Center Identification Number: 77721
Project Title: Impacts of More Rigorous ADA Paratransit Eligibility Assessments on Riders with Disabilities
Phone: (813) 974-1446
Center for Urban Transportation Research
University of South Florida
External Project Contact:
Public Transportation Office / Transit Planning
I. Project Objective/Problem Statement
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) requires fixed route bus and rail transit systems to provide complementary demand-responsive paratransit services to people with disabilities who cannot use fixed route systems due to their disabilities. The ADA and its implementing regulations, issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 1991, describe three eligibility categories and six service criteria that transit agencies must include and meet to comply.
Although the regulation laid out some general parameters for the eligibility determination process, the ADA statute and regulation left great latitude to transit agencies in regard to specific administrative methods that could be used to assess eligibility.
In the ADA’s initial years, most transit agencies employed relatively open and generous eligibility procedures that resulted in most applicants being certified as eligible for ADA paratransit services. Additionally, ADA paratransit programs were commonly combined with other non-ADA community transportation programs, such as senior citizen programs, further blurring the distinction between programs.
Travel demand for ADA related paratransit trips has increased significantly since the implementation of the ADA guidelines in 1991. Annual paratransit ridership has increased from approximately 15 million in 1991 to 73 million in Fiscal Year 2000. FTA grantees reported that almost 45 million were ADA related.
Due to the ever-increasing demand for ADA related paratransit trips, transit agencies have implemented a number of actions related to reducing the costs of this service, including steps to limit the demand through stricter and more complex ADA paratransit eligibility processes.
The disability community has expressed concern to the stricter and more stringent ADA paratransit eligibility determination processes, fearing the loss of mobility for those disabled individuals who may find the new procedures cumbersome to comply with or may be ruled ineligible for the ADA sponsored paratransit services.
Although anecdotal reports that the widespread changes to the nation’s transit systems ADA paratransit eligibility procedures have negatively impacted some segments of the disability community, there has been minimal research to document the practices being used, the resultant changes of these practices on ridership, the impacts on riders with disabilities who have been denied service, or what other mobility alternatives are available to those individuals.
This objective of this research project will be to study the impact of changes to the ADA complementary paratransit eligibility processes, with a specific focus on Florida public transit agencies.
The specific objectives of this research will be to:
achieve these objectives, the following research tasks have been identified:
The investigators will review and summarize previous regulations, documents, and studies related to ADA complementary paratransit eligibility, including but not limited to the 1998 TCRP Synthesis of Transit Practice #30 “ADA Paratransit Eligibility Certification Practices,” the 1993 Volpe National Transit Center’s “Americans with Disabilities Act Paratransit Eligibility Manual”; and the 2006 TranSystems, Inc. and Access Transportation Systems, Inc. Project Action report “Determining ADA Paratransit Eligibility: An Approach, Guidance, and Training Materials.”
Task 2 Documentation of Process, Issues, and Trends
Utilizing and building upon the information gathered in Task 1, this task will prepare an overview and compilation of the ADA complementary paratransit eligibility regulations, a summary of how the transit agencies initially implemented the changes, an overview of recent trends and changes in the demand and associated costs of ADA complementary paratransit services, and the identification of some of the recent changes in the ADA complementary paratransit eligibility processes.
Specific attention will be focused on documenting and quantifying the following:
Task 3 Development and Administration of Survey
Using the findings of Tasks 1 and 2, a survey instrument will be developed to solicit information of actual agency policies and practices related to the ADA complementary paratransit eligibility processes. The survey will be distributed to all Florida fixed route transit systems receiving FTA Section 5307 and FDOT Transit Block grant funding as well as all non-Florida U.S. transit agencies operating over 100 buses.
This effort will take advantage of CUTR’s established contacts and associated work with the Florida Transit Planning Network, the Florida Transit Marketing Network, the Florida Operators Network, the Florida DOT, the Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged, the Florida Public Transportation Association, and committees of the American Public Transportation Association and the Transportation Research Board that CUTR faculty interact with.
The survey responses will be compiled and summarized.
Task 4 Documentation of Practices, Changes and Impacts
Based upon the literature review, survey responses, and other agency contacts, this task will prepare an overview and compilation of the current practices and trends in the ADA complementary paratransit eligibility process.
The information that will be compiled and analyzed includes the following:
Task 5 Case Studies of Selected Agencies
This task will utilize the findings of the previous tasks to identify Florida and national public transportation agencies that made recent significant changes in their ADA complementary paratransit eligibility processes.
A select number of these agencies (up to 12) and their methodologies will be examined in greater depth and documented in succinct case study summaries. This may include on-site visits and/or follow up discussions with key agency representatives.
