Talking about Access-a-Ride

Read a message for General Manager Phil Washington

June 11, 2012

Dear Access-a-Ride Patron:

From its very inception, the goal of the RTD Access-a-Ride program has been to address the mobility needs of individuals with disabilities, to adhere to the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA) and to align with the policies established by the RTD Board of Directors and RTD’s ADA Paratransit Implementation Plan. Those remain the goals of the program today.

Since 1993, RTD’s paratransit service policies and paratransit plan have adhered to the ADA. The ADA requires that transit agencies that provide fixed route transit service also provide “complementary paratransit service” for riders who have a disability that prevents them from making some or all of their trips on fixed route buses. Complementary paratransit service must be provided within a ¾-mile of local fixed route bus service during the same hours of operation and on the same days as fixed route bus service. RTD’s Access-a-Ride User’s Guide explains that Access-a-Ride service operates in the same areas and during the same days and hours as the fixed route non-commuter bus service. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA), who oversees RTD’s compliance with this aspect of the ADA, approved RTD’s paratransit implementation plan based on that criteria.

As you may already be aware, starting in January 2013, RTD plans to more accurately implement our Access-a-Ride policy of providing paratransit service within the ADA-mandated service boundaries (3/4 mile) and during the same days and times of existing fixed route operations. RTD’s efforts to more accurately implement the service plan for Access-a-Ride service in the established service area is not a change in policy. Recent upgrades to RTD’s scheduling and mapping software have simply improved RTD’s ability to identify those trips that do not fall within the service area for ADA-mandated paratransit service.

Several questions concerning this issue have been raised. RTD feels it is important to share the following responses with you.

Where in the ADA does it describe the requirements that guide the provision of ADA paratransit service (eg. the ¾ mile guideline, the time and days of service guideline)?

Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations, 49 C.F.R. Section 37.131, set out the service criteria for complementary paratransit service.

49 C.F.R. Section 37.131 (a) – Service Area. “The entity shall provide complementary paratransit service to origins and destinations within corridors with a width of three-fourths of a mile on each side of each fixed route.”

49 C.F.R. Section 37.131 (e) – Hours and Days of Service. “The complementary paratransit service shall be available throughout the same hours and days as the entity’s fixed route service.”

The statute and regulations are available electronically on FTA’s website at http://www.fta.dot.gov.

What about passengers who need dialysis? What is the disabled community supposed to do?
RTD staff members continue to work with Access-a-Ride passengers to identify alternative transportation options. Some passengers have been able to change their appointment times for dialysis so that it coincides with the hours of the fixed route bus operation. Other passengers have been able to use Access-a-Cab for some of their trips.
How do I know if the service that I am requesting is eligible for Access-a-Ride services?
The majority of Access-a-Ride passengers will not be impacted by RTD’s efforts to more accurately implement the Access-a-Ride service plan. Since August of 2011, Access-a-Ride reservationists have been advising Access-a-Ride passengers whenever a requested trip does not qualify for ADA paratransit service. RTD has allowed Access-a-Ride passengers to continue to take trips that do not meet the criteria for ADA paratransit service, and will do so through the end of this year. If you have not been advised that a requested trip is outside of the service area or day or time, then you should not worry – the current requested trip should qualify for Access-a-Ride service.

During the last few months, RTD has developed a resource available on its website that will assist you with determining whether your travel needs fall within the ADA service area and/or during the days and times of fixed route services.

While RTD is attempting to empower our passengers to educate themselves regarding the fixed route services that impact Access-a-Ride service through our website, RTD also realizes that not everyone has access to a computer or the internet. If you would like additional information regarding RTD’s Access-a-Ride service guidelines please feel free to contact Larry Buter, RTD Manager of Paratransit Services, at 303-299-2152 or Joy Volz, RTD Paratransit Quality Assurance Supervisor, at 303-299-2879.

Thank you for your understanding. We are here to answer any questions that you may have.

Sincerely,

Phillip A. Washington
RTD General Manager