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Today's read: Cut service for disabled?

MetroAccess cuts considered: When the economy sours, those who are needy and vulnerable suffer most. That sad truth is on display as Metro considers shrinking its MetroAccess paratransit service. It operates the white vans that provide door-to-door transportation for people physically unable to use regular subway or bus service. (Robert McCartney)

My columnist colleague suggests some changes that would tighten up the system and help control the rapidly increasing cost of the transit service for elderly and disabled people. But he notes that one of the richest regions in the nation ought to be able to help people stay as mobile as possible.

"I don't care how we do it," McCartney writes. "I do know that a wealthy community such as ours shouldn't push some of our less advantaged members back into the margins of society just a few years after we invited them to join the mainstream."

The reason that the transit authority staff has grown concerned about MetroAccess is that its costs and ridership are soaring far beyond those of Metrorail and Metrobus. The staff projects that ridership will increase to 3.6 million trips annually by fiscal year 2014. That would be a 50 increase over fiscal year 2010, which ends July 1.

MetroAccess is a pretty good deal compared to the basic minimums required under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA requires transit agencies to provide service up to three-quarters of a mile from their fixed routes. Riders must be provided with curb to curb service, the ADA says.

Metro provides service beyond the minimum range, and it's door to door. The MetroAccess operating budget has increased from about $60 million to $80 million this year. It could reach $100 million in fiscal 2011. Under ADA rules, riders can be charged up to twice the comparable fixed-route fare. Under Metro rules, riders pay only $2.50 for a one-way trip. That covers 5 percent of the cost.

I think the MetroAccess fare has to go up, along with that of Metrorail and Metrobus, and that eligibility enforcement should be tightened. But Metro -- and the region that subsidizes MetroAccess -- don't need to go for the higher-end fare proposals or the ADA minimum on the service areas. We still can do better than that.

By Robert Thomson  |  April 15, 2010; 8:15 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, MetroAccess  
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Comments

As with many things regarding WMATA, management takes many cost saving measures off the table because they would change the way WMATA operates and would require creative thinking. It is much easier to use the threat of cutting service to the disabled to get more money.

Here is a very column by Penny Everline who has given a lot of thought to how MetroAccess operates and how to improve it:
http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post.cgi?id=5528

Posted by: KS100H | April 15, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: Penny Everline is a very active and thoughtful advocate for transit services. She's a hard-working member of Metro's Riders' Advisory Council.

Posted by: Dr_Gridlock | April 15, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Well then, increase the fares to the ADA double amount (and increase them every year), only run one shuttle every 20 minutes, stop any service outside the 3/4 limit, and then the MetroAccess folks will be treated just like the Metro Rail/Bus folks. Yea equality!

Posted by: Greent | April 15, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I think they should raise fares. From Shady Grove to DC they shouldn't be charging double a bus fare when 99% of people making that trip do it by train. They should charge twice the train fare, or $9.

Posted by: thetan | April 15, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

I think they should raise fares. From Shady Grove to DC they shouldn't be charging double a bus fare when 99% of people making that trip do it by train. They should charge twice the train fare, or $9.

Posted by: thetan | April 15, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

What is Metro Access doing that is worth $100 a trip? We'd be better off paying for cabs or grocery deliveries than this giant cesspool of waste.

Posted by: jiji1 | April 15, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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