By Vicki Greenleaf
Finding a ride or navigating public transit systems may be challenging for people with special needs or seniors with limited mobility, but transportation does not have to be a barrier to participating in life’s daily activities in Southern California.
Perhaps you’re unaware of – or not sure if you quality for – Access Paratransit Services, a low-cost public transportation option – operating in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, northern San Diego and Ventura counties – that provides shared-ride services for individuals with disabilities who are unable or find it difficult to negotiate standard bus and light rail services.
Operating seven-days-a-week/24-hours-a-day in most areas of Los Angeles County and portions of surrounding counties, Access enables people to independently travel where and when they wish, whether it be to a doctor’s appointment, job, place of worship, to visit with friends, do some shopping or take a trip to the movies.
“I like being able to ride by myself. I have my Access card,” says Mike, who travels every weekday from his Beverly Hills home to Easterseals Southern California’s (ESSC) Adult Day Services location in Culver City. “I like to hang out and look for it [to come],” he shares.
Laura has used the Access service for 10 years. Each weekday she has a standing call to take her from her Los Angeles home to ESSC’s ADS site in La Tijera and also utilizes the service for doctor visits. “I can go where I want to go,” she says, noting that the service has increased her freedom because she doesn’t have to rely on friends and family.
The service is available to qualified individuals who must first submit an application and then make an appointment to complete an in-person evaluation, which are offered in English or Spanish. Sign language interpretation will be provided with advance notice and transportation is offered to the meeting. From start to finish, the approval process takes approximately four weeks and may require a doctor’s verification and/or review of medical records.
Once approved, you will receive an Access Rider ID card and be able to start booking trips, but reservations must be made at least one day in advance. Although exact change is required, riders may also buy coupon books to make the payment process turnkey. Individuals may also apply for a standing pick-up order if a ride is needed on the same day and time on an ongoing basis, making going to and from work less complicated.
Access Paratransit is available for any purpose to or from any location within ¾ of a mile of any fixed route bus/train operated by L.A. County or METRO Rail stations during the hours that the systems are operational.
Fare for a one-way trip under 19.99 miles in the Los Angeles Basin is $2.75 per passenger, with a maximum of $3.50 for 20 miles or more. Some higher fees may apply to and from Santa Clarita or the Antelope Valley ($6-7). If a personal care assistant is required, they may accompany the passenger at no additional cost. And service animals are permitted.
Once approved for eligibility to receive an Access card, holders are also given free use of bus and METRO rail fixed-schedule routes. No registration necessary … just show your green Access Rider ID card when you board.
Riders may also participate in the free Travel Training program which provides individualized training on how to safely navigate fixed-route transit in order to increase mobility and gain even more access to independence. Subjects covered include: reading the bus and train schedule; paying your fare; boarding and exciting a bus or train; making transfers; knowing how to signal the driver or conductor to stop or for assistance; securing a wheelchair or other mobility device; knowing how to handle travel disruptions; using appropriate social and communications skills; and making judgments about safety and danger.
For more information or to apply, visit www.accessla.org or call 800-827-0829. For TDD: 800-827-1359.