Dial-a-ride is a curb to curb transit service operated at passengers' requests. Dial-a-ride is a shared ride service where buses can pick up multiple riders in the neighborhood. Riders need to call ahead to reserve a pick up, generally at least 1 business day before, in addition to standing reservations.
Dial-a-ride services that are open to the general public are common in rural and suburban communities, where ridership is not sufficient to support fixed-route, scheduled bus service. Also, some scheduled bus service can be deviated off the route upon advanced reservation for the general public or senior/disabled riders.
Paratransit required by ADA is a form of dial-a-ride service. Paratransit service is available wherever fixed-route transit service is provided (with some exceptions), however paratransit is strictly reserved for disabled individuals who are unable to use regular transit. For areas that have general public dial-a-ride or deviated fixed route service, a separate paratransit service is not required.
A similar shared-ride service called microtransit uses mobile technology for reservation and dispatching like popular ride-hail/TNC services. Rides on microtransit can be requested on-demand from mobile devices 📱 rather than reserving a day before.