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Nation’s Paratransit System Lacks Oversight


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As demand increases for accessible transportation, a new government report finds that little is known about how well paratransit services are provided.

The number of door-to-door trips conducted for people with disabilities by the nation’s public transit agencies increased 7 percent between 2007 and 2010, according to a review from the Government Accountability Office released this month. At the same time, costs jumped 10 percent to an average of $29.30 per trip.

Despite increased use, however, GAO investigators found that the federal government is doing little to ensure that transit agencies are providing services in compliance with the law. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, paratransit for people with disabilities is supposed to be comparable to the level of traditional fixed-route offerings available.

Though there are hundreds of transit agencies across the country, just two to three get selected for a review of their ADA compliance each year by the Federal Transit Administration. Self-reporting by the agencies is inconsistent, GAO found. And, of the agencies that were reviewed by federal officials between 2005 and 2011, every one of them was found to have deficiencies in their ADA-related services.

GAO investigators are recommending that federal transportation officials be more transparent about their process of reviewing ADA compliance of paratransit and offer further guidance to local agencies with regard to self-reporting.

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