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18 CHAPTER FOUR CASE STUDY HIGHLIGHTS INTRODUCTION Eligibility for ADA-complementary paratransit service is directly related to an individual with a disability not being Chapter three reviewed the variety of policies and practices able to use the fixed route. The ADA regulations set forth that transit agencies of different sizes and environments have three categories of eligibility [49 CFR 37.123(e)]: used to serve the paratransit demands of riders with disabili- ties. This chapter highlights some of these policies and prac- 1. An individual with a disability (physical, sensory, or tices, providing details of how transit agencies have carried mental) who is unable, without the assistance of another out programs in the topic areas covered in the survey. individual, to board, ride, or disembark from a vehicle which is accessible to persons with a disability. Each of the following sections of this chapter provides 2. An individual with a disability who could use a fixed an overview of the topic and the key issues facing transit route if the vehicle were accessible, but accessible vehi- agencies. Following this discussion are the specific poli- cles are not being used for the particular trip. cies and practices. Information has been gathered from 3. An individual with a disability who cannot get to or dis- open-ended responses provided in the on-line survey embark from the fixed-route station or stop. (Questions 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 40, and 42), telephone interviews with transit agency staff, and sample documents The first eligibility category; that is, "navigating the sys- provided by staff or from their agency websites. Areas tem," is the most common and well known. The second eligi- covered include: bility category is becoming less common and does not apply in many transit agencies as their fleets become fully compli- Eligibility policies, ant with the vehicle requirements of the ADA regulations. Operating policies and practices, The third eligibility category is a function of the operating Taxis and other flexible capacity, environment of a transit agency--the accessibility of the stops, Coordination of ADA paratransit with other transit stations, and paths of travel to and from them. services, Improvements to fixed-route services, and An eligibility process generally includes the following Incentives to use the fixed-route system. components: Public information and initial application, ELIGIBILITY POLICIES Tracking and initial review of application, Assessment of an applicant's capabilities, A transit agency's process for determining eligibility is the Eligibility determination, gateway to its ADA-complementary paratransit service. The Appeal and service suspension processes, and more accurately and precisely a transit agency designs and Recertification. carries out its eligibility process, the more appropriately it can serve its riders--both on the fixed route and paratransit. The transit industry has refined the policies and processes An eligibility process that is too permissive may lead to pro- used to determine ADA paratransit eligibility. To track appli- viding paratransit service to individuals who could otherwise cations, more agencies are now making use of automation to use the fixed-route system for some or all of their transit trips. handle the great volume of data on its applicants. More transit This could impose financial burdens on the transit agency, agencies are conducting detailed and specialized applicant perhaps leading to less service or a lower quality of service assessments. Easter Seals Project ACTION has developed ref- for both fixed-route and paratransit riders. If a transit agency erence materials to help transit agencies in this area (http:// improperly denies eligibility to an individual, it is denying a civil right to that person. Even if a transit agency is making ESPA_free_resources&s_esLocation=FR). The National proper determinations but has an eligibility process that is Transit Institute provides a training course, Comprehen- unwieldy or burdensome for applicants, that process can dis- sive ADA Paratransit Eligibility ( courage people from applying for eligibility and thus indi- CourseInfo.asp?CourseNumber=FP011). More transit agen- rectly deprive them of paratransit service. cies now conduct in-person assessments with in-house or con-

