Paratransit Acronyms, Terms, and Jargon, Oh My!

Every industry will have its jargon, and public transit certainly has its share – plus a deep commitment to acronyms. We have collected a list of the most common buzzwords and acronyms for new employees in the Paratransit space (or anyone looking for a brush-up).

ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)

The Americans with Disabilities Act – the ADA is a civil rights law passed in 1990 prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities. The law established the requirement that public transit agencies provide “complementary paratransit” as a service entitled to riders as a civil right. This legislation set forth requirements and guidance on the minimum requirements of how, where, when, and the costs for Paratransit services.

DRT (Demand Responsive Transportation)

DRT is a catch-all term that refers to an array of transportation services, including paratransit, microtransit, and others, that are designed to respond when summoned by a passenger. Think of it like this, unlike fixed-route transit, which runs on pre-set routes and schedules, DRT is designed to provide trips between the pick-up and drop-off locations set by or associated with riders, and at the times requested by customers.


Microtransit typically refers to an app-based, shared-ride, demand-response transportation service that operates in a small service area. Microtransit services are often used to link areas that are not well served by fixed-route transit services with a transit network. For example: a microtransit system might be used to connect a small suburban community to a rail station with high-frequency train service to the downtown business district.

MOD (Mobility-on-Demand)

MOD is more a concept embodied by an array of transit products. The idea is a transportation product or service that allows people to travel with little or no advanced notice. Examples of MOD can include anything from a scooter rental, to microtransit, to a rideshare service.

NDSP (Non-Dedicated Service Provider)

Yikes! What a mouthful.

Understanding the meaning of NDSP is easier if one understands the meaning of a Dedicated Service Provider, A Dedicated Service Provider is a transportation provider for whom the vehicles and drivers are dedicated to provide service specifically for a transportation program. The vehicles are typically controlled by a single company or a subcontracted management company. In an NDSP, like a TNC (see below), the ownership and control of the vehicles is typically outside of the transportation program and that fleet can be used for other uses and programs.

NEMT (Non-Emergency Medical Transportation)

NEMT typically refers to transportation connected with non-emergency medical services, such as doctor appointments, treatments, visits to a pharmacy, etc. for patients who are unable to drive. It is very often associated with Medicaid beneficiaries. If it is a transportation service to or from a medical facility or a pharmacy, and if it’s not in the back of an ambulance, it’s often any NEMT.

OTP  (On-Time Performance)

On-Time Performance is an industry standard for benchmarking the quality of a transportation service. By measuring the rate of on-time arrivals within a set window, before and after the scheduled service, public transit officials can measure the efficacy and quality of their program.

AOTP (Appointment On-Time Performance)

This measures how on-time a trip is relative to the time the rider needs to be dropped off for an appointment where a program enables a rider to book an “appointment” trip that specifies when the rider must arrive at a location.


In Greek, “Para” means “alongside,” so paratransit means alongside transit. In North America paratransit refers to prescheduled, shared-ride transportation services that are typically government-funded and provide for individuals who are unable, because of a disability or disabling health condition, to independently use conventional fixed-route bus and rail services.


The colloquial term: is often used to describe a Transportation Network Company (see below). In the world of public transportation, ridesharing or “ride-sharing” is defined as, “the practice of sharing rides or transportation, especially by commuters, typically in the form of carpooling and vanpooling.” This can be formal programs (often with “ride matching programs” or informal or loosely organized carpooling.


A more ‘wonky’ industry term to describe the same type of services offered by TNCs. Specifically, ride-hailing refers to the process of requesting, or hailing, a ride through a cloud-based app. This could be a traditional Taxi or a TNC such as UZURV.

TNC (Transportation Network Company)

Transportation Network Company –TNCs utilize cloud-based software and mobile applications to create a web of drivers offering transportation to individual riders typically using their own vehicles as independent contractors. 

WAV (Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle)

Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle/Van – WAVs are a form of specialty vehicle that are manufactured or modified to allow for the space, ease of entry, and safe transport of wheelchair users.

Looking for more resources on common transit Industry vocabulary?

Check out APTA’s glossary.