Thursday, February 9, 2012

ADA Paratransit Universal Identification Card

Are you ADA eligible for paratransit services (curb-to-curb/door-to-door)?  Have you been required to apply for ADA complementary paratransit eligibility in advance as a visitor to a service area in another county, region, or state prior to your travel?  If so, The Association of University Centers on Disabilities Council on Community Advocacy (AUCD COCA) would like to hear from you.  (Click here for more information on COCA:

Sections 37.127 (c) and (d) of the DOT ADA regulations require that visitor eligibility be granted to individuals with disabilities who present documentation that they are ADA paratransit eligible in the jurisdiction in which they reside in addition to those who do not have documentation of being determined ADA paratransit eligible by another transit system.
[56 FR 45621, Sept. 6, 1991, as amended at 61 FR 25416, May 21, 1996]

AUCD COCA is seeking input from individuals with disabilities who use ADA paratransit services in their local communities and on occasions have to travel outside of their service area to another county, region, or state as a visitorThe purpose is to determine the feasibility or need for a national universal identification card.  This card would satisfy Sections 37.127 (c) (d) and serve as documentation of the individual's place of residence as well as proof that the individual is unable to use fixed route transit.  

Please join the discussion on this blog and share your travel experiences.  Questions to consider when sharing:
  •     Upon eligibility for ADA paratransit services, were you issued a proof of eligibility identification card?  If yes:
  •     Has your identification card been honored by other ADA paratransit service providers outside of your local service area or jurisidiction?  If no:
  •     What were the procedures or requirements you had to meet to determine eligibility in the county, region, or state you were traveling to?
  •    What do you think about the idea of the use of a national universal ADA paratransit identification card and what would be your recommendation on how to implement the program?


  1. As an individual with a physical disability and user of a power chair I support the concept of a universal identification card that would be honored across the United States for Para-transit services.

    In the past I have had the opportunity to travel to Anchorage, Alaska for a weeklong stay and also to Seattle, Washington for a weeklong stay. One trip was for work and the other trip was for a vacation in Alaska. In both cases I was able to get onto the website for the public transportation services in Anchorage and Seattle. I was required to fill out forms well in advance of my trip and e-mail them to Anchorage and Seattle and wait for a reply as to whether I qualified to use their Para-transit services. As an adult I found this ridiculous and very time-consuming. In both cases I was able to use their Para-transit services by providing my proof of eligibility from my local Para-transit services, in Logan Utah. The use of a universal identification card honored across the United States would eliminate this inconvenience and unnecessary step needed for travel in the present system. Even the difficulty of traveling from county to county within a state is ridiculously complicated and time-consuming to ensure that you are eligible. If I am eligible in my local area and it is documented I should be eligible anywhere within the United States to use any Para-transit services. I find it discriminating to go through all of this unnecessary red tape. Having said that, I do support the use of a universal identification card honored across the United States for utilizing any Para-transit service.
    Gordon Richins
    Preston, Idaho

  2. Although I do not use para-transit services personally, I have many friends who do. I fully support the development of a Universal ID for anyone who use these services. It's use would make travel outside of a person's home community much easier and less time consuming.

    I feel that people with disabilities should not have to complete extensive paperwork and "jump through a bunch of hoops" in order to use para-transit services in a different state or community than their own. I also feel that the current system prevents people with disabilities from traveling as much as they may want to because of the amount of added work that is required in order to utilize the necessary para-transit services at their destination.

    You might think about the issue this way: How would those people who have a Driver's Licence like to have to provide proof, in advance, that they are qualified to drive every time they would like to drive outside of their home community or state? It might just mean sending a copy of their current driver's licence to the community they are traveling to, but it may be a more extensive process than that, requiring a trip to the doctor, etc. I know that I would not appreciate having to go through this process for every trip that I take. People using para-transit services should not have to go through it, either!

    Deb Unruh
    Dickinson, North Dakota

  3. As an individual with a physical disability who uses a power chair for mobility, I support the concept of a universal identification card that would be honored across the United States for Para-transit services.

    I could cite several examples of instances in my life when I have traveled to other states and have had to qualify for Paratransit Services in the state in which I was traveling. However, I will only share one example.

    I traveled to Minnesota for a vacation. While there, I needed to use the Paratransit Services. I called the Paratransit provider before I left on vacation and told them that I qualified for services in my own community. I I told them I would be traveling to their community and with the transportation. I asked if I could use the Paratransit System. I was told that I would need to qualify for their services. They faxed me the necessary forms which were quite extensive. I completed the form and mailed them back to the provider. It wasn’t long before I received confirmation that I could indeed schedule a ride with their service.

