ADA Paratransit: Customer Rights and Responsibilities

ADA Paratransit: Customer Rights and Responsibilities

ADA paratransit is a shared ride service for people with disabilities who are unable to use public transportation (bus or rail) for some or all of their public transportation needs due to a disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires transit agencies to provide paratransit services to people with disabilities who cannot use the fixed route bus or rail service. ADA paratransit service must be provided within 3/4 of a mile of a bus route or rail station, at the same hours and days, for no more than twice the regular fixed route fare. The ADA further requires that paratransit rides be provided to all eligible riders if requested any time the previous day, within an hour of the requested time.

MetroAccess provides the ADA paratransit for the Washington metropolitan area, which includes the counties of Fairfax, Arlington, Montgomery, and Prince Georges, the cities of Fairfax, Falls Church, and Alexandria; and the District of Columbia. 

Eligibility Process

The eligibility requirements for ADA paratransit are:

  • A disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act and be unable, as a result of the disability, to use regular fixed-route public transportation such bus or rail; or
  • The need to use a ramp or wheelchair lift to board or exit an accessible transportation vehicle, but an accessible public vehicle is not available at the time, date, and on the route you need to travel; or
  • Be unable to travel to or from the bus stop or rail station due to a disability. 

To determine eligibility for ADA paratransit, you must complete an application and have it certified by a health care professional. 

It is important to carefully document all medical conditions and disabilities that would prevent you from using bus or rail.  There is no limit to the documentation that can be presented. For example, detailed statements from a disability service provider like a case manager, as well as the health care professional should clearly explain how the disability or its symptoms/effects prevent using the bus or rail. Additional documentation could include a personal journal or log that documents the impact of travel or a detailed listing of barriers that prevent traveling to the fixed route stop or station.

MetroAccess Eligibility
There are four ways to request and obtain an application:

  1. By emailing
  2. Downloading an application
  3. Requesting an application by mail: Metro Transit Accessibility Center, 600 Fifth Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
  4. Calling 202-962-2700, TTY 202-628-8973

After you complete the application, call 202-962-2700 and select option 5 (TTY 202-962-2033) for an assessment.  All assessments are in-person at the Metro Transit Accessibility Center. If needed, MetroAccess will provide transportation to the interview/assessment for free. 

At the assessment, MetroAccess will determine eligibility based on how the disability impacts the applicant’s functional ability to use public transportation, including the applicant’s independent travel skills and the ability to walk or travel a measured distance.

Types of Eligibility
There are three different types of eligibility for using ADA paratransit like MetroAccess. 

  • Unconditional: Customers can use ADA paratransit for all trips (unable to use bus or rail)
  • Conditional: Customers can use ADA paratransit  for some trips/trip-by-trip (able to ride bus or rail  for some trips or under certain conditions)
  • Temporary: Customers can use ADA paratransit for a time-limited basis, based on a short term disability

Eligibility Determination
Within 21 days of the assessment, applicants will receive written notification of the outcome of the assessment. Applicants found to be ineligible may reapply in 120 days. 

Appealing an Eligibility Determination
An applicant who is found not eligible for ADA paratransit has the right to file an appeal within 60 days. Additional information pertinent to the applicant’s disability should be submitted, along with reasons the applicant believes he/she should be eligible. Within 30 days after receiving the appeal request, the ADA paratransit service will notify the applicant of the date and time of the appeals hearing.   

If the appeal is denied and applicant believes that the eligibility process is flawed or unfair, a complaint can be filed with the Federal Transit Administration.  

Personal Care Attendants (PCA)
All paratransit customers have the right to travel with one personal care attendant (PCA) and should indicate his/her intent to do so when making a trip reservation. While the customer is required to pay the full fare, the PCA can ride free. Additionally, customers may also reserve a space for a traveling companion such as a friend or family member (not a PCA) who must also pay the full fare.

Scheduling Trips
ADA paratransit services’ policy for scheduling trips varies so check with the specific entity before scheduling. 

Service Area for ADA Paratransit
ADA paratransit must provide service for trips that are within ¾ of a mile from bus or rail service during the corresponding days and times of service for bus or rail. For example, if you live ½ of a mile from a bus service that runs Monday-Friday, ADA paratransit does not have to provide service on the weekends. 

MetroAccess provides trips within corridors with a width of ¾ of a mile on each side of a bus or Metrorail route within Metro’s core service area. Service will also be provided to small areas not inside any of the corridors, but which are surrounded by corridors. Rides are offered in the same service areas and during the same hours of operations as bus and Metrorail routes.

Customer Pick-up and Drop-off
ADA paratransit must provide curb-to-curb service, but some ADA paratransit, including MetroAccess, provides door-to-door service, which means that the driver will meet and escort the customer from the outermost exterior door of the customer’s pick-up address and onto the vehicle, and from the vehicle to the outermost exterior door of the customer’s drop-off address. 

MetroAccess door-to-door policy requires that the outermost exterior door be no more than 150 feet from the vehicle; the vehicle must be within the driver’s sight at all times; there must be safe access from the vehicle to the door; there must be a safe parking space; and the parked vehicle must not block or impede traffic. If any of these conditions are not met, MetroAccess will provide curb-to curb service.

Fare Price
ADA paratransit can charge customers twice the comparable fastest fare on bus or rail. For MetroAccess, the fare is twice the fastest comparable fixed-route fare, with a maximum of $6.50 per one-way trip. Full and exact payment is required for all trips.

Applying for Visitor’s Status
Customers who are eligible for ADA paratransit service in their local area can use ADA paratransit service when visiting other cities where it is provided. Service can be provided for any combination of 21 days during any 365 day period. 

To apply for visitor’s status, contact the ADA paratransit service in the area you are visiting and ask what materials are required to receive visitor’s status.  

Visitors who do not have ADA paratransit in their home area and who are unable to use accessible fixed route transportation because of disability will need to have their health care provider provide a certification of disability as well as the above information. 

In all cases, you should submit the request for visitor’s status at least three weeks in advance of the visit to provide adequate time to process the request.



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