Paratransit services fall between the private automobile and the conventional bus. They are flexible and ubiquitous, connecting multiple places within a region, but at a price far below taxis. These services are typically privately owned and operated and fill the gap left by public transit in many cities in the world. Today, paratransit services range from Shared-Ride Taxis, dial-a-ride services, jitneys and commuter vans.


Of all the different forms of commercial paratransit, jitneys probably span the gamut of service operation. They range from delivering point-to-point services similar to a shuttle connection, to those that follow fixed routes and prohibit detours like Miami and Atlantic City , cities with extensive legalized jitney services. Jitney service is typically described as privately owned and operated fixed-route bus service, that does not follow a fixed schedule and can stop anywhere along its route to board passengers. Jitneys are characterized by smaller vehicles that make fewer stops, but circulate more frequently than standard bus service.

Jitneys have operated in the United States since the beginning of the century, but have since been banned in many cities. Today, successful jitney service still exists in cities such as Atlantic City, Miami, and San Diego.

4.1.1 Atlantic City Jitney Association

The Atlantic City Jitney Association has been the backbone of Atlantic City's transportation system for more than 80 years. Each of the Association's 190 buses is individually owned and operated and can only be driven by the owner. Owners must have a commercial driver's license and be a member of the Atlantic Jitney Association, a self-regulated organization with its own internal rules of operation. All drivers are required to pay a monthly membership fee, which pays for administrative expenses.

The Association performs multiple functions. First, it organizes services to ensure high efficiency while complying with municipal requirements. The major requirements include continual jitney services and that at least 10 jitneys operate on Pacific Avenue, a major Atlantic City street. Second, the Association advocates and promotes the interests of its membership, particularly in matters related to price and service provisions. Third, it provides jitney stations and garages, routine maintenance service, insurance etc. last, it maintains a strict code of conduct, sets operating standards, runs its own traffic court, and serves as the arbiter of driver disputes.

Jitneys operate 24 hours per day, 365 days per year for a cash fare of $1.50 per ride. There are 190 buses. Regular riders can receive a discounted fare of $1.25 and senior citizens' fare is $0.50. Jitneys have carried between 6.7 and 7.3 million riders annually in the last three years. Of these, 41 percent are workers and 59 percent are tourists and residents.

According to the Association, New Jersey has recently approved a grant for $12.5 million to be used for the rehabilitation of the old fleet Owners will be able to trade in their current buses for the updated model under an agreement that they shuttle a total of 2.6 million riders, free of charge, over the next four years from the Atlantic City train station to the downtown area.

The deregulation allowed drivers to charge high fares and target tourists unaccustomed to the local taxi service. As a result, San Diego instituted fare ceilings for the service. Complaints from the local hospitality

4.1.2 Miami

In contrast to Atlantic City, Miami's jitney service is in direct competition with subsidized public transit. The origin of these services can be traced to the pre-World War II when entrepreneurs began serving Iow-income neighborhoods located beyond the reach of streetcars. These entrepreneurs took advantage of Florida's 1989 statute prohibiting local governments from regulating private passenger motor carriers engaged in intercity transportation.

From 1990 to 1992, unlicensed jitneys proliferated in the city. They were charging a fare equivalent to Metrobus ($1.00) and operating only on profitable routes and gained sharp criticism from Metrobus. Recognizing the impact of intercity transit on public transit services, the Florida legislature passed an amendment in 1990 limiting the statutory exemption to “intercounty” transportation and began to prosecute illegal jitney operations.

The county's enforcement campaign, however, was largely unsuccessful. It forced some marginal operations out of the business, but on the whole the jitney operation continued to thrive. In 1992 jitneys carried an average of 110-125 passengers per vehicle per day, and the jitney fleet as a whole, consisting of nearly 400 vehicles, carried an estimated 43,000-49,000 riders per weekday. In 1992 this represented approximately 23­27 percent of the weekday Metrobus ridership of 183,000, and 18-20 percent of weekday public transit system ridership (Metrobus, Metrorail, Metromover and Paratransit) of 244,000.

Studies indicate that jitneys averaged fewer passengers per vehicle but were far more economical than Metrobus services. At an average operating cost of $73 per vehicle per day, jitneys cost a fraction of what it took to operate a Metrobus. In terms of profitability, jitneys operated on a profit of approximately 40 cents per rider, compared to a loss of over a dollar per passenger for Metrobus. Competition kept jitney costs lower, and labor, equipment, overhead were cheaper for jitneys.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, jitneys became a source of emergency transportation to those Miami residents who were left dislocated without a car. A $46 million grant enabled the city to hire four contractors who in turn recruited more than 200 jitney operators to provide service at a rate of $15 to $21 per hour. Officials worked closely with operators to ensure that they were in compliance with safety regulations and met insurance requirements, and within two weeks jitneys were operating 12 fixed routes in Dade County free of charge. Having grown accustomed to guaranteed pay at about $21 per hour, few jitneys were interested in providing services without subsidy after relief funds were expended.