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19 tracted specialists. In addition, there have been changes in the appears in the Incentives to Use the Fixed Route System sec- appeal and suspension processes, in part owing to consumer tion later in this chapter. input and FTA guidance on acceptable policies. The following two case studies focus on two aspects of eli- However, the changes in eligibility policies and practices gibility determination. The first case describes the process that are most likely to have a long-term impact on paratransit used by Access Services, Inc. (ASI) to evaluate individuals riderships relate to the ways in which transit agencies are refin- applying for ADA-complementary paratransit service. The ing eligibility determinations. To encourage the use of fixed- second case describes the efforts by the King County Metro route service, the regulations have always permitted transit (Seattle, Washington) to implement both conditional and trip- agencies to give eligibility to paratransit riders on a conditional by-trip eligibility. or trip-by-trip basis. 49 CFR 37.123(b) states that, "If an indi- vidual meets the eligibility criteria of this section with respect Access Services, Inc.--In-Person to some trips but not others, the individual shall be ADA para- Functional Assessments transit eligible only for those trips for which he or she meets the criteria." This means that depending on the environmental ASI is the contractor that provides ADA-complementary para- conditions, the path of travel, or a rider's disability affecting transit service for the Los Angeles County (California) Metro- the ability to use a fixed route, a transit agency is permitted to politan Transportation Authority and all other fixed-route determine if a trip is feasible on a fixed route for that rider, or transit services in Los Angeles County. In fiscal year 2005, if that rider needs paratransit. ASI switched from an in-person interview to an in-person functional assessment for all individuals applying for para- For most transit agencies, the barrier to enforcing condi- transit service. The assessment begins with an interview, fol- tional and trip-by-trip eligibility has been matching the impair- lowed by a simulated transit walk if the assessor needs further ment conditions of a rider to daily operations. One responding information to make a determination. The simulated transit transit agency noted that, "Conditional eligibility is applied walk includes the following tasks: frequently, although applicants are on the honor system to schedule paratransit trips when the trips meet the conditions of Travel over five different sample terrains: gravel, smooth, their eligibility. We have found that many conditions of eligi- cracked and potholed, soft turf, and unset paving blocks; bility will be difficult to enforce, especially when passengers Travel up an incline without rest stops; may reserve trips up to two days in advance." Travel up curb steps; Travel up and down curb cuts; Many transit agencies now certify applicants with con- Travel on left- and right-side sloped walks; ditional eligibility, but then provide service for any trip Identification of route numbers; requested by that rider. Other agencies have enforced broad Use of a fare box; conditions, erring on the side of providing paratransit service Following multiple-step directions; and if there is a question. For example, eligibility for paratransit Going from seated to standing position. service in hot (or cold) weather is a common condition, with a particular specific temperature threshold. But instead of During these tasks, the ASI evaluator observes the appli- using that temperature threshold on a day-to-day basis, an cant's short-term memory response, balance and endurance, agency may substitute "the months of May to September" as and gait and speed. the actual condition. ASI staff believes that conducting functional assessments "Trip-by-trip eligibility" tends to refer to evaluating a rider's for all applicants has led to more accurate eligibility deter- ability to use a fixed route or need to use paratransit for a spe- minations. The largest change in the eligibility determination cific origin and destination. Therefore, knowledge of the path outcomes was an increase in "restricted" (conditional or of travel is essential. This means that a transit agency must trip-by-trip) eligibility from 0.4% in the three previous years investigate and document the path of travel to the stops and/or (fiscal years 2002 to 2004) to 10.1% in fiscal year 2007 (first stations that a rider would follow to use a fixed route; every trip 9 months). Another notable pattern was the change in origin and destination would require that same effort. This very applicants who were determined not to be eligible for ADA labor- and data-intensive process stymies most agencies from service. In fiscal year 2005, the first year of functional assess- investing the effort. As a result, trip-by-trip eligibility is used ments, 20.8% of applicants were found not eligible, com- even less frequently than conditional eligibility. pared with 11.0% for the previous three years. However, by fiscal year 2007 (first 9 months), the proportion of applicants A way to increase the success of trip-by-trip eligibility is to found not eligible had decreased to 12.5%. Staff concluded have a travel training program. Travel training enables more that more individuals were self-selecting to not apply for ADA paratransit riders to use the fixed route for some of their ADA service because they understood that they would not be trips. A discussion of travel training and some success stories eligible.

