The June 11 Metro article “On MetroAccess, long waits and trips for elderly, disabled” laid out the shortcomings of MetroAccess, the D.C. area’s paratransit service for people with disabilities. The District already has a workable alternative: Transport DC, which could serve as a model for an area-wide paratransit service. It already has proved itself on a limited basis to be cheaper, more convenient and reliable, and could replace much of the existing MetroAccess infrastructure. Through licensed taxicabs, Transport DC provides subsidized transportation by cab to anyone registered for MetroAccess throughout the District.
Rides can be set up on a same-day basis, rather than days in advance, and unlike MetroAccess, wheelchair-accessible vehicles are dispatched only as necessary. Transport DC is not a shared-ride service, so riders never have to worry about being taken on unexpectedly lengthy and circuitous routes.
With Transport DC, riders can request a specific pickup time, rather than having to specify a half-hour window. Participating cab companies receive $28 per ride, plus $5 paid by the rider.
MetroAccess as paratransit is sadly outdated. Policymakers should examine and build on the success of Transport DC and expand it as the dominant local paratransit system. People with disabilities in the D.C. area deserve nothing less.
Eric Smith, Washington
The writer is a member of the board of directors of the National Federation of the Blind of the District of Columbia.