AAATA Extends SelectRide Paratransit Contract

The Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority contract for paratransit services with SelectRide has been extended nine months, through April 30, 2015. The value of the contract for the extension period is $2,263,000. That’s essentially a pro-rated amount of SelectRide’s current contract, which ran through July 31, 2014. AAATA board action came at its Dec. 19, 2013 meeting.

Just six months ago, the board had authorized the final year of a three-year contract with SelectRide – at its July 23, 2013 meeting. Board deliberations at that meeting indicated that negotiations on that $3,016,871 contract with SelectRide had been difficult, and had been completed under time pressure with no feasible alternative to SelectRide.

The contract extension comes in the context of the need to issue a request for proposals for the service, and the AAATA’s possible implementation of a five-year transit improvement plan. The AAATA is currently contemplating a substantial revision to the paratransit program and wants to take the time needed to develop a request for proposals (RFP). The AAATA wants to ensure that there’s no interruption in paratransit service.

In the context of the five-year transit improvement program that the AAATA might implement, the paratransit service would, according to the AAATA, include “later weekday service hours, later weekend service hours, and access to destinations like the Pittsfield Branch of the Ann Arbor Public Library, the Ypsilanti District Library, Meijer (Carpenter Road), Kroger (Whittaker Road), Walmart, and Quality 16 Movie Theater.”

The AAATA’s implementation of the five-year plan depends on funding that will likely be sought through an additional millage sometime in 2014, which would require approval of a majority of voters in the three jurisdictions making up the AAATA – the city of Ann Arbor, the city of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township.

The provision of complementary paratransit service for people with disabilities – as an alternative to the fixed-route service – is a requirement of the Federal Transit Administration under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Public transportation agencies must provide special service to those with disabilities that is “comparable to the level of service provided to individuals without disabilities who use the fixed route system.”

The paratransit service is required to be offered within a corridor 3/4 mile on either side of a fixed bus route. Comparable service is defined as a demand-response service from door to destination, in which the public transit agency schedules and provides paratransit service to an eligible person for a request made the previous day. The fare that can be charged for the paratransit service can’t be more than twice what the fare would be for a similar trip taken on the fixed-route system. [.pdf of Federal Transit Administration Section 7 of Title 49 on "Transportation Services for Individuals with Disabilities"]

The AAATA fulfills its obligation under the ADA through its A-Ride program. In addition to trips that can be arranged at least one day in advance for a $3 fare [which is twice the $1.50 full fare for regular fixed-route rides], same-day trips can be arranged through A-Ride for a $4 fare. The higher fare can be charged for those trips, because they are not being offered under the ADA requirement. Some holders of A-Ride passes – who have the right to reserve rides for $3 under the A-Ride program – might also be able to ride the AAATA regular fixed-route system. If they opt to ride the fixed-route system, the A-Ride program allows them to do that without paying a fare.

This brief was filed from the downtown location of the Ann Arbor District Library at 343 S. Fifth Ave., where the AAATA board holds its meetings. A more detailed report will follow: [link]