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Simplifying the complexity of passenger payments, donations and ride accounting

Simplifying the complexity of passenger payments, donations and ride accounting

With the passing of the American Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill in 2022, funding options for elderly, special needs, and disabled transportation programs have increased considerably for volunteer driver programs, Demand Response, Para-transit, and local community transportation programs. Although the exact distribution and management of those funds are still being worked out by the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) it is getting clear that any grants or funding provided to programs will need to have reporting requirements showing improvements and enhancements in their services and economics. These requirements would include how the ride fee is calculated, how the ride fee is eventually paid by the funding sources, and how to manage improvements in service economics.

Here are a couple of examples of some of the complexity of ride fees and payment systems that can be encountered:  

  1. How to calculate ride fees: calculating ride fees can be very personalized to the community or passenger being served. For example, pickup charges, per-mile charges, flat fee charges, and minimum charges are all part of the fundamental structure of any ride fees. Other options would include fixed fees from one zip code to another, time-of-day fees (for example Saturday after 6 pm), per distance charges (for example 0-10 miles would be one rate, 10-20 miles another rate), passenger-specific charges and various route categories (for example adding unloading miles). SPEDSTA’s Ride accounting software allows all such customizations for a rate to be applied to any passenger or community. 
  2. How to pay for a ride: in most cases, how a given passenger’s ride is paid can be very complex – from one grant paying 20% of the ride, the passenger paying 50% and the remainder being funded by an FTA program. In addition to this, a particular passenger may qualify for discounts or just be asked for donations to cover their ride. SPEDSTA’s comprehensive ride accounting system includes automated ride calculations and invoicing for that ride. In addition, printable invoices and emails that can be customized can be sent to any stakeholder to keep them apprised of payments and donations. Passengers can also pay with check, cash, vouchers, and pre-paid cards or pay via credit card with our credit card processing capability.
  3. How to track and report on payments: sometimes a passenger may be using various means of payments to cover the expenses of the ride. Using a system to track those payment types and also keep track of rides being taken can help manage any exceptions, cancellations, or disputes that might occur. With those ride payments, a way to report on those rides is also important to provide to donors, grant providers, or board management. SPEDSTA includes several tools in this area to make sure things are consistently recorded and tracked over any given period and on demand.

A one-size-fits-all approach for ride payments and fees rarely works for organizations providing rides for the elderly, special needs, and disabled population. Having the ability to have flexible options and customizations to suit the needs of how the community of passengers can pay is key to having a successful program. Contact us at SPEDSTA to see how we can help!