National Academies Press: OpenBook

Use of Agency Service Agreements in ADA Paratransit Delivery (2021)

Chapter: Chapter 1 Introduction

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Use of Agency Service Agreements in ADA Paratransit Delivery. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26318.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Use of Agency Service Agreements in ADA Paratransit Delivery. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26318.
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1 SEPTEMBER 2021 TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM TCRP RRD115 RESEARCH RESULTS DIGEST SUMMARY This digest documents current practices of transit agencies that utilize agency service agreements. An agency service agreement, which some transit agencies refer to interchangeably as an agency trip agreement or agency fare agreement, is an agreement, either formal or informal, between a transit agency and a social service agency or orga- nization that provides agency trips. Agency trips are those rides that social service agencies or organizations guarantee to their riders in which the social service agency pays for the ride. An agency fare is an amount charged to the social service agency or organization purchasing transit services on behalf of their clients. For example, a social ser- vice agency could pay a transit agency an agency fare to provide rides for people with disabilities to attend an outing at a mall. In a typical agency service agreement, the social service agency provides the schedule for the rider; pays the transit agency directly for some or all the transportation; directs travel between origins and destinations; and determines the service areas for its clients. The transit agency and the social service agency negotiate the fare, which could be more than the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) complementary paratransit fare. These rides or agency trips are provided for social service agency clients—who may or may not be eligible for ADA complementary paratransit services. Prior to this digest, there was limited documen- tation of agency service agreements. Therefore, this digest relied on a customized survey of transit agencies of all sizes from across the country to identify possible case examples of agency service agreements. Once identified, the transit agencies participated in in-depth interviews to illustrate their agency experiences and practices. The case examples represented various aspects of the agree- ments. Those who were interviewed stated that these agreements are beneficial for the transit agencies, the social service agencies, and the riders. Each case example includes the practice; the moti- vating factor or purpose for seeking the agreement; the context; the agency fare; outcomes; and their challenges, lessons learned, and accomplishments. The conclusion identifies commonalities among the agreements, as well as possible further research. CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Many transit agencies provide specialized trans- portation to social service agencies through formal and informal agreements known as agency service Use of Agency Service Agreements in ADA Paratransit Delivery This digest summarizes the findings obtained from TCRP Project J-07/Topic SB-32, “Use of Agency Service Agreements in ADA Paratransit Service Delivery.” An agency service agreement is an agreement between a transit agency and a social service agency in which the transit agency provides beneficiaries of the social service agency with transportation in exchange for a pre-negotiated fare. This digest identifies and documents current practices for transit agencies that have negotiated and structured agency service agreements and documents lessons learned and possibilities for future research. The research was conducted by Barbara Thomson of Thomson Consulting, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the responsible senior program officer is Mariela Garcia-Colberg. Gwen Chisholm Smith is the manager for TCRP and Christopher J. Hedges the director of CRP. C O N T E N T S Summary, 1 Chapter 1 Introduction, 1 Background, 2 Literature Review, 2 Survey and Interviews, 2 Chapter 2 Case Examples/ Practices, 3 Wisconsin Department of Transportation, 4 City of Eau Claire Transit, 5 San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, 5 Madison Metro Transit, 6 Kitsap Transit, 8 Utah Transit Authority, 8 Pennsylvania Public Transportation Association, 9 City of Gadsden Transit Services, 10 Chapter 3 Conclusions and Further Research, 11 Motivating Factors/Purpose, 11 Challenges and New Ways of Doing Business, 11 Key to Success, 12 Lessons Learned, 12 Accomplishments, 12 Further Research, 12 Bibliography, 13

