Living After Stroke: Mobility and Transportation Options After Stroke. The Family of Community Transportation Options

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1 Living After Stroke: Mobility and Transportation Options After Stroke Karen Wolf-Branigin, MSW National Center on Senior Transportation Washington, DC The Family of Community Transportation Options This primer provides an overview of the family of transportation services. A general description is included however services vary widely from community to community. Some options may be available in your location but others will not. These options offer a wide range of alternatives, services, and modes of travel and it s important that you, potential transit customers and other decision makers determine which ones will work best in your community. Bringing new transportation services to a community is very hard work. We thank you for your commitment and wish you the best. 1. Fixed Route This service consists of vehicles (typically buses and in some communities rail) that travel on a predetermined route on a fixed schedule and is available to the population at large. Fixed route systems funded by public monies are required to be accessible (as per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)). Accessibility is illustrated in various ways including wheelchair ramps or lifts, stop announcements at major or requested stops and signage that can be read by people with low vision. 2. Paratransit This is a complementary service that mirrors the fixed route service. It s available only to customers who are deemed eligible through an application process. Eligible customers are those who are unable to use fixed route due to a disabling condition. Age alone will not qualify a customer for Paratransit service. Customers who use Paratransit must make an appointment, will be picked up (at their origin) and dropped off (at their destination) at the curb. Customers must meet the vehicle at the curb without assistance from the Operator. The geographic area served by Paratransit is within ¾ of a mile of the fixed route system. As per the ADA, Paratransit vehicles must be accessible. Page 1 of 6

2 3. Flex Route This is a blend of fixed route and Paratransit service. Vehicles operate on a fixed route, with published bus routes, however vehicles can deviate a short distance from the established route. Some flex route services have operators who will provide door-to-door assistance (versus curb to curb) for customers who need it. Flex Route service is used more often in rural communities without fixed route service and is available to the population at large. 4. Demand Response There are different examples of demand response programs and each entity determines the scope of service. In general demand response programs: Require customers to schedule a trip in advance (e.g. taxi) Provide curb to curb or door to door service Many rural communities have demand response services in lieu of fixed route service. Demand response services operated and/or funded by local governments generally have lower customer fares (since tax dollars pay for much of the service) and demand response services operated by private businesses (e.g. taxis) pass the cost of the ride on to the customer. Accessible taxis are gaining popularity in some communities. 5. Taxi, including accessible taxis Taxis provide individualized service between destinations, which can be arranged in advance or on demand through a dispatcher. Fares vary by provider, are distance or time-based, and, in some cases, are subsidized through a transportation voucher program. Often more expensive than public transit, taxicabs can still be an affordable option when transportation vouchers are applied or when the trip distance/time is very short/brief. Taxi service can be a particularly good fit in areas that are not served by public transit or in situations when the care recipient is unable to travel in a vehicle with other passengers or for extended periods of time. Of course, the availability of taxi service and accessible taxi service (i.e., taxicabs with wheelchair lifts or ramps) in particular, varies by community. 6. Human Service Transportation Many human service agencies that provide services to specific groups of people (e.g. older adults, veterans, and people with disabilities) use vehicles to transport those who participate in their programs. Each agency determines their scope of service. One example is a van that collects people from their homes and brings them to a nutrition site, a Senior Citizen Center for community trip. Page 2 of 6

3 It is not uncommon for these vehicles to be underutilized (e.g. vehicles are not filled to capacity, vehicles sit idle at times). An effort, led by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration is underway to bring together community agencies to talk about their needs and resources so they can pool or coordinate vehicles and provide more rides to more people. 7. Shuttle Service This service provides transportation to a specific group of people for a specific purpose. An example is a downtown business association that operates vehicles, collects passengers at a central location and takes them to their retail establishments and eateries. 8. Volunteer Drivers There are many different examples of volunteer driver programs and each entity determines the scope of service. Some examples include: A service where: o A volunteer drives his/her own vehicle With or without reimbursement for time/expenses o A volunteer who drives an organization s vehicle With or without reimbursement for time A service that: o Provides trips for specific purposes (e.g. medical appointments) o Has a limited geographic range (e.g. in the county) o Provides service to customers who buy-in to the service o Does not charge o Accepts donations 9. Transit Vouchers The use of transit vouchers may not be widespread but offers customer choice regarding transit options. Entities using vouchers set up a system where a customer obtains a voucher, selects a pre-approved transportation provider and uses the voucher to pay for all or part of the trip, depending on rules set up by the entity. Vouchers take many forms including passes, tokens, fare cards, coupon books and electronic smart cards. Entities can include transportation providers, non-profit organizations and others who fund transit services. Page 3 of 6

4 10. Carpool and Vanpool Programs Ride sharing programs including car and van pools are more commonly used for employment rather than leisure travel. Programs range from formal (e.g. State government operates a vanpool for their employees) to informal (e.g. friends join together). 11. Vehicle Sharing Commercial vehicle sharing programs are opening in major U.S. cities. Customers apply to the program, reserve a vehicle, travel to the vehicle, unlock it and drive. Numerous vehicle models (e.g. sedans, trucks) are parked in specified locations and are available for various lengths of time (e.g. hour, day). Fees do apply. 12. Private Vehicle Loan/Purchase/Donation Programs While very limited, some entities provide financial assistance to individuals to purchase or adapt (e.g. add hand controls) vehicles. 13. School Buses Some communities are maximizing the use of school buses, which commonly sit idle during evening and weekend hours. Used for one time events (e.g. group field trip) or as part of regular bus service, this is an option worth exploring in any community. Air Travel The Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 prohibits discrimination by air carriers on the basis of disability. It includes provisions concerning physical facilities and services to be provided to passengers with disabilities. This law is enforced by the U.S. Department of Transportation. For further information, contact: Aviation Consumer Protection Division (800) (voice) (800) (TTY) Page 4 of 6

5 What Airline Employees, Airline Contractors, and Air Travelers with Disabilities Need to Know About Access to Air Travel for Persons with Disabilities A Guide to the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and its implementing regulations, 14 CFR Part 382 (Part 382) Identifying the Best Transportation Option for Your Trip Mobility Management Mobility management is an approach for managing and delivering community transportation services. While many transit services are open to the public (e.g. fixed route service) others have eligibility criteria required by their funders (e.g. Senior Center van that transports people over 65 living in a particular geographic area). This presents a confusing maze of options, rules and regulations. Since Mobility Managers understand each transit service and their rules they can assist individuals in determining which transit options offer the best service. Travel Training Travel training is a set of services designed to teach people how to safely and independently use public transportation. The type and availability of programs vary widely but can include: Orientation to the system (e.g. how to plan a trip, purchase fare, locate stops and stations) Origin to destination training (how to travel on a particular route; identifying the most accessible way to get to/from stops and stations) How to board and deboard vehicles using a lift or ramp Tailored training for an individual or small group Training delivered by: i. Professional travel trainers ii. Volunteers iii. Peers who use understand and use the transit system Page 5 of 6

6 Options Counseling Options counseling is a service promoted by the Administration on Aging. It is an interactive decision-making process that supports individuals and families to make their own, informed choice about the services they want and need. Options counseling provides people with information and the chance to carefully think about the service is right for them at that time. Counselors are expected to listen carefully, answer questions and provide unbiased information. Options Counselors can provide information on a variety of topics, including transportation services. Page 6 of 6

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