The paratransit service is destination-to-destination transportation for people with disabilities, mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). DMT's paratransit service is operated by CRIS Rural Mass Transit District under contract. DMT pays CRIS $11.21 for every paratransit trip taken in Danville and Tilton.
DMT director John Metzinger says the change will place a greater burden of the cost to provide the service upon the rider, which he says is both fair and good stewardship of public resources. "ADA allows transit providers to charge up to twice the base fixed-route fare for paratransit," said Metzinger. Since DMT charges $1.00 for fixed route rides, it is allowable under ADA to charge $2.00 per trip.
To lighten the burden on riders, DMT proposes to offer paratransit riders free rides on fixed route buses. While paratransit riders have disabilities which usually prevent them from using the fixed route bus, Metzinger says fixed route buses are accessible with ramps and wheelchair securements. Free rides may be an incentive for some to try fixed route buses. Each time a rider chooses fixed route service instead of paratransit the city will save $11.21.
A benefit of using fixed route buses is that riders can go when they want instead of scheduling trips a day in advance. Metzinger said use of fixed route buses is more convenient, and aligns with the goal of ADA, which is to mainstream people with disabilities by improving access and mobility.
The next step is to present the proposals in Public Hearings to collect feedback from riders and the community. Public Hearings are scheduled at the following times:
· Thursday, February 21, 5-6PM in Lower Level Community Room at City Hall
· Friday, February 22, 10-11AM in Lower Level Community Room at City Hall
· Friday, March 1, 8-9AM at CRIS Senior Services, 309 N. Franklin St., Danville
Depending on the outcome of these meetings, Metzinger may take the proposal to the city council for consideration in March, and could implement the changes in May.
To make a comment about the proposal contact DMT at http://www.ridedmt.org/comments.html .