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Saturday, September 3, 2016

Chicago Area Families Step Forward With More Complaints About Pace Paratransit

Chicago – Earlier this week, CBS 2 brought you the story of a teen with autism who was stranded or brought to the wrong address by Paratransit.

Now, more families have come forward, with similar stories.

CBS 2 News Chicago - Suzanne Le Mignot has this follow up report |Sept.2, 2016
Elaine Reeves Haywood’s son, Malcolm, has autism.

The 21-year-old talks only when someone speaks to him. Haywood says she relies on Paratransit to pick her son up from school and summer camp at McGuane Park. She says the public transportation service under Pace has been late – in one case more than two hours – on three occasions in the past several weeks.

“And when the driver finally did get to my son, his response to me was, ‘I’m so sorry. I just got this call ten minutes ago,’” the parent says.

Haywood and several others shared their concerns through cell phone video.

Former Paratransit driver Carolyn Trull says the dispatching of extra trips causes the late arrival times.

“They would schedule you a trip, almost at your get-off time,” she says.

Trull adds: “They would add trips on you, in between trips.”

Says Haywood: “The parents, you know, raising the issue with the company, I hope it has some impact on the service getting better.”

Pace, which runs Paratransit Service, says its “on time” rate is 89 percent, acknowledging that means 2,000 trips a day will be late.

Pace says it cannot refuse a ride by law and that contributes to time issues.
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UPDATE - Sept 9, 2016

investigated report by Suzanne Le Mignot for CBS2 News Chicago
CHICAGO (CBS2 News) – PACE responded to multiple CBS 2 reports of Paratransit concerns of delayed pickups or neglect to pick up.

PACE oversees Paratransit, which provides rides for the disabled. Last month, CBS 2 had original reports on Paratransit not picking up riders on time, or in comes cases at all. One case even involved an Autistic teenager. Some cases passengers are unable to talk and fend for themselves, CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports.

Melinda Metzger is Head of Operations for Pace and agreed to speak with CBS 2 about the concerns raised in previous reports.

“We’re public transportation,” said Melinda Metzger, PACE head of Operations. “We want them to get from where they are going, safely.”

Major concerns to parents were very late pick up times or no shows, by drivers. By law, Paratransit cannot deny a ride.

Pace said its “on time” rate is 89 percent, acknowledging that means 2,000 trips a day will be late.

“I’m concerned that he may get lured away by a predator, might get hurt,” said Rose McDonough, parent of Autistic teen and Paratransit rider, Michael McDonough.

Pace says it has a “No Strand” policy, in which the company says it, “will never leave passengers stranded away from their home if they were scheduled for a paratransit ride that day.”

I have a professional staff who is really concerned about what’s going on here, Metzger said.

Other parents raised the question of Paratransit considering scheduling rides more than a day in advance, to allow more accurate scheduling of employees, to cover all trips.

“If we’re booking two days in advance, are we going to have more cancellations, because that also plays havoc with the system,” said Metzger. “So it’s something we’re looking at and going to attempt to do.”

Metzger allowed CBS 2 into the PACE scheduling and monitoring center, where every ride taken is tracked. She is also able to monitor developments, from her office.

“It’s real time,” Metzger said. “Our dispatchers can look at it and adjust trips.”

Metzger said she is looking at adding more carriers to routes.

The PACE Board of Directors will vote next week to reduce the taxi fare from $5 to $3 for Paratransit users.
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Chicago Autistic Teen Left Behind By Pace Paratransit Driver

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