The situation of paratransit users in Switzerland
At a glance
- Project leader : Prof. Dr. Brigitte Gantschnig
- Deputy of project leader : Selina Marita Egger
- Project team : Philipp Egli, Dr. Martina Filippo, Prof. Dr. Armin Gemperli, Anna Häfner, Prof. Dr. Verena Klamroth-Marganska, Dr. Ronald Liechti
- Project status : ongoing
- Funding partner : Federal government (Eidgenössisches Büro für die Gleichstellung von Menschen mit Behinderungen EBGB), Foundation (Stiftung Behindertentransport Kanton Bern)
- Project partner : Stiftung Behindertentransport Kanton Bern, AGILE.CH Organisationen von Menschen mit Behinderung, Universität Luzern
- Contact person : Brigitte Gantschnig
Many people in Switzerland cannot use public transport or can only use it to a limited extent (e.g., due to a motor or visual impairment). They rely on paratransit services to participate in daily life. Various insurance providers, such as health insurance funds and the Swiss Disability Insurance and Old Age and Survivors' Insurance, provide some financial support by subsidizing travel. There are also foundations in some Swiss cantons that co-finance transport services. However, the responsibilities of these sponsors are often unclear. In addition, benefits may be tied to specific purposes and limited, for example, to a certain number of journeys per month.
Little is known about how people experience mobility limitations and how they affect their ability to work and engage in social activities. However, their views are relevant as Switzerland is obliged under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Swiss Disability Discrimination Act to facilitate the personal mobility of persons with disabilities.
The objective of this project is to assess the situation of people with limited mobility regarding their use of paratransit services in Switzerland in order to develop recommendations for action.
Method and approach
The project followed a mixed methods design and carried out qualitative and quantitative studies. The project team collected data on the views of people with disabilities from different perspectives, using different methods. Firstly, a qualitative approach was used to gather data on the experiences of people with mobility impairments through group discussions. Secondly, the results of the qualitative study served as a basis for a large-scale quantitative survey in the German-, French- and Italian-speaking parts of Switzerland. The quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistical methods. Thirdly, the research team also compiled an overview of the legal basis for paratransit services in Switzerland. Finally, all results were used to develop recommendations for action.
In the summer of 2021, 31 persons participated in five group discussions. The results showed that people use paratransit services for a variety of purposes, such as medical appointments, therapy, shopping, leisure activities, and work. People use paratransit services with different frequencies. Some can rely on private transport services, such as those provided by relatives. For others, paratransit services are the only option. The high cost and insufficient availability of such services, as well as poor coordination between cantons, therefore, have a limiting effect on the lives of people whose mobility depends on them.
Nevertheless, all focus group participants appreciated the paratransit services offered. In particular, they mentioned the personal attention they receive from the drivers and the reliability of their services.
Based on these findings, the research team developed a survey that was conducted from June to August 2022. Five hundred and thirty-six people responded to the survey. The research team is currently analyzing the data.
In the autumn of 2022, the research team finalized an overview of the legal requirements for the mobility of people who cannot use public transport or can only use it with restrictions. The results showed that there is a need for clarification of the legal location of paratransit services and that the current responsibility of the cantons does not lead to a satisfactory result in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. For example, the responsibility for funding is not clearly defined: it lies partly with the social insurance funds and partly with the cantons, which leads to gaps in funding and unclear situations. Furthermore, paratransit services are not mentioned in the Disability Discrimination Act. As a result, people with disabilities are discriminated in relation to people without disabilities.
Based on the results, the research team developed recommendations for action. These were presented to various stakeholder groups - such as people with disabilities themselves and politicians - for discussion in workshops at the beginning of 2023 and then revised. The workshops took place in two selected regions of Switzerland. The aim is to conclude the project in summer 2023 and to present the results in a final report.
Egger, Selina Marita; Gantschnig, Brigitte Elisabeth; Filippo, Martina,
Die Rechte von Menschen mit Behinderungen berücksichtigen.
Egger, Selina Marita; Gemperli, Armin; Filippo, Martina; Liechti, Ronald; Gantschnig, Brigitte Elisabeth; et al.,
The experiences and needs of persons with disabilities in using paratransit services.
Disability and Health Journal.
15(4), pp. 101365.
Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dhjo.2022.101365