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POLICIES AND PRACTICES FOR EFFECTIVELY AND EFFICIENTLY MEETING ADA PARATRANSIT DEMAND SUMMARY This synthesis of transit practice covers a wide range of policies and practices that transit agen- cies use to more effectively and efficiently provide service to persons with disabilities. Although paratransit ridership is slightly more than 1% of the total transit ridership, paratransit costs comprised 9% of transit operating costs; therefore, efficiencies are needed to address the ever- increasing costs of meeting the civil rights requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for paratransit service. From 1992--the first year of ADA-complementary paratransit service--to 2004, paratransit ridership in the United States increased by 58.3%, to more than 114 million trips, most of which were ADA-complementary paratransit trips. In addition, the operating cost per trip for paratransit service was $22.14, whereas for all other modes, the operating cost per trip was $2.75 (per trip costs calculated from APTA data). The increase in paratransit trips and the substantial difference in paratransit service trip costs when com- pared with the cost for other modes are prompting transit agencies to seek more effective and efficient ways to meet the growing demand for ADA-complementary paratransit service. This synthesis identifies policies and practices both proven and promising, from their fel- low paratransit operators. There were two main sources for the information in this synthesis. First, a survey of U.S. transit agencies was conducted that included questions about innova- tive practices and policies in eligibility determination, paratransit operations, use of technol- ogy, coordination with other agencies, paratransit management and administration, and fixed- route improvements and incentives to attract riders with disabilities. Using APTA and CTAA mailing lists, approximately 900 surveys were distributed. Responses were received from 124 transit agencies. Transit agencies also provided sample material, such as in-house reports, policy memos, agreements with other agencies, and consumer guides. Second, phone inter- views took place with 17 of these transit agencies to gather further information on their inno- vative policies and practices. The following is a sample of transit agency practices to improve the efficiency and effec- tiveness of service for ADA riders: To improve efficiency, King County (Washington) Metro has invested much effort into developing policies for making determinations of conditional eligibility. The agency also invests staff resources to collect the pathway data necessary to make determinations for trip-by-trip eligibility. The agency has used its paratransit software to make use of these determinations in its daily Metro Access paratransit operations. Technology has helped paratransit operations handle an increasing number of trips, clients, and vehicles. Dallas Area Rapid Transit has an automated system that allows its riders to request and confirm trips over the phone without the need of a call taker. This option makes trip requests more convenient for riders and less labor-intensive for the agency thereby improving effectiveness and efficiency. Beyond daily operations, examples of paratransit coordination to improve effectiveness and efficiency include joint travel training (Intercity Transit, Olympia, Washington), vehicle maintenance and vehicle lending (Transit Authority of River City, Louisville, Kentucky), and a regional call center for transit information (Santa Fe Trails, Santa Fe, New Mexico).

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2 Two transit systems have derived significant financial benefits from their travel training programs: RTC Washoe (Reno, Nevada) with a year's net savings of $233,000 and Intercity Transit (Olympia, Washington) with a "very conservative" annual savings of $260,000. At a small transit system such as Sandy (Oregon) Area Metro, travel training can have the added benefit of gaining fixed-route transit riders who had never ridden transit. Sandy's "Travel Adventures" program targets and trains not only persons with disabilities, but anyone who is uncomfortable or unfamiliar with riding a bus. Despite the success stories, the transit industry could do more to serve its ADA paratransit riders more effectively and efficiently. There can be greater efforts to make the fixed route more accessible and inviting to current and future paratransit riders. Accessible fixed-route service can benefit transit agencies as well as their riders. The review completed for this synthesis suggests some areas for further research and effort. Such a topic could be a more comprehensive study of transit agency policies and practices that have lead to increased fixed-route ridership by persons with disabilities. The research could gather information from transit agencies about how they attract persons with disabilities to their fixed-route service. It would evaluate policies and practices to determine their success and to judge their potential for transferability to other agencies and could focus on how tran- sit agencies measure their fixed-route ridership of persons with disabilities. It would help tran- sit agencies to have more widespread dissemination of standards for collecting data on service barriers. Many transit agencies are already making determinations of conditional and trip-by- trip eligibility, but are not enforcing the conditions because of inadequate data. Although tran- sit agencies would still need to collect data and make judgments for each trip, a workbook would help them make comprehensive and consistent determinations. Taxis could play are larger role in the provision of ADA-complementary paratransit service and other types of flexible transit for persons with disabilities. In rural areas, school buses could also provide flexible capacity. The survey showed that a small set of respondents used taxis for ADA-complementary paratransit service: 16% as regular contractors, 21% as over- flow contractors, and 12% as same-day contractors. The development of more widely avail- able accessible taxis and determination of the costs involved could spur a greater use of them by paratransit operators. For school buses, the barriers to greater use appear to be physical, institutional, and regulatory in nature. Although fleet size is not currently a capacity limitation for most paratransit operators, taxis and school buses can provide transit agencies with lower- cost capacity without the need for a long-term capital commitment.