Innovative strategies for managing the increasing costs of paratransit operations under the Americans with Disabilities Act
Author(s)Davis, Allison H. (Allison Heather), 1974-
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
Frederick P. Salvucci and Ralph Gakenheimer.
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When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990, transit agencies saw a fundamental shift in the requirements of service for the disabled. Among other obligations, they were required to provide door-to-door service (paratransit) for those unable to use fixed route services. The disabled community viewed this as a basic entitlement. Public transit saw this as another responsibility. A decade later, transit agencies are struggling to provide the service to a growing number of users under greater financial pressures and the disabled community is still awaiting a basic level of mobility. This thesis reviews how mobility and accessibility came to be viewed as a right by summarizing US legislation since 1964 with regards to transportation and disabilities; examines the current state of paratransit and its funding levels; identifies and evaluates paratransit's costs throughout the US and their implications; and proposes a three pronged approach of institutional, financial and internal strategies that transit agencies can invoke to manage the delivery and finances of paratransit. There is no single strategy that can completely alleviate the financial pressures of paratransit services and provide improved services. First and foremost, with the reauthorization of TEA-21 approaching, transit agencies and disabled advocates should mobilize a coalition of paratransit stakeholders to approach the federal government and make a case for federal funding of paratransit services. By acknowledging that paratransit is a fundamental part of the surface transportation system and funding it as such, this would effectively spread its responsibilities over the entire transportation system, instead of only public transit. This could be funded, in part, by modifying the federal gasoline tax or other inputs to the Highway Trust Fund. Additionally, from a regional or state perspective, gas and parking taxes can be modified to help fund paratransit services. Thus, in order to provide the level of mobility that was promised to the millions of disabled citizens in the ADA, the federal government must step in and assist transit agencies in operating the service. Without this support, transit agencies will continue to provide low quality paratransit services under immense financial stress and the disabled community's mobility needs will constantly be placed on a second tier when compared to that of nondisabled citizens.
Thesis (M.C.P. and S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, February 2003.Includes bibliographical references (p. 150-158).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.