In Austin, Capital Metro has instituted a ride share program to meet the transportation needs of people with disabilities at an affordable price.
Getting to work, medical appointments, shopping, and other activities can be challenging for a person with a disability. Without the assistance of a caregiver, family member, or friend, they may have to rely on a private service to help them run errands, or navigate the bus and rail system on their own.
MetroAccess is an on-demand shared ride service for people whose disabilities prevent them from using Capital Metro’s regular bus and rail service.
Applicants must go through an eligibility process which is based on the ADA definition of disability in order to be approved for a MetroAccess ID card.
Eligibility is based on the ADA definition of disability:
- Paratransit eligibility is defined by the ADA (49 CFR PART 37.123) and includes three categories:
- ADA Category 1: A person who is unable to board, ride, or exit any vehicle independently on the fixed route system that is readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.
- ADA Category 2: A person who needs the assistance of a wheelchair lift and one is not available on the fixed route service during the time the individual wishes to travel. (All Capital Metro fixed route vehicles are fully accessible).
- ADA Category 3: A person who has an impairment-related condition that prevents getting to or leaving a bus stop.
Once certified, the card holder can make reservations with MetroAccess through an automated phone system, online, or through the MetroAccess Call Center for travel to work, appointments and other services at a reduced fare.
Trips are scheduled within one hour before or after the requested time, with ride times comparable to Capital Metro’s fixed route bus schedule. MetroAccess ID cards are good for 4 years and can be renewed.
The eligibility process involves four steps:
- Applicant completes a Questionnaire from Capital Metro;
- A medical professional with knowledge of the applicant’s disability completes a Professional Verification;
- Applicant schedules an eligibility appointment; and
- Applicant meets with MetroAccess staff for an in-person interview and orientation.
The applicant must bring their Questionnaire and the Professional Verification with them to the appointment.
Eligibility is based on an individual’s functional ability to use the regular bus and rail system, not on age, or inability to drive, or lack of convenience to city bus services. The medical professional must verify that the applicant has at least one disability and state how that disability affects the applicant’s functional abilities. In some cases, MetroAccess may require a functional assessment conducted by a third party to determine the applicant’s functional abilities.
If you have been denied disability don’t give up! Contact a Disability lawyer at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and get the benefits you deserve.
For those who qualify for the MetroAccess program there are three types of eligibility:
- Unconditional eligibility – Applicant is “unable to access or ride the fixed route system under any reasonable circumstances.”
- Conditional eligibility – Applicant is unable to use the route system some of the time due to certain conditions, such as weather, traffic, or an inaccessible bus stop.
- Transitional eligibility – Applicant has a temporary disability or condition which prevents them from accessing service and are eligible to receive services for a limited amount of time.
The applicant will be notified of approval within 21 calendar days of their interview and issued a photo ID.
They will also be notified about the type of eligibility they are approved for, how long they are eligible and the service level they qualify for (Curb to Curb, Door to Door, Hand to Hand):
- Curb to Curb – Passenger meets the MetroAccess vehicle at the street-side curb.
- Door to Door – The MetroAccess driver assists the passenger from the first doorway at the pick-up location to the vehicle and then from the vehicle to the doorway at the drop-off location.
- Hand to Hand – The MetroAccess driver must contact an appropriate person, such as a caregiver, when picking up or dropping off the passenger; the passenger is never left alone.
In case of a denial or an eligibility status change, the applicant can request an appeal within 60 calendar days of the denial, by contacting the Eligibility Department.
Those who do not meet the eligibility requirements of MetroAccess may still qualify for a Capital Metro Reduced Fare ID if they are unable to use Cap Metro as efficiently as a person who is not disabled.
Applications for a Reduced Fare ID may be obtained at the Capital Metro Transit Store, online, by mail, or calling (512) 389-7475. Similar to the MetroAccess application process, the applicant or their caregiver completes the applicant’s portion of the application while a medical provider completes the verification. Applications must be returned within 30 days of the verification date in person, by mail, or fax. Cap Metro also issues Temporary Reduced Fare IDs for disabilities lasting under three months which can be renewed once. The cost for a Capital Metro Reduced Fare ID is $3 and expires after two years.
Although MetroAccess cannot be compared to private services such as Lyft or taxis, it provides efficient and affordable transportation and allows people with disabilities to live independently.
Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you not able to work due to accident or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
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