Paratransit Business Idea
You may find that you can combine your love of driving with serving the needs of the elderly and disabled when you start a paratransit business.
This venture involves picking up special-needs individuals from their homes or other locations, assisting them into the vehicle, and safely driving them to their destination. Of course, you will usually be required to provide them with a ride in the other direction as well.
This sector of the population is expected to remain stable or grow as the average age of American citizens continues to increase. Because many of these customers can’t drive or afford handicap-enabled vehicles of their own, they will rely on your services for transportation.
Start A Paratransit Business – What To Do First
When you start a paratransit business, your office location will have little impact on your level of business. Take advantage of this by choosing a location that provides ample space for the price. You will need room to house several large vans as well as office space for your dispatcher.
At least one wheelchair-accessible van is required to start your new business. While it doesn’t have to be brand new, you should make sure that it is clean and in prime condition. It will need a wheelchair lift and equipment to safely secure the chair inside the van.
Before you start a paratransit business, call your state’s division of motor vehicles (DMV) to find out if they have special requirements to transport handicapped people. At a very minimum, you will need a chauffeur’s license that allows you to drive passengers.
Depending on your area, you may also need a taxi license. Keep in mind that many areas regulate the rates of taxi drivers. If this is the case in your location , you should check to see if there is an exception for paratransit driving services.
You may be able to charge slightly higher rates as compensation for additional equipment and time requirements. Some of your customers may be able to claim their paratransit expenses on their health insurance. If this is a possibility, check with the major insurance providers in your area to make sure that you meet all the requirements to become an approved transit service.
Keys To Paratransit Success
Treat your clients with the utmost respect and care, while providing service at a fair price, to guarantee your success. Once a special-needs customer develops a relationship with a driver, they will be more likely to request their services in the future.
They will tell all of their friends and acquaintances about the great ride that they received from your company. On the other hand, if they are made to feel uncomfortable or unsafe, they will dread a trip provided by your paratransit business and look for any other possible alternatives.
To find customers when you start a paratransit business, create flyers to distribute at local doctor’s offices, retirement homes, and hospitals. Remember that many of your potential customers may be strapped for cash. A healthy discount offer, or even a frequent-customer discount card, will attract many new riders.
Create your own website and make sure that you are included on any local sites that list taxi services. Because you are not in direct competition with local cab companies, get to know the owners and dispatchers. Let them know about your services. Ask them to refer customers to you when they can’t service a specific customer, and offer to return the favor. Many of your customers will only suffer temporary disabilities that can be corrected through treatment.
At some point in the future, you may be interested in expanding your paratransit business. The obvious choice is to purchase new vans and hire extra drivers. You could also open an additional office in a neighboring town. Alternative options include outfitting personal vehicles with wheelchair lifts or training paratransit drivers for other companies.