For each agency selected to be examined in detail, at a minimum the following information will be compiled and summarized:
In addition to the summary of each case study, the investigators will provide a concise recap of all the case studies, compare the findings, and identify commonalities between the systems changes to the ADA complementary paratransit eligibility and the impacts on systems and individuals.
Task 6 Final Report
The final task of the research will summarize the results of the previous tasks in order to develop a report on the “Impacts of More Rigorous ADA Paratransit Eligibility Assessments on Riders with Disabilities.” The report will be designed in a clear, concise summary format that will facilitate easy reading and application by public transit provider professionals. A Power-Point presentation will also be developed to share the project findings with the Florida public transit systems.
CUTR will coordinate the project with the Florida Public Transportation Association (FPTA), the Florida DOT, and the Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged to ensure the scope and activities are consistent with the Florida public transportation industry’s goals and objectives.
It is understood that travel by CUTR, within the budget of the project, will be necessary for collecting information, as well as attending project review meetings and related conferences in order to gather and share information related to the project mission. Particular locations where CUTR staff may travel within the State of Florida include Tallahassee, Tampa, Sarasota, Ft. Myers, Ocala, Orlando, Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami-Dade, and Jacksonville. Travel throughout the U.S. may include Boston, Houston, Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Anaheim, Denver, and Chicago.
Deliverables for this project will include the following:
Monthly Progress Reports – Monthly progress reports will be provided to the FDOT Project Manager and the Research Office. Reports will include the following sections:
Technical Memorandum 1 – Technical Memorandum 1 will summarize the findings of the first four tasks: the literature review; documentation of process, issues and trends, development and administration of survey; and documentation of practices, changes, and impacts.
Technical Memorandum 2 – Technical Memorandum 2, to be submitted at the end of Task 5, will detail the case studies and provide a concise recap of all the case studies, compare the findings, and identify commonalities between the systems’ changes to the ADA complementary paratransit eligibility and the impacts on systems and individuals.
Draft Final Report
The draft final report will be edited for grammar, clarity, organization, and readability prior to submission to the Department for technical approval. The editor providing the review will sign a cover sheet attesting to such review prior to submission. It is expected that a well-written, high-quality report will be submitted. It is understood that reports failing to meet this requirement will summarily be rejected. The only changes allowable between the final draft and the final report will be those changes requested by the Project Manager and the Research Center.
One electronic copy in MS Word format of a Summary of the Final Report will also be provided to FDOT to include the following four sections: Background, Objectives and Supporting Tasks, Finding and Conclusions, and the Benefit of the Project. The Summary shall be a separate document and should be approximately 500 words in length.
All Final Reports shall contain a completed Technical Report Documentation Form #F.1700.7, immediately after the title page.
All Final Reports published shall contain a page after the Report Documentation Form that states the following:
All Final Reports should be bound with a front and back cover that is acceptable to the Department.
NOTE: All written deliverables will be submitted in electronic format to the Project Manager and the Research Center for processing. Electronic reports will be e-mailed to Sandra Bell at email@example.com. Hard copies will be sent to the following address:
Sandra Bell, Research Contracts
IV. Project Schedule
V. Project Budget
Notes: This budget does not reflect any federal participation. The project team will include faculty, students, and secretarial and other support staff who will work directly on the project and whose costs are reflected in the direct costs of the project as listed above. Budget requests includes salaries for clerical and administrative staff, postage, telephone calls, office supplies, general purpose software, subscriptions, and/or memberships.
No equipment is envisioned to be purchased under this project.
On-site interviews with transit agency service planning and operations personnel will occur at up to 12 transit agencies – in-state (8) and out-of-state (4) – and project management meetings in Tallahassee and Tampa. Out of state on-site visits will provide a perspective of leading U.S. transit agencies’ policies and procedures related to ADA complementary paratransit eligibility
Specific details for the project trips (i.e., destinations and travelers) have not been finalized. Those determinations will be made upon the substantial completion of the literature review. Prior to making any trips, the Principal Investigators will contact the FDOT Project Manager to provide details on the researcher traveling and their destinations. Pre-approvals will be provided through email correspondence.
In the event all of the trips are not necessary and/or some of the money budgeted for travel is not expended, such surplus will be reallocated to salaries and benefits with the approval of the FDOT Project Manager.
VIII. Student Involvement
This research project will not utilize any graduate students or other research assistants.
National Center for Transit Research · at the Center For Urban Transportation Research · University of South Florida · 4202 E. Fowler Ave., CUT100 · Tampa, FL 33620-5375 · (813) 974-3120 · (813) 974-5168 · www.nctr.usf.edu · Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org