    The process I shared may seem quite simple. However, it should be remembered that each time I travel to another state or community in my own state, I am asked to go through the same process which is very time consuming and redundant. If it is clear to me that the universal identification card for individuals who qualify for Paratransit Services would solve this problem not only for the person using the system but for providers as well cutting down on paperwork and manpower.

    Dawn Olson
    Minot, North Dakota

  4. I agree. The other consideration that must be taken into account is the cost to the Medicaid/Medicare system. The process of requiring an eligible beneficiary to go to their physician to have the medical portion of the paperwork completed to verify eligibility will invariably be a cost to the system. The use of a national identification card is not only a time saving measure, but a cost saving one as well.

    Karen irick
    South Carolina

  5. I am completely in favor of a national identification card. I am a Chicagoan, and I planned to visit a friend in St. Louis. Upon learning the extensive identification process that I would have to go through to get a paratransit ride, I had to cancel the trip, and I don't know when I will get the chance to see her again, seeing as how, just as many other adults, she works during the week and will not have the time to be running me around every moment.

    Speaking on a personal level, being a man with a disability, it is a matter of personal independence to NOT have to rely on someone or put the burden upon my best friend to drive me around while I am in town. It is imperative that someone who has a disability feel some measure of independence, seeing as how many of us already may require assistance in many other aspects of our daily life.

  6. I am completely in favor of a national identification card.As a person with a disability, the process of trying to use Paratransit in another state or even in another area of my state was a huge task. It took several phone calls and faxes and still was a hassle. Please think of it as a driver license and honor a Paratransit card in all parts of the country.

  7. Once I took the train to Bellingham Washington which is 3 counties from mine. I needed Para transit to get to couple places within the town. In order to do this, I had to have my doctor fill out paperwork saying I had a disability and I needed Para transit to get from place to place. It took awhile to ge an okay. An Universal ID Card would be good. I do see one problem and that is, would the local people get service first before the out of town people?

  8. In 2006 I traveled to Las Vegas for a week of relaxation. I have a paratransit card for my area, but not one for Las Vegas so I was originally denied service from the airport to my hotel. Through intervention from Guardian and Protective Services, Inc., I was allowed to use the service. I travel frequently, so a national identification card would help me.

  9. More and more communities have local ADA Paratransit Some list the communities they have agreements with to accept other communities cards, others don't. This creates confusion and hard feelings between drivers and passengers. I have had the situation happen more than once that I have been told my card would be accepted proof by someone in the office only to be refused by the driver. One card, one set of eligibility requirements would make using Paratransit easier, more cost effective, and less confrontational.

  10. When I applyed for ADA paratransit back in 1993 I got a card in the mail to use paratransit so it worked out good. When I went to another city the card did not work so this Unverisational card would be awesome. How to put it into play is you would show paratransit driver and you woudl pay whatever it cost in the city you are in. I think this would be great and I would like to see it happen as soon as possible.

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    1. Plastic id cards thank you for your inquiry. At this time there are no requirements for para-transit service providers to issue ID cards for consumers that can be used in other jurisdictions. The intent of this blog is to determine the feasibility of such a requirement. If the result of the responses on this blog supports the need for change we will proceed to advocate for that change in the federal language. It is anticipated that consumers would have the cards made at their local Department of Motor Vechicles where state driver's licenses are issued.


  12. I use a motorized chair, but haven't travelled on my own with a companion because I felt it would be out of the question. I would love to take a small vacation, but would need to be concerned about transportation when arriving at my destination.

  13. I am a person with a disabilty who is an active paratransit rider. It is very frustrating to deal with transportation across county lines. In order to get transportation in another county there is a whole different eligibility process to go through and it almost as bad as getting a visa to visit another foreign country. It would be nice to have a universal card.

  14. A universal ID would be extremely useful! A friend was living in Denver and was unable to access paratransit because he had to meet with the RTD people at their office, to establish eligibility, but since he didn't have an ID, he found it difficult to get to their office. Catch-22, anyone? I

  15. I have had my paratransit card for about 20 years. It worked fine for my city, but when I had to travel elsewhere, the card was not honored.
    I travel often and a universal card would help me to have this important issue for me solved. I am legally blind so appying in every city I travel in is prohibitive. I go twice a year and visit as many as 6 cities per trip. I have relied on my travel agent to arrange for transportation based on where I stayed. Marilyn Nelson

  16. I am a full-time wheelchair user currently using paratransit. I am also Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2012. Not only is transportation my state platform for the year, but traveling across the state for appearances is a challenge. Every county uses their own paratransit service, making travel difficult. While my ID card has been honored in other areas, the application process for services was long and time consuming. A universal ID card for paratransit services is something I support one hundred percent. It would expedite the process of arranging services in other cities, counties, and states throughout the country. I also love the idea of making them available at local DMVs at opposed to bus companies.

