What is travel training?

Travel training, or mobility training as it is sometimes called, is teaching those who are eligible for the program how to ride public transportation. Travel training programs are used to train seniors and/or those with disabilities how to use fixed route transit and light rail so that they are not completely dependent upon paratransit services.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that seniors and those with disabilities have access to specialized paratransit transportation services if they are prevented by their disability from using public transportation. But the Act also makes it clear that the regular fixed-route public transit is the best option whenever possible. However, for many, learning to use public transit presents a huge obstacle. That’s where travel training makes all the difference.

How does it work?
Travel training programs can be adapted to meet every community’s needs. The funding source of the program may determine which populations are eligible – seniors, and/or those with physical or cognitive disabilities.

Group Instruction
Trainers work with eligible groups through senior centers, assisted living residences, programs for the disabled, and more. Training can include lessons in how to read a schedule, planning a trip, paying the fare, using accessibility features, and taking actual rides on the bus. This type of training tends to focus on general orientation for the entire transit system.

Individualized Instruction
Eligible participants are referred by transit and human service agencies, or they contact the program directly. A travel trainer meets with the participant to get acquainted and assess his/her abilities and transportation needs. The trainer develops a training program to meet those specific needs. For a trainee with a mobility device, the first lesson might be a trip to the bus barn to learn how to use the lift on the bus. Other lessons are learning how to read a schedule, planning their route, finding bus stops, and riding the bus. Training is completed when participants have demonstrated that they are able to safely ride the bus on their own.

Some travel training programs offer different levels of instruction. Basic individual instruction, which usually consists of up to ten hours, is often what is needed for seniors who are transitioning from driving a car of their own and just need to learn the ropes of riding public transportation. Many older adults have never ridden modern buses and are unaware of features such as low-floors, ramps, lifts and even air conditioning. Their fear of using public transit can be overcome by working with the trainer to learn how easy it is to plan their own trips and ride the bus. The trainer will assist them until they are comfortable riding independently.

For people who have disabilities, intensive training of up to 30 hours may be required. Often participants with disabilities need to learn how to get to a job or a regular destination. The trainer will ride the bus or train with them, practicing the route, until the participant can travel without assistance.

Travel training can be for one specific route (to and from an adult day program) or for the entire public transit system. It can encompass all modes of transportation including bus, light rail, and ferries.

For more information, contact Phil McGuire.

Related topics

Travel training

In-person eligibility assessment

Travel training options

Benefits of travel training

Our team

Current travel training projects

What our travel training clients say about us

Success stories


Former Clients/Projects

San Bernardino Urbanized Area Consolidated Transportation Services Agency, CA (2009-2016)

Solano County Transportation Commission | Solano County, CA Served as Executive Director of new Joint Powers Authority (JPA), created new transit agency for Solano County, the City of Vallejo and the City of Benicia (2009)

Amador County Transportation Commission (ACTC), California Prepared Human Services Coordination Plan under contract to Caltrans (2008-2009)

Alpine County, California Prepared Human Services Coordination Plan under contract to Caltrans (2008)  

Colusa County Transit Agency, California Prepared Human Services Coordination Plan under contract to Caltrans (2008)   

El Dorado County, California Prepared Human Services Coordination Plan under contract to Caltrans, (2008)

Gold County Telecare, California Served Interim Executive Director (2008)

Eastern Sierra Transit Authority (ESTA), California Prepared Human Services Coordination Plan, served as Interim Executive Director (2007-2008)

San Luis Obispo Council of Government, California Prepared Short Range Transit Plan for CTSA (Ride-On Transportation) (2006)

Senior Services of Snohomish County, Washington Interim Transportation Department Director; guided preparation of proposal for paratransit vendor contract on two occasions (2006)

Hopelink/Washington State Medicaid Brokerage, Washington Assisted with various projects associated with the operation of the Medicaid brokerage, including proposal development for the State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), managed vendor selection process, developed vendor monitoring program (1996-2003)

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) | Boston, MA

Current Projects

Current Clients/Projects

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) | Boston, MA

  • Creation, implementation and management of THE RIDE Eligibility Center (2012-present)

Stanislaus Council of Governments (StanCOG) | Stanislaus County, CA

  • Establish and implement CTSA (mobility management center), create and manage coordinated projects (2010-present)

State of Hawaii Department of Transportation | State of Hawaii

  • Prepare Human Services Coordination Plan (2010-present)

City and County of Honolulu | Honolulu, HI

  • Serve as advisor to the City and County of Honolulu for its Mobility Management Center, establish a number of demonstration projects, assist the City with grant management tasks and implement travel training programs (2010-present)
  • Restructure and manage ADA Paratransit Eligibility Assessment and Travel Training Center, serve as Project Manager, oversee operations (2009-present)
  • Prepare Human Service Coordination Plan, and develop and manage coordination demonstration projects (2008-present)

San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD) | San Joaquin County, CA

  • Examine and analyze factors leading to the designation of a CTSA in the Stockton, CA metropolitan area, community outreach involved interviews with local human service agencies as well as government officials, mobility management workshops, budget analyses of project models and implementation timelines have also been developed.
    San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD), California (2008-present)

Spokane Transit Authority | Spokane, WA

  • Implemented and mange the ADA Paratransit Eligibility Assessment and Travel Training Center, serve as Project Manager, oversee operations (2006-present)

Projects & Clients

We Are Proud of Our Projects 

Innovative Paradigms is proud of the projects on which it works and in every situation the team provides clients with dedicated, focused services.
Working with a wide range of clients, Innovative Paradigms moves transportation coordination forward by preparing individualized plans, building community support, establishing partnerships, and implementing programs – in every case, geared to the unique needs of the client.

The relationships the Innovative Paradigms Team has with its clients are built on thorough, on-going communication as well as respect and a deep sense of collaboration.



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