BY JENNIFER BAILEY
Members of the public have a chance to voice their opinions on a proposed Danville Mass Transit rate hike for paratransit riders.
DMT Director John Metzinger informed aldermen this week that DMT is proposing to increase the fare per Americans with Disabilities Act paratransit trip from $1.60 to $2. The increase is to help offset rising costs. The price of the five-ride ticket would increase from $8 to $10.
To “soften the blow,” according to Metzinger, DMT also proposes to offer free fixed-route bus rides to riders who are ADA- certified for use of paratransit, as an incentive for these riders to use fixed-route buses when possible.
The paratransit service is destination-to-destination transportation for people with disabilities, mandated by the 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.
Metzinger said 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 in a press release.
Since DMT charges $1 for fixed route rides, it is allowable under ADA to charge $2 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 said fixed route buses are accessible with ramps and wheelchair securements.
During some days and conditions, such as a sunny day, some paratransit riders could ride a fixed route bus, he added.
Free rides may be an incentive for some to try fixed route buses too, he said. 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 proposal is being presented in public hearings during the next two weeks to collect feedback from riders and the community.
The last time DMT increased fares was in 2008, Metzinger added.
Depending on the outcome of the meetings, Metzinger could take the proposal to the city council for consideration in March.
The increased rate could go into effect in May.
To make a comment about the proposal, contact DMT at http://www.ridedmt.org/comments.html.
Upcoming public hearings on the proposed bus rate increase for paratransit riders: