ADA Paratransit: Customer Rights and Responsibilities

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
ADA paratransit is a shared ride service for people with disabilities who are unable to use regular accessible public transportation (bus or rail) for some or all of their public transportation needs due to a disability. 

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 being used 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 having an active license or credential (a physician, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, optometrist (visual disabilities), podiatrist (foot and ankle disabilities), or a clinical psychologist (psychiatric disabilities). 

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; a detailed listing of access barriers that prevent traveling to the fixed route stop or station; and could even include financial limitations on the ability to adequately prepare for fixed route travel.

For 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. Requesting an application in person at Metro Transit Accessibility Center, 600 Fifth Street NW, Washington, DC 20001 

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 free of charge. 

At the assessment, MetroAccess will determine eligibility based on how the disability impacts the applicant’s functional ability to use regular accessible public transportation; this will include 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.  A written complaint can be submitted to:

Director, FTA Office of Civil Rights
East Building - 5th floor TCR
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

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 rides 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. 

For MetroAccess 
Reservations can be made two ways:

  1. By calling MetroAccess at 301-562-5360 (TTY 301-588-7535) and pressing 1 for reservations; or
  2. Scheduling online at  Customers use their MetroAccess customer ID number to login and the 8-digit date of birth (mmddyyyy) as a password. 

Reservations can be made 7 days a week between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and trips can be scheduled between one and seven days in advance. Same day service is not available. Customers should schedule a return trip at the same time and provide as much detail as possible, to include whether a personal care attendant will travel as well as exact addresses for pick-up and drop-off locations. It is recommended that you provide a cell phone number is case the driver has difficulty finding you. 

MetroAccess schedules ride pickups within a 30-minute pick-up window to allow for traffic and other delays. Customers are required to be ready at the beginning of the 30-minute pick-up window. After arriving at the pick-up location within the pick-up window, the MetroAccess driver is only required to wait five minutes. If the customer is not ready to travel or does not appear after the five-minute wait, the customer is considered to be a “no-show” and the driver will leave. 

Customers must cancel their MetroAccess reservations at least two hours before the start of the pick-up window. Cancellations made in less than 2 hours before the pick-up window are considered “late cancellation” and will be assessed ½ a penalty point.

Suspensions for MetroAccess
In any calendar month, a customer who has made reservations for 10 or more trips, and who has “no-showed” or “late cancelled” at least 10% of those trips, and who has accumulated 3 or more penalty points will receive a suspension notice. All suspension periods begin on a Monday. The length of a customer’s suspension is based on the following schedule:

  • Upon the first violation in the calendar year, customer receives a warning letter
  • Second suspension notice - - - - - - - - -- - - -a seven-day suspension
  • Third suspension notice - - - - - - - - - - - - - -a 14-day suspension
  • Fourth suspension notice - - - - - - - - - - - - - a 21-day suspension
  • Fifth and subsequent suspension notice - - - -a 28-day suspension 

No-shows and late-cancellations may be disputed within two business days after the end of the month in which they occur. If a customer has a no-show or a late-cancellation due to circumstances beyond his/her control, customers can call MetroAccess and request it be removed. If removal is denied, customer has the right to file an appeal in writing. A copy of the appeal process is sent to the customer with the suspension notice. 

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
The ADA requires ADA paratransit to 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 must 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 $7.00 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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