  17. Even though I don't use the para-transit, it would be great iidea to develope National ID Card for para-transit users. Not only it would give people save time, they would able to receive the para-transit services more efficiently. I have physical disability and it takes some time to give all of my neccessary information to the services. But with using this ID card, it would save me time.

  18. There already is a national ID card that many paratransit agencies use: The MediCARE (federal medical insurance for elderly and disabled) card. Find out if your local paratransit agency allows this

  19. To Richard H - The purpose for the Universal ID card is to make it possible for all people who use paratransit services to be able to use any paratransit system in any jurisdition in the United States. It is important to remember that not all people with disabilities are on Medicare or Medicaid. The Universal ID Card would simply be a government issued card with the handicapped access symbol embrossed on it. Similar to the heart symbol idicating that the person is a organ donor.
    Dawn Olson, Minot, ND

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  21. For the past three months I have been working on a project with Easter Seals Project Action on Strengthening Inclusive Coordinated Transportation Partnerships to Promote Community Living. Through interviews with transit program directors and adults with disabilities who participate in the planning or implementation of coordinated transportation systems, I have learned a lot about the importance of effective and efficient transportation systems. I collected many personal stories from people with disabilities on why they are motivated to participate in efforts around coordinated and inclusive transportation, all of which stem from their personal experiences with public transportation and their desire to access and be a part of society. Having very little prior experience working with transportation issues, I heard the same sentiment echoed by many of the people I interviewed: transportation is vital to independent living. Involving people with disabilities in the planning and implementation of transportation systems is an important part of creating effective transportation systems, and ultimately promoting independent living for all. I am excited to see this blog serve as a forum for people to discuss their experiences with inefficient and ineffective transportation systems with the goal of a resolution. Even though the universal ID card is just one possible solution to improve the efficiency and accessibility of transportation, I applaud this and other efforts towards independent living and a future where everyone, including people living with developmental and other disabilities, are fully integrated, participating members of their communities.

  22. As a person with multiple disabilities and use a walker to get around and still have the need of a sighted guide, I fully support the idea of a universal ID card for all states/countries.
    I have a disabled son who has need of para-transit services and a universal ID card would help him.
    We both travel yearly to different places, both here in the US and Canada and in our territories. We have been paying a travel agency to arrange transportation from airports/Amtrak stations as neither one of us drive.

  23. i stroungly agree with the idea of a universal ada paratransit id card. i have had to fill out complete applications even though i was only requesting visitor status.

  24. Yes, I think an universal paratransit ID is a good idea. However, more importantly is for patrons to know they can request paratransit services when out of town.

  25. Hi my name is Sarah Carmany. I have a mild disability. I live in Kalamazoo Michigan. I ride the fixed route transit. I'm a self- employed individual. I have a small housekeeping business. I clean residential and commercial buildings. I have about three of four residential clients that have hired me to clean for them. One of these clients lives in another county which makes transportation hard for me to get too and from her house. I can do one of two things. I can either not do her house which isn't fair to me or take paratransit. I have choose to do paratransit. Well there are a few problems with paratransit. One I would have to apply in both counties. Two is would be alot of waiting which will keep me tied up from cleaning my clients house. Three with me waiting for my eligability I would probably be loosing clients. These are good reasons why a universal ADA card would be good for me even thought I ride the fixed route transit. The fixed route transit is go for going places with in the county but they don't cross the county lines to take me to me job in another county. So paratransit is good for that purpose. So see even people that ride the fixed route transit sometimes need to take paratransit. Yes the universal ADA card would be a good thing for everyone. I would like the US congress to introduce a bill for the universal ADA Paratransit card here in the United Sates and a bill to create universal Disability Discount for public transit in the United States under the ADA and ADA amendments Act. We would also like the US legislators to create a work group of Disability Advocates including individuals with disabilities, Veterans groups and work groups and transit porviders to facilitate the two bills that were mentioned above. Please consider this.

  26. I live in Boston,Ma. and have used paratransit "The Ride"since 1975. I took short trips to Florida and Las Vegas. Both times i notified The Ride about my plans and they took charge of temporarily transferring my eligibility to the appropriate paratransit company and it only took a few days to arrange it.The bonus of using it in Las Vegas was that the service is available while buses are running; in Vegas the 24 hr. bus service meant paratransit was available 24hr. a day also