2 agreements. This digest identifies and documents current practices for transit agencies of all sizes and from across the country that have negotiated and structured local agency service agreements with social service agencies to meet mutual needs. An agency ser- vice agreement is an agreement between a transit agency and a social service agency in which the transit agency provides benefi- ciaries of the social service agency with transportation in exchange for a pre-negotiated fare. An agency service agreement involves three parties: the transit agency, the social service agency, and the rider. While performing the research for this digest, it became apparent that the term agency service agreement is often used interchange- ably with the terms agency trip agreement and agency fare agree- ment in the industry. Thus, to be clear, in this digest the term agency service agreement refers to an agreement, either formal or informal, between a transit agency and a social service agency or organization that provides agency trips. Agency trips are those rides that social service agencies or organizations guarantee to their riders. And the agency fare is the amount charged to the social service agency or organization purchasing transit services on behalf of their clients. The agency fare may be greater than the ADA complementary paratransit fare. The investigator performed a literature review, a survey of selected transit agencies, and in-depth interviews to identify the various prac- tices associated with agency service agreements. These practices are documented in the case examples. The conclusion presents common themes found among the transit agencies and further research that could benefit transit agencies as they move forward. Background All transit agencies must comply with U.S. DOT’s ADA provisions, and thus, transit agencies understand that they must provide ADA complementary paratransit service to eligible people. This includes origin-to-destination service for their ADA complementary para- transit riders. In addition, under the same regulations, ADA provides a mechanism for transit agencies to negotiate agency service agree- ments and agency fares that provide guaranteed rides for social service agency riders (Figure 1). Eligibility for these rides may extend to riders who may or may not be eligible for ADA complementary paratransit. U.S. DOT regulations identify the parameters for ADA com- plementary paratransit services and fares transit agencies charge. The regulations require transit agencies to provide ADA comple- mentary paratransit service within a 3/4-mile of a bus route or station, during the same hours and days of fixed-route service. U.S.C. 49 Part 37.131 (c) Fares states that, “The fare charged to an ADA paratransit eligible user of complementary transit service shall not exceed twice the fare that would be charged to an individual pay- ing full fare (i.e., without regard to discounts) for a trip of similar length at a similar time of day on the entity’s fixed-route system.” Meanwhile, U.S.C. 49 Part 37.131 (c)(4) states that, “The entity may charge a fare higher than otherwise permitted by this paragraph to a social service agency or other organization for agency trips (i.e., trips guaranteed to the organization).” U.S. DOT’s ADA regulations in 49 CFR Part  37 describe these agency trips as those guaranteed to human social service organiza- tions in which the social service agency pays for the ride. According to U.S. DOT regulations, the transit agency may “negotiate a price with the agency that is more than twice the relevant fixed-route fare” (Appendix D to 49 CFR Part 37). Furthermore, the transit agency may expand or restrict the 3/4-mile geographic parameter. The social service agency determines whether someone is eligible for the service, and either the social service agency or the transit agency books the trip for the rider. Examples of agency service agreements include transit agencies that provide transportation for social service agencies such as an adult day care or a pre-school that serves students who are at-risk. Another example is non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) and other transportation for Medicaid subscribers provided by transit agencies. Literature Review There are very few publications related to agency service agree- ments. The investigator found no publications directly focused on the topic, but identified one TRB study that saw agency service agreements as a possible provider for NEMT services: TCRP Research Report 202: Handbook for Examining the Effects of Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Brokerages on Transportation Coordination (Cherrington et al., 2018). Due to the scarcity of applicable litera- ture, the most relevant publication to the practices studied in this report is ADA itself. Survey and Interviews The investigator contacted 50 transit agencies across the country and sent surveys to each seeking information on their agency service ADA Complementary Paratransit Agency Service Agreement Fare Limited to 2 times fixed route Negotiated Service Area Within 3/4-mile fixed route at a minimum Can restrict or expand 3/4-mile fixed route Who decides eligibility? Transit Agency Social Service Agency Who books the rider? Transit Agency Social Service Agency or Transit Agency Who pays transit agency? Rider Social Service Agency Source: Thomson Consulting FIGURE 1 ADA complementary paratransit and agency service agreement coordination.

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All transit agencies must provide complementary paratransit service to eligible people, as required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This includes origin-to-destination service for their ADA complementary paratransit riders.

The TRB Transit Cooperative Research Program's TCRP Research Results Digest 115: Use of Agency Service Agreements in ADA Paratransit Delivery identifies and documents current practices for transit agencies of all sizes and from across the country that have negotiated and structured local agency service agreements with social service agencies to meet mutual needs.

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