What is ADA complementary paratransit?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires public transit agencies, like TAPS Public Transit, that provide fixed-route service to provide “complementary paratransit” service to people with disabilities who cannot use the fixed-route bus because of a disability.
com·ple·men·ta·ry ˌkämpləˈment(ə)rē/ adjective: complementary: combining in such a way as to enhance or emphasize the qualities of each other or another
The ADA regulations specifically define a population of customers who are entitled to this service as a civil right. The regulations also define minimum service characteristics that must be met for this service to be considered equivalent to the fixed-route service it is intended to complement.
Service characteristics: In general, ADA complementary paratransit service must be provided within 3/4 of a mile of a bus route or rail station, at the same hours and days, for no more than twice the regular fixed route fare.
While the transit agency is required to provide paratransit for trips with origins and destinations within 3/4 of a mile of a route/station, paratransit eligible customers who are outside the service area could still use the service if they are able to use get themselves into the service area.
The ADA further requires that paratransit rides be provided to all eligible riders if requested any time the previous day. The ADA allows providers to negotiate trip times with the customer, but no more than an hour before or an hour after the requested time.
Eligibility: The ADA regulations provide three categories of paratransit eligibility. All three categories include people who may be able to ride fixed route transit for some trips and not for other trips, and eligibility may be conditional based on the person’s ability to ride fixed route for certain trips.
The eligibility determination process for ADA complementary paratransit is developed by the transit system in consultation with the local community. To qualify for this service, it is necessary to submit an application, and also requires supporting documentation, and may include an in-person interview and/or an in-person assessment of the applicant’s ability to use fixed route service. Some transit systems have more rigorous processes and strictly limit eligibility to those people who are functionally unable to ride fixed route service.
Can a person with a disability who lives outside of the designated ADA complementary paratransit service area apply for ADA paratransit eligibility?
Yes. Individuals who live outside of the ADA complementary paratransit service area, or even outside of the transit agency’s jurisdiction, can still apply for ADA paratransit eligibility. Their applications will be accepted and considered. This includes persons visiting from other transit districts as well as persons who live just beyond the borders of the transit agency or in other areas where no public transit service is provided. These persons may be able to get to the ADA paratransit service area on their own and would then be able to ask for paratransit service.