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20 King County Metro--Conditional is extreme heat. Appendix D provides Metro's full explanation and Trip-by-Trip Eligibility of each of these conditions. King County Metro (Washington State) provides public trans- The pathway conditions deal with architectural and envi- portation in Seattle and surrounding King County. Its Metro ronmental conditions that Metro does not control; the con- Access service provides ADA-complementary paratransit ser- ditions are considered permanent until new information is vice. As of the end of 2006, there were nearly 28,000 individ- available. Metro has been slowly compiling a detailed data- uals certified to use Metro Access. Of this total, more than 80% base of pathway barriers (public rights-of-way only). It has a are certified without any conditions. Metro has been making complete database for downtown Seattle. The following are determinations of conditional eligibility since 1993, but did examples of pathway barriers: not begin to enforce the conditions until 2000. Uneven terrain, During the eligibility determination process Metro con- Slope in direction of travel greater than 8, siders the following: Busy road or any road with at least four lanes, Conditions that occur while getting to and from a fixed- Unmarked intersections, and route bus Improper or lack of curb cuts. Seasonal conditions: Extreme heat, Metro Access staff collects data in person for specific paths Extreme cold, for frequent trips (defined as more than nine times over three Extreme light, months) made by riders certified since the beginning of 2006. Darkness, and Metro staff visits the origins and destinations, and review the Snow and ice. paths to the bus stops for both inbound and outbound legs. Variable conditions: "bad day" for riders with dis- They may identify paths that are accessible that are not neces- abilities that cause temporary fatigue or temporary sarily the most direct paths between the origin and bus stop, intensification of pain. but that are feasible and practical for the rider. They make Pathway conditions: measurements and take photographs of the sites. Metro has Lack of curb cut, created a pathway review workbook (a set of spreadsheet tem- Steep inclines, plates) to collect all the needed data to determine whether the Uneven surfaces, pathways to and from the two ends of a requested trip are Complex traffic, and accessible. Appendix D also includes a completed pathway Distance. review workbook for a sample origindestination pair evalu- Conditions that occur while boarding or alighting from ated by Metro Access staff. a fixed-route bus: Lack of boarding device (Metro has a 100% acces- To implement the enforcement of these conditions, Metro sible fleet, but evaluates the need for a boarding enters each rider's travel limitations in the automated client device because the applicant may use the certifi- database (part of the Trapeze software). These data are used by cation when traveling in other cities) and the Trapeze certification module when a rider with conditional Lack of accessible stop. eligibility calls to request a trip. Conditions that occur while riding a fixed-route bus: Bus-to-bus transfer and King County Metro estimated the savings from trips taken Not travel trained. by conditionally eligible Metro Access riders on the fixed route rather than paratransit service (B. Sahm, personal com- For each condition, Metro has provided a definition (and munication, April 18, 2007). Metro staff reviewed the travel of how Metro determines if that condition exists) stating how far 283 conditionally eligible riders from 2006 to early 2007 and in advance a rider can book a demand-responsive trip as a found that 64 of these riders could use the fixed-route service result of the condition, and stating whether a rider can receive instead of paratransit for particular round trips. This resulted in subscription service as a result of the condition. For example, 7,528 passenger trips during this period taken on fixed route Metro defines "extreme heat" as 85F or greater. Metro also instead of Metro Access. In addition, 6 of the 64 riders deter- assumes that there is a high likelihood for extreme heat during mined that they could use the fixed-route service for all of their July and August; therefore, all days during these two months transit trips and stopped using Metro Access entirely. This led are automatically categorized as extreme heat days. For the to another 2,090 passenger trips taken on fixed-route instead of remainder of the year if any part of King County is forecast to Metro Access service. have a daytime high temperature of 85F or higher for the next day then a rider with an extreme heat condition may book a trip The marginal cost of a Metro Access trip during this period for that day. Because the extreme heat condition is defined was $22.70. The resulting cost savings resulting from trips only one day ahead (other than July and August), Metro does taken by these 64 passengers on the fixed route rather than not allow subscription service for a rider whose only condition Metro Access service was $218,329. In the next phase of