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March 13, 2001
DART Changes Strengthen Paratransit Service
DART hits the road smarter and faster with a new state-of-the-art Paratransit fleet and a new service partner.
The most prominent enhancement to the new Paratransit fleet is an on-board computer that guides the Paratransit operator and his customer on the shortest, most-efficient trip possible. The computer, known as VBS (Vehicle Business Systems), includes a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) navigation system, which creates an interactive on-screen map for the operator. The map and directions are based on current road conditions and can account for possible delays caused by construction detours. In addition, Paratransit dispatchers can track each vehicle at all times and can use the VBS to send operators schedule updates.
"The new VBS computer is revolutionizing service to our Paratransit customers," said Victor Burke, executive vice-president and general manager of operations. "Our operators are now able to know immediately where they need to go and how to get there in the safest and most efficient manner."
The new fleet consists of 100 Paratransit vans and 70 sedans. The vans are equipped with lifts for wheelchairs while the sedans provide a more economical alternative for ambulatory customers.
The new vans have lower-emission diesel engines, unlike the previous vehicles using natural gas, and can make the trip shorter. Vehicles are now able to complete their route without stopping to refuel during the day. "Not only is the trip faster, the elimination of intermediate stops keeps customers safe and comfortable," said Victor Burke.
The new vehicles, assembled on heavy-duty frames, are more durable and powerful. A state-of-the-art suspension system and a new dual heat and air conditioning system provide one of the easiest and most comfortable rides on the road. The new vans can also transport up to eight passengers and three wheelchairs, compared to the five-passenger and two-wheelchair maximum of the previous vehicles. The Ford Taurus sedans provide transportation for up to three customers.
The improved Paratransit fleet accompanies the inaugural year of DART's newest service provider, ATC, which began working with DART January 1. With more than 75 years of experience, ATC has a nationally recognized record of safe, reliable, dependable and efficient transportation. ATC, which will hire, train and develop Paratransit operators, provides Paratransit services in several other cities, including Denver, San Diego and Seattle.
"We value our Paratransit customers and that is why we have taken steps to enhance and improve our services," said Victor Burke. "The steps we've taken in the past several months help us deliver even better service to our customers."
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