Why a Passenger Would Need a One-Way Trip

Though many passengers request round trip transportation for their NEMT needs, one-way trips are an additional source of income for non-emergency medical transportation businesses. Charging a rate that satisfies both the financial needs of your clients and keeps you profitable is crucial to the growth and future of your business. Some of the circumstances which would require a one way trip include: 

  • Passengers admitted to hospital as a result of a scheduled appointment
  • Hospital discharges
  • Transport to a new nursing home or care facility
  • Clients with half of a round trip’s transportation covered by a relative or other source (Holiday gatherings where all relatives have had too much to drink to drive someone back to their nursing home or healthcare facility)

These are just a sample of the situations where your clients would need a one-way transport. By being proactive in recognizing price factors and utilizing transport billing software as an additional tool, you can sustain your success as an NEMT provider both with your passengers and your employees. Here are some of the variables that should play into what rates you charge as an NEMT provider for one-way services.

Distance of Trip

The more mileage you put on your vehicle, the more it will cost you in fuel, wear and tear, and maintenance over time. A sixty mile trip should have a higher rate than one that is only five or ten miles. Where a pickup or drop-off is located relative to your geographic footprint should also be taken into consideration. Let’s say you cover a thirty mile radius around your central garage. A call comes in from a passenger living twenty miles east of your garage who needs to get to a specialized care center sixty miles west of your depot. Here are the parameters that should help you decide pricing for this trip.

  • 80 total deadhead miles. (20 from depot to pickup+60 from drop-off to depot)
  • Drop-off location is 30 miles beyond your coverage area.  (60 total miles traveled out of footprint)
  • Nearly 3 hours of total travel time required (Multiple shorter trips could’ve been completed during this timeframe)
  • Roughly 1 hour of time where the vehicle is out of region. (One less vehicle available for other orders within coverage range)  
  • Greatly limited multi-load ability (While vehicle is out of geographic area)

With the added cost of time, money, and mileage on your vehicle, you’ll need to establish a price that covers the additional burden on your resources from taking on such a trip. Another way to maximize profit margin during these one-way trips is through the use of NEMT dispatch software. There is NEMT cloud-based software currently on the market that can show you in Livetime what vehicles you have, their capacity, and how many open seats each vehicle has throughout the duration of a route. 

Type of Roads Along Route

Driving on a highway is usually much quicker, but it has another benefit. It will cost you less in gas mileage compared to traveling on at-grade roadways. Transportation route optimization software can also be a critical aid in plotting the best course for one-way trips to reduce wasted time, deadhead miles, fuel costs, and excess wear and tear on vehicles. Compared to expressways, driving on surface streets in a busy city or suburb means more starting and braking due to stoplights and stop signs which wear brakes down faster. The absence of medians between vehicles traveling in opposite directions, pedestrian and bicycle traffic, and potholes are other features of surface streets which could lead to costly repairs or greater risk of accidents. These circumstances should all weigh in your decision for pricing on a one-way trip.  

Your Location and its Cost of Living

Major cities generally have a higher cost of living than rural regions and smaller communities. If it’s more expensive to operate in your area due to fuel and insurance rates, you’ll need to price all trips including one-way trips higher than in an area where your overhead and expenses would otherwise be lower. 

Type of Vehicle

The three most common types of vehicles in the NEMT industry are ambulatory, wheelchair, and ambulettes, which are also known as stretcher vehicles. You’ll pay more for the insurance required on vehicles that have wheelchair lifts, ramps, or safety straps than you would pay for ambulatory vehicles which don’t include these features.  The rate you charge for a one-way trip should be dependent on which type of vehicle is needed for your client’s mobility needs. 

Time of Day

Night driving is generally more hazardous than driving during the day. Darkness, lack of streetlights in some locations, and nocturnal wildlife such as deer, raccoons, or coyotes all create additional hazards when on the road between dusk and dawn. The added exposure to all of these elements should all be built into your one-way cost for accepting a nighttime trip. Your state of operation may also mandate that workers be paid premium wages for working overtime or off-hours from their regular shifts. If you charge the same rate for all trips, your profitability will take a hit either though losses or reduced profit margin by taking on after-hours work. 

Day of the Week

Much like nighttime trips, weekend routes hold different risks relative to those scheduled on Monday-Friday. Traffic volumes are different on Saturdays and Sundays compared to the morning and afternoon rush hour in a given city or town during the week. There are also more motorists driving hungover or under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the early morning hours of weekend days. This poses an additional safety concern to your drivers and riders. You drivers may also be working overtime to complete these trips, meaning that you’re probably paying them extra. Increasing pricing to cover these additional costs and risks is necessary to make the work associated with accepting these weekend routes profitable.


Like weekend work, setting premium rates for holiday trips should be implemented for similar reasons. Your state or county may require you pay your drivers and staff higher wages for working on holidays and you’ll have to recoup these costs to avoid losing money for taking on an order. Also, the number of vehicles on the road, number of accidents, and number of DWIs and DUIs all increase in the days preceding and following observances like Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, and Labor Day. In spite of roadside checkpoints and other measures taken by law enforcement, rates of alcohol-imparied driving greatly increase on and around holidays such as New Years, Thanksgiving, and Independence Day. You’ll need to charge more for the added risk and cost you’ll incur by operating on holidays.  Remember, you wouldn’t charge the same rate for a one-way order at 1am on New Years as you would for the same order on an ordinary weekday.  

Deadhead Miles

Deadhead miles are those logged when a vehicle is being driven without a passenger. There are generally more deadhead miles accumulated during one-way trips than for round trips. Along with no-shows, the waste of time and money associated with running empty is one of the biggest pain points for NEMT providers. Calculating your individual costs associated with deadhead miles and adjusting your rates accordingly for one-way routes is critical to the success of your business. Transportation problem solver software is also available to you as an additional resource in reducing monetary and other waste.  

ISI Technology and Pricing for One-Way Trips

As specialists in working with NEMT professionals to create personalized medical transportation billing software, ISI Technology knows and understands that every NEMT operation is unique and has its own needs in regards to pricing, billing, and route scheduling. The following pricing aids in our customized accounting software for transportation companies can help you set the appropriate rates for your one-way orders:

  • Ability to set up and change one-way trips in scheduling portal
  • Adjustable pricing in centralized module that factors in special rates for night, weekend, and holiday trips 
  • Multiload feature that allows you to add passengers along a route  
  • Vehicle tab that shows you what type of vehicle, its general capacity, and the different capacity figures for any combination of riders.
  • Cost breakdown that shows deadhead miles for a given account and allows you to modify pricing relative to number of the deadhead miles accumulated on that order. 
  • Amazon-backed cloud-based software program that updates all information in Livetime.

At first glance, one-way trips are sometimes viewed as not being cost-effective. As an NEMT operator, the knowledge of their price factors paired with the right NEMT billing software can help you convert these perceived cash hogs into cash cows. Contact ISI Technology today for the best non-emergency medical transportation software.