Thursday, April 2

UTA Raising Rates?

UTA is considering raising rates for the Handicapped service, Paratransit. These are currently the same as regular bus rates, which is (of course) absurd, considering the difference in service actually provided.

From UTA:
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.

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.
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.

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.

2 comments:

  1. So if you don't live within 3/4 miles of a regular route, you get no service? If you do live that close, it's not so hard to get to the regular bus. I see people cruising all around town in their wheelchairs, especially the electric ones. So I am confused and not sure I have got this right.

    Is it supposed to take the rider from their home to the bus? If so, this explains the 3/4 mile rule, but I am still not sure I see the point.

    Not everyone gets disabled while living so close to a bus; that's only 6 blocks, nor can they all afford to move there. So what's a handicapped person to do?

    But then again, don't get me started on Special Olympics--I'm totally not PC on that!

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  2. You've got it right. Trouble is, what UTA is currently doing isn't "Paratransit," it is "Almost-Free Taxi Service for the Disabled," which isn't really the same thing. Paratransit is supposed to take you to the nearest route, but lately it will take them just about anywhere, for the same price, which is very expensive.

    Also, it isn't just used by those in wheelchairs; in fact, they rarely qualify, as they have a super easy way to get to the bus.

    According to Transit in Utah, another blog, they spend almost $40 per person for Paratransit, compared to a bit over $2 for Trax and a bit over $3 for the bus. This makes it so that fares don't even come remotely close to paying for it, and probably won't even when fares go up.

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