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3 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION BACKGROUND to continue to serve the individuals who must use paratransit, while also operating more efficiently to contain costs and/or This synthesis of transit practice covers a wide range of poli- provide more service for the available resources. cies and practices that transit agencies use to provide service more effectively and efficiently to persons with disabilities. Some of the efficiency practices include changes in daily Efficiencies are needed to address the ever-increasing cost of paratransit operations, office procedures such as changes in meeting the civil rights requirements of the Americans with call taking and scheduling, and broader policy changes such Disabilities Act (ADA) for paratransit service. An under- as eligibility determination. Practices may also cover the wide lying purpose of the ADA is to provide equal opportunity, range of ways to make the fixed-route service more useable full participation, and independence to persons with disabil- and more attractive to persons with disabilities. ities. Transit plays a key role for two reasons. First, it is the means for people to get to jobs, schools, shopping, or other Policies and practices either successfully in place or being destinations. Second, because transit is so visible, persons tested by transit agencies include: with disabilities often look to transit to take a leading role in carrying out the letter and the spirit of the ADA. More precise eligibility determinations, Use of taxi contractors for flexible capacity, A goal of ADA and U.S. DOT regulations that implement Coordination with social service agencies and other the ADA is to provide equal access to public transit to per- potential paratransit providers, sons with disabilities. For many riders and for many trips, the Integrated paratransit services for use by the general first option is accessible fixed-route service. However, the public, ADA requires public transit operators to provide complemen- Improvements to fixed-route service, and tary paratransit when persons with disabilities cannot use the Incentives to use fixed-route services. fixed route. The resulting paratransit services developed in response to the ADA have played a large role in providing Each of these is discussed in detail as part of this synthesis. access, participation, and independence to persons with disabilities. OBJECTIVES In fiscal year 2004, U.S. transit agencies provided more than 114 million paratransit trips (Public Transportation Fact Paratransit managers face pressure in using their resources Book 2006). Most of these trips were ADA-complementary more efficiently while continuing to provide the service paratransit trips. This represents a 58.3% increase since 1992, required by the ADA--and often beyond that--as determined the first year of ADA-complementary paratransit service. The by their locality. This synthesis highlights policies and prac- growth in paratransit ridership has slowed since the early tices that transit agencies could apply to their own services, 1990s: over a 5-year period (1999 to 2004), paratransit often without the need to devote significant funds, personnel, ridership rose by 14%. Nevertheless, this rate of increase or other resources. far exceeds the growth rate for public transit as a whole for the same period (4.4%) and exceeds the growth of all other modes This synthesis also identifies cases where transit agencies except light rail. Although paratransit ridership is still a small have quantified either increased efficiencies or cost savings portion of the whole, slightly more than 1%, in 2004, para- through implementation of a policy or practice. For example, transit comprised 9% of transit operating costs (Public Trans- many transit agencies have developed a travel training pro- portation Fact Book 2006). The operating cost per trip for gram to encourage persons with disabilities to use the fixed paratransit service was $22.14; for all other modes, the oper- route rather than paratransit for some of their trips. Although ating cost per trip was $2.75 (per trip costs calculated from transit professionals, riders, and advocates would all agree APTA data). that travel training is good, few agencies have documented-- beyond simply the number of individuals trained--the benefits As demand for paratransit continues to increase in many gained through a travel training program. This synthesis pre- communities, transit agencies are looking for innovative ways sents such data.