WMATA: Thousands More Learning to Ride Trains and Buses Independently

March 11, 2011 at 4:48 pm Leave a comment

ECNV Travel Trainer training a participant at a Metro stationFor immediate release: March 10, 2011

Metro’s management and cost containment efforts are beginning to change the way some people with disabilities use public transportation. In a briefing for the Board Finance and Administration Committee today, March 10, the head of MetroAccess detailed those efforts and recommended exercising the final option of the contract with the current provider (MV Transportation) while preparing for the next round of competition for the contracted service.

Metro officials anticipated slower ridership growth this year after taking several steps to manage demand, which included changing the MetroAccess fare structure and service area to align with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. In addition, more people with disabilities are choosing to use Metro’s accessible fixed-route system thanks to greater awareness of Metro’s travel training, reduced fare and free ride programs.

In the past six months, more than 3,700 people with disabilities have participated in Metro’s Travel Training Program, which teaches people with disabilities how to travel independently and safely on Metrobus and Metrorail. Training sessions are customized based on an individual’s needs.

More than 7.6 million trips have been taken on Metrobus and Metrorail under Metro’s Reduced Fare Program, under which people with disabilities pay significantly less than they would otherwise for a MetroAccess trip. Riders who qualify for the program pay half the regular fare on Metrobus and Metrorail, which is no more than 85 cents per trip on Metrobus and $2.50 per trip on Metrorail.

MetroAccess ridership and costs have doubled during the past five years, from 1.2 million passengers transported at a cost of $52.3 million in FY2006 to 2.4 million passengers budgeted at $103.7 million in FY2011. However, ridership for the first half of FY2011 was only 3% higher compared to FY2010, whereas in the past five years the growth rate has been as high as 22% year over year.

The actual cost to Metro of a MetroAccess trip is about $40. MetroAccess fares currently cost twice the amount of what the fare would cost on the fastest comparable trip if the same trip were taken on fixed-route services, such as Metrobus or Metrorail, up to a maximum of $7.

In addition, Metro implemented conditional eligibility, which allows people with disabilities to use MetroAccess for some trips and Metro’s fully accessible Metrobus and Metrorail service for others. For instance, a person with asthma might be able to take Metrobus or Metrorail for some trips but would need to take MetroAccess when outside temperatures become too hot or cold.

Because these demand management efforts have been successful, Metro anticipates a savings of $4 million in the proposed FY2012 budget. In the coming months, Metro officials plan to ask for Board approval to exercise the final contract option of the existing contract with MV Transportation through June 2013. During this final phase of the contract, Metro plans to explore alternative service delivery models, revise/redesign pricing structure and draft a new performance-based RFP.

News release issued at 2:49 pm, March 10, 2011.

Credit to WMATA

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