At SaveMuni’s May 16th meeting, SFMTA Paratransit Coordinator Jonathan Cheng briefed the group on San Francisco’s paratransit program and the services it provides. The program operates for 365 days a year and is designed for people who do not have the ability to ride ordinary Muni buses. It has 13,500 registered riders. The SFMTA’s Paratransit program is comprised of “SF Access”, a “Shop Around” program and a taxi service.
1.) “SF Access” takes ADA eligible riders to any destination within the Muni service area, but sometimes requires one or more transfers between vehicles. Riders must schedule their “SF Access” trips at least 24 hours in advance but can if they desire schedule their trip up to seven days in advance. Approximately 87% of all “SF Access” trips are on-time. A trip is considered on time when the rider is picked up within the 20 minute window, which extends from 5 minute before and 15 minutes after the scheduled pick up time.
2.) Group Shuttles: There are also regularly scheduled group shuttles to certain designated facilities, which saves riders time and is often paid for by the facilities themselves. For instance a “Shop-A-Round” service takes elderly and disabled people to stores and helps them do their shopping. The Shop-a-Round program is not federally mandated but is available to all (65+) seniors as well as to ADA eligible individuals with RTC cards
3.) Taxi Service. ADA eligible paratransit users are also provided with a limited amount of door-to-door taxi service every month. Cab companies are not required to have handicapped-accessible vehicles, but do receive a $10 bonus per trip, and other incentives, for providing the service. As with the other services, taxi drivers must be able to assist users in getting back and forth between the doors of their origins and destinations and the taxi.
As was discussed at the SaveMuni meeting, the SFMTA’s “Muni Forward” program includes plans to increase the spacing between many of Muni’s bus stops. It does not take much imagination to see that longer walks to bus stops will increase the need for and importance of City Paratransit services. For this reason SaveMuni recommends that:
a.) Paratransit work closely with Muni Forward planners to ensure that its services are expanded in a timely manner as needed to compensate for a revised regular Muni service that will be less convenient for the elderly and handicapped.
b.) Paratransit place a high priority on installing modern hi-tech communication equipment as required to improve reliability and reduce waiting times.
c.) Paratransit be provided with the financial resources and management assistance needed to achieve these objectives.