Today, 13 companies operate legitimate jitney service along 21 routes. Vehicles must be properly licensed, have insurance coverage and carry no more than 15 passengers. Operators must commit to certain hours of operation and must not duplicate the Metrobus route by more than 30 percent.

4.1.3 San Ysidro Border Jitneys

In 1979 the City of San Diego passed an ordinance legalizing its jitney services and deregulated its taxi industry . The ordinance allowed fixed route jitneys seating up to 15 passengers and placed no restrictions on fares except that they were posted in two-inch letters in the front window of the jitney. Between 1979 and 1983, there were 100 vehicles seIVing nearly 15,000 weekly customers. Services operated on streets paralleling the city's main bus routes. The jitney routes concentrated on commercial strips, military bases and the tourist's spots, and transported people from the downtown to the airport at a price that was one-fourth the price of a taxi cab.

The deregulation allowed drivers to charge high fares and target tourists unaccustomed to the local taxi service. As a result, San Diego instituted fare ceilings for the service. Complaints from the local hospitality



industry in the late 1980s resulted in San Diego's officials suspending the issuance of new jitney licenses and regulating what was once the most unrestricted, deregulated taxi market in the country . The heightened regulation together with increased competition of subsidized providers and the closure of numerous military bases led to the demise of the jitney market. Today, only ten licensed jitney operations, running 14 buses, are servicing the San Diego Area.

Currently, all ten of the jitney operators servicing San Diego operate in the San Ysidro border area and are regulated by the Taxicab Administration within the Metropolitan Transit Development Board (MTDB). Drivers must pass a background check and have no prior violation in order to be eligible for a license. Operators must file their fixed route and fare with the Taxicab Administration and have their own vehicles inspected twice a year.

All of the currently registered routes begin at the border and make a six-mile loop picking up and dropping off passengers at bus stops and curb-side along the route. The city allows operators to set up preset stops along their routes if they seem feasible and the operator pays for the installation of jitney stop signs. Most jitneys were once used by rental car agencies or by airport shuttle services and are 5 to 12 years old. They are permitted to queue at the border area for a maximum of 15 minutes or until their van is full. Fares of $1.00 are cheaper than the $1.50 fare charged by both the San Diego Trolley and the city bus.


Smart Shuttle is a form of transit that utilizes intelligent transportation systems (ITS) to provide services tailored to the needs of individual riders. Using Automatic Vehicle Location (AVl) technologies. Smart Shuttle could substantially increase the efficiency of a privately operated transit service, thereby eliminating or substantially reducing public subsidy.

After ten months of operation, the West Valley Smart Shuttle is transporting over 1200 people per day to and from locations throughout a 55 square mile section of the western San Fernando Valley in Southern California. Sixteen new, 18-passenger, air-conditioned, wheelchair accessible vans use AVl technologies to provide curb-to-curb public transportation for all residents of the western San Fernando Valley. Residents can ride the vehicles either by making a telephone reservation two hours in advance or by boarding the shuttle at one its regular stops.

The shuttle operates Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. One way fares on Smart Shuttle range between $1.00 and $4.00 depending on the distance traveled and the type of trip requested. MT A monthly pass holders receive a discount on Smart Shuttle fares.

The West Valley Smart Shuttle program is funded by a grant from the MTA with the purpose of testing new ways to deliver public transportation in areas traditionally 'under-served' by existing transit services. The program is jointly sponsored by Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), MTA and the Southern California Association of Government (SCAG).

A cost comparison between the Smart Shuttle and MTA's fixed-route transit service in the area indicates that the cost per passenger for Smart Shuttle is $2.65 compared to $5 for MTA services on the same route. But in spite of cost savings, the program is .not running efficiently . lack of coordination among the various sponsoring agencies has resulted in inefficient service. At present, Smart Shuttles compete with MTA fixed­-route services, and ADA dial-a-ride services in the same area when the whole purpose of the service is to serve markets not covered by public transit. According to Smart Shuttle program administrators, the service needs to be more flexible, and use smaller coaches. It is too early to determine the effectiveness of a Smart Shuttle program. A significant barrier to a Smart Shuttle program is the required capital investment for dispatching and monitoring equipment.