Public Transportation for People With Disabilities

Running simple errands such as driving to the grocery store or going to an appointment, and visiting friends is something many of us take for granted. Getting from point A to point B is not as easy for everyone as it is for others. For example, mobility is a common challenge for individuals with disabilities. Many do not own or operate their own vehicles and do not always have a trusted friend or family member to help them get from one place to another.

Public transportation, such as taxis and city buses, provides an affordable, reliable solution for many people. Public transportation also helps preserve the environment, as it reduces vehicular pollution. Further, a decrease in traffic congestion results in shorter commutes and a reduced risk of accidents.

However, despite the fact that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 requires public transportation to be accessible, many taxis and public transit systems—especially older ones—remain largely inaccessible for people with disabilities. One reason is that facilities built before the ADA are exempt from meeting accessibility requirements. For example, the New York subway system, built in 1904, is still largely inaccessible. Other facilities suffer from out-of-order elevators, non-functioning wheelchair lifts, and more.

According to a study conducted in 2019 by the U.S. Department of Transportation, 25.5 million Americans over the age of five have self-reported travel-limiting disabilities. Of this, 3.6 million Americans do not leave their homes because they are disabled and housebound.

Accessible transit gives people with disabilities the opportunity to work, engage, and contribute to their communities. Due to inadequate funding and enforcement, millions of individuals with disabilities are unable to enjoy full independence.

For individuals who cannot always rely on public transportation, paratransit offers a unique solution. Read more to explore the three eligibility requirements for public transit assistance and public transit available in Oshkosh and Appleton, Wisconsin.

Paratransit Services: A Transportation Solution for People With Disabilities

Paratransit is a transportation service that supplements larger public transit systems by providing individualized rides without fixed routes or timetables. By filling in the gaps where public transportation falls short of meeting the needs of people with disabilities, paratransit transportation helps people live more independently.

Paratransit vehicles range from taxis to minivans and small buses. These vehicles are equipped with wheelchair ramps and/or lifts to enable access. They may run on a roughly defined route or respond to on-demand door-to-door passenger pickup and dropoff in a service area.

Eligibility Requirements for Paratransit Services

The goal of the paratransit transportation program is to ensure all individuals have access to transit to meet basic mobility needs. To qualify for this specialized service, it is often necessary to submit an application with supporting documentation, as well as complete an in-person interview. Eligibility is determined by the transit system in consultation with the local community.

Applicants determined to be eligible riders for complementary paratransit service are assigned to one of three eligibility categories: Unconditional, Conditional, and Temporary.

  1. Unconditional: the applicant is not able to use accessible regular fixed-route transit service under any circumstances, and is therefore eligible for all trips via paratransit service.
  2. Conditional: the applicant is able to use accessible regular fixed-route transit in some, not all, circumstances. The individual is eligible to use paratransit service under limited circumstances and must have an official letter defining such circumstances.
  3. Temporary: the applicant is not able to use regular fixed-route transit service at this time; however, the circumstances leading to eligibility are expected to change in the future. For a limited time, the individual is eligible to use paratransit service which can be conditional or unconditional.

Paratransit Services in Oshkosh

If you or a loved one is eligible for paratransit services and live in Oshkosh, you may be interested in the GO Plus ADA paratransit service.

GO Plus offers ADA paratransit service to individuals with disabilities within the City of Oshkosh whose condition prevents them from using public transportation such as the metro bus service. It is a shared-ride, on-demand, and lift-equipped van or sedan service provided through a contract with Running, Inc and Oshkosh City Cab.

GO Plus Paratransit Services Policies

  • It is a shared-ride service; therefore, riders may occupy the vehicles with other passengers during the trip.
  • If necessary, a personal care attendant is allowed to ride for free with a program participant.
  • Please take time to schedule rides by 4:30 pm the day prior. While same-day service requests are allowed when unforeseen events prohibit advanced scheduling, there is an extra $1 convenience fee.
  • All drivers and riders must wear masks unless it is unsafe for the rider to do so due to their specific disability.

Covey is located in both Appleton and Oshkosh. We are happy to provide resources for public transportation and paratransit services such as GO Transit and GO Plus ADA paratransit service. Contact us today!