Amputee Coalition / National Limb Loss Information Center Fact Sheet
by Dick Mooney with additional research by Bill Dupes
What Is Paratransit?
Paratransit is a specialized, door-to-door transport service for people with disabilities who are not able to ride fixed-route public transportation. This may be due to an inability to:
Paratransit has a specialized meaning in the context of transportation regulations. The term refers to the complementary paratransit service, comparable to public fixed-route systems, which must be provided. Typically, paratransit is provided in a demand-responsive mode (i.e., the person with a disability must make a telephone call to arrange service).
The goal of the paratransit program is to ensure that all Americans have access to transit to meet basic mobility needs. The passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 recognized that people with disabilities have the same rights as other citizens to access services and facilities that are available to the public, including transportation. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is responsible for the enforcement of ADA's transportation requirements.
Since most true paratransit services are subsidized by federal, state or county governments, or other municipal agencies, users must be able to meet one of the following three eligibility requirements. (Note: Individuals may be eligible for paratransit on the basis of a permanent or temporary disability. The individual must meet one of the three eligibility criteria, whether permanently or for a limited period of time.)
Again, since most true paratransit services are subsidized, the cost to the rider can be very low, as opposed, for example, to the cost of an accessible commercial taxi or limousine service, which provides door-to-door service but does not qualify as a true paratransit service. It should be noted that Medicare does not pay for transportation services except in the case of emergency.
When you contact a paratransit service through one of the methods outlined below, you should specifically request information about such things as cost per trip, advance notice requirements, scheduling of return transportation, etc.
To Find Local Public Transportation and Paratransit Services
Consult your local telephone book. Most telephone books have a special section in the front of the book containing contact information for community service organizations. Look under "Disabled" and "Transportation" for the names of agencies that provide transportation for special needs. If necessary, look under the same headings in the yellow pages. If this proves unsuccessful, contact your local transit authority or municipal bus service operator for referral to the complementary service they are required by the ADA to provide.
Contact the Area Agency on Aging's Eldercare Locator. Call their toll-free number at 800/677-1116. Locator information is available Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (ET). For calls made after normal hours of operation, a message recorder is available for the caller to leave a name and a telephone number. These calls will be returned the next business day. The locator staff may provide the phone number of the actual paratransit service or may provide the phone numbers for your local and/or state Area Agency on Aging or "Help Line," which, in turn, can provide the needed paratransit contact information.
Contact the National Transit Hotline. This organization can provide the names of local transit providers who receive federal money to provide transportation to seniors and people with disabilities. Call toll-free at 800/527-8279.
Contact Easter Seals Project ACTION. If you have Internet access, you can go to http://projectaction.easterseals.com/site/PageServer?pagename=ESPA_homepage and access the Accessible Travel Database. Through this site, people with disabilities can easily assess the availability of accessible transportation anywhere in the country. The transportation database allows you to highlight the state and city in which you live or where you plan to visit and view the addresses and telephone numbers of all transportation services available to you there.
Other Sources of Information:
American Public Transit Association (APTA)
Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL)
Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA)
Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
National Transit Institute (NTI)
National Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP)
Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association (TLPA)
United We Ride
Contents of referenced Websites are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Amputee Coalition/NLLIC. The use of trade names is for identification only and does not constitute endorsement by the Amputee Coalition/NLLIC.