A Sept. 23 article incorrectly stated that LogistiCare Inc. is the defendant in a lawsuit filed last year by a dozen riders of MetroAccess, the Metro transit system's service for the disabled. Metro is the defendant of the lawsuit, which claims that MetroAccess service is so bad that it endangers lives and violates federal disability laws. LogistiCare has provided the service under a contract with Metro. (Published 9/24/2005)
The Metro Board of Directors agreed yesterday to hire a new company to serve elderly and disabled passengers, a move that will end a troubled relationship with the firm that provides the service now.
Board members voted unanimously to pay MV Transportation Inc., a California company that provides "paratransit" service across the nation, $210 million over the next four years. The contract includes $6 million in incentives.
MV will take over the MetroAccess program from LogistiCare Inc. on Jan. 15.
"One of the greatest achievements of today is getting rid of the present contractor," said Jim Graham, a member of the D.C. Council who represents the District on the Metro board.
The six-year relationship between Metro and LogistiCare was troubled from the start. The company has acknowledged that it has overbooked drivers, tasking them with picking up numerous passengers from spots across the region and taking the riders to scattered destinations. LogistiCare has also stranded passengers, inconveniencing them and allowing the firm to earn millions in incentives for on-time performance.
Complaints against the company grew so severe that they led to a review in 2002 by the Federal Transit Administration, which concluded that LogistiCare did a poor job of scheduling rides, staffing and certifying people who applied for MetroAccess service.
Last year, a dozen disabled riders filed a lawsuit against the company, arguing that its service was so bad that it endangered their lives and countered federal disability laws.
About 16,000 people in the Washington region are registered for MetroAccess, which Metro officials said has more than doubled in use and more than tripled in cost over the past several years. Officials said it cost $42 million to make 1.2 million passenger-trips in fiscal 2005.
Metro managers said yesterday that one of the selling points of MV Transportation was a computer program the company uses each day to map the quickest and most efficient routes for its drivers, shortening trips for the firm and riders.
The company also pledged to put cameras in its vehicles, which will allow managers to keep an eye on activities.
Other changes include giving riders a free-trip voucher if service is excessively late or a ride does not come at all. MV also pledged to reduce the use of taxis, which serve as a backup, from about 20 percent of trips to 5 percent.
Graham expressed concern that the deal would cost Metro tens of millions because MV will be paid by the hour rather than per trip, as it works now. But he said it was still a good deal.
"I think costs are likely to increase," he said. "But we have, probably, a better company with more efficiencies."