Metro Mobility is vital for persons with disabilities who need a paratransit service that will allow them to be active in the community. The Metropolitan Center for Independent Living supports the continued operation of the Metro Mobility system.
Metro Mobility is a public transit service, not a social service program. The fares charged for the paratransit service must be reasonable and affordable for the riders. It is also expected that these fares reflect service costs and be tied to the fixed route fare. Paratransit fares must be no greater than twice the base fare for fixed route service.
Metro Mobility must be viewed as part of the entire metropolitan area’s public transit system. The Regional Transit Board (RTB) should adopt policies to integrate Metro Mobility with other transit options available to persons with disabilities.
We believe that if we support only Metro Mobility, we would not be supporting the independent living philosophy which is based on the inclusion and integration of persons with disabilities in society. The current approach has built in disincentives for persons who would like to use other accessible transit options.
The RTB must look at all of its transit options, work to make them accessible and more available to persons with disabilities, and allow riders to choose from among the existing alternatives. RTB policy needs to recognize Metro Mobility as one component of the accessible transit system and present all options to potential riders.
MCIL’s role is to offer suggestions based on an integrated transit system that will give potential riders the flexibility to address their individual needs. We view the riders as consumers of public transit services who need to place themselves in the context of the entire transit system. We should encourage each person to use those transit services which work best for them and are the most appropriate. The accessible regular route service provides more independence and flexibility for those who can use it. For those who cannot, there are other options they can consider, including Metro Mobility.
The choice of options is in the hands of the rider. The RTB should expect that the riders will decide which options are best suited to meet their individual needs. This choice may change each day depending upon destination, weather, or schedule.
MCIL supports efforts to reduce Metro Mobility costs to the rider through the introduction of discount coupons, based upon the fare adopted by the RTB.
Other methods to reduce these costs should be considered. These include:
• Waiving the fixed route fare for a limited period of time as routes become accessible and as an incentive for persons to become familiar with this transit option.
• Allowing for transfers between Metro Mobility and the accessible fixed route service without charging full fare for each of these transit options. This is intended to encourage shorter Metro Mobility trips for those who do not live near an accessible fixed route.
• Marketing alternatives to Metro Mobility, such as local circulator systems.
There are, no doubt, additional solutions which would work well to accommodate the individual needs of all riders. MCIL encourages open discussion toward solutions and is anxious to talk with others as we work toward improving and expanding upon accessible transit options for persons with disabilities.