Disability News Service, Resources, Diversity, Americans with Disabilities Act; Local and National.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Chicago Autistic Teen Left Behind By Pace Paratransit Driver

CHICAGO (CBS) — He’s 17 and has high functioning autism. He relies on Paratransit for transportation. His family says, there’s a problem though. There have been times when his driver, has been a no show.  CBS2’s Suzanne Le Mignot has the story, in this Original Report.

investigated report by Suzanne Le Mignot for CBS2 News Chicago | Aug 31, 2016

Michael McDonough, 17, explains how he felt when the Paratransit van didn’t come to pick him up, after his bowling club ended. He said he was waiting for a few hours for the Pace-operated transportation service, which provides rides for the disabled.

His mother, Rose McDonough, says she’s called Paratransit four times, in the past five months to complain.

In one incident, McDonough says her son was supposed to be dropped off at this school, for morning camp. It’s located at 3121 W. Byron. The driver had the address as “2131.” The numbers were reversed.

In a statement, Pace Paratransit thanked CBS2 for bringing McDonough’s concerns to them, adding they “…want her son’s trips to run smoothly and on time, which they do 93% of the time. While we can’t control a number of factors that can affect public transportation (congestion, weather, etc.), we will monitor her son’s trips closely and work on improving his service.”

Pace says out of the 43 trips the passenger has taken in the past three months, its busses have been 93 percent on time and there hadn’t been a pattern of “excessive lateness or travel time.”

But to Rose, one time is enough.
“I’m concerned that he might be lured away by, you know, a predator. Might get hurt.”
“We have to advocate and let everyone know what is happening,” Rose added.
Paratransit says riders in need of assistance are encouraged to bring a personal care attendant, and that person can ride for free. When trip issues arise, Pace wants riders to call their 24-hour emergency number at 1-800-606-1282.

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.”

If a rider misses a Pace Paratransit trip, Pace says they have three options:
  • Call the 24/7 ADA Paratransit Assistance Reservation Line at 1-800-606-1282, Option #3 to reserve a new ride. 
  • Chicago riders may call or hail a cab and pay with a Taxi Access Program (TAP) voucher. 
  • If the rider is able, Pace says they can ride a fixed bus or train route. 

# # #
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.
# # #

No comments: