Since implementing paratransit service in 1988, UTA has gone above and beyond for its riders with disabilities, providing service beyond what is required by ADA. The agency continued to provide service beyond the 3/4-mile rule, and has kept Paratransit fares lower than the amount allowed by ADA.Basically... we've been trying. Money is tight, though, and getting tighter, and something has to give. Paratransit is what we've chosen, because what we do is stupid and wasteful.
Paratransit ridership has grown significantly, but funding to support the expensive premium service has not.
The current economic downturn has significantly impacted UTA; sales tax revenues in 2008 were $18 million lower than projected.
They are, thus, proposing to drop service down to the minimum level required by law. This means that para-transit only picks people up within 3/4 miles of a regular, fixed, daily route. This doesn't include express buses, ski buses, or anything else weird. It does include TRAX/MAX. They will also remove discounts for Paratransit, and charge double the regular fare (making it cost $4).
Personally, I think this is both good and bad. Living as a disabled person must be difficult, but Paratransit has (frankly) been abused as a system. Rather than adding accessibility to the regular routes, it has been more of a personal taxi system for almost no cost. A massive portion of the budget goes to this program, with almost no benefits gained from it.
What can the disabled do? If they live in the suburbs, very little. Get a ride. Get a taxi. Contact UDOT and make them pay for it, they are ultimately far more responsible for the situation than UTA is, and have significantly deeper pockets.
Is that cold of me? Probably.
But let's be honest: UTA shouldn't be expected to solve all transit related issues, and then be given no budget to do it with.