Area(s)
Data Development
Demand Response
Policy Analysis
Funding Source
Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT)


The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) created a requirement for complementary paratransit service for all public transit agencies that provide fixed-route service. Complementary paratransit service is intended to complement the fixed route service and serve individuals who, because of their disabilities, are unable to use the fixed-route transit system. The service must operate on the same days and times of service within 3/4 mile of the fixed route and fares cannot exceed twice the base adult fare. In fulfilling their ADA obligations, transit operators have a responsibility to consider current and probable future demand for complementary paratransit service and to plan and budget to meet all of the expected demand (TCRP Report 119, 2007). A number of methods have been proposed to estimate such paratransit demand and will be discussed in this review along with their assumptions.

Instituting a free fare for ADA complementary paratransit service in the state Illinois will increase the demand and the associated costs of providing the specialized service. The purpose of this study is to estimate the increased demand by modeling fare elasticity and using previous industry experience. Using the UIC/UTC model resulted in an estimated average increase in annual ADA trips between 71% and 95% in the Chicago area. The range in estimated annual ADA trips increase at a 90% confidence level would be between 37% and 135%. The ranges vary in Chicago, suburbs and downstate based on their fare elasticity. Given previous industry free ride experiments, the latent demand exhibited by the large number of disabled persons living within ¾ mile of a fixed route and the expected diversion of wheelchair riders currently using fixed routes, we believe it is not unreasonable to expect increases in ridership approaching 100%. Download the "ADA Special Services: Price Elasticity for the Provision of Free Service In the State of Illinois" study.