The region’s public transit service for the disabled suffers from several shortcomings that could be remedied with some simple solutions, shows a report released today by the Transportation Planning Board (TPB) housed at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
The report, “Improving Demand Responsive Services for People with Disabilities in the Washington Region,” was approved today for transmission to WMATA. It is the first comprehensive study of the MetroAccess system operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. An active study steering committee comprised of wide range of stakeholders guided the study. Committee participants included persons with disabilities, the WMATA Office of MetroAccess and local paratransit providers and human service agencies.
“The purpose of this study is to review innovative practices and to provide recommendations to the Metro Board,” said Kathryn Porter, chair of the TPB Access for All Advisory Committee. “Some of the problems becoming evident now are actually manifestations of longer term issues. We hope the Board will take a look at the recommendations we’re making and really take them into consideration.”
The report identifies shortcomings in existing paratransit services from the perspective of customers, human service agencies, and transportation providers. They include:
Poor communication with customers;
Late pick-ups and excessively long travel times;
No same-day service;
Lack of wheelchair-accessible cabs;
Inadequate handling of customer complaints.
The TPB’s Access for All Advisory Committee is recommending that MetroAccess upgrade its informational resources, improve handling of customer complaints, develop a users group, provide same-day taxi service to users, and have an agency independent of Metro conduct on-going reviews.
The advisory committee requested the study in 2004 in response to concerns raised by MetroAccess customers over the program’s reliability.
Click here for the full report.