37.137 Paratransit plan development.
(a) Survey of existing services. Each submitting entity shall survey
the area to be covered by the plan to identify any person or entity (public
or private) which provides a paratransit or other special transportation
service for ADA paratransit eligible individuals in the service area to which
the plan applies.
Section 35.137 establishes three principal requirements in the
development of paratransit plans. First is the requirement to survey
existing paratransit services within the service area. This is required
by section 223(c)(8) of the ADA.. While the ADA falls short of explicitly
requiring coordination, clearly this is one of the goals. The purpose
of the survey is to determine what is being provided already, so that a transit
provider can accurately assess what additional service is needed to meet
the service criteria for comparable paratransit service. The plan does
not have to discuss private paratransit providers whose services will not
be used to help meet paratransit requirements under this rule. However,
the public entity will need to know specifically what services are being
provided by whom if the entity is to count the transportation toward the
overall need. Since the public entity is required to provide paratransit
to all ADA paratransit eligible individuals, there is some concern that currently
provided service may be cut back or eliminated. It is possible that
this may happen and such action would have a negative effect on transportation
provided to persons with disabilities in general. The Department urges
each entity required to submit a plan to work with current providers of transportation,
not only to determine what transportation services they provide, but also
to continue to provide service into the foreseeable future.
(b) Public participation.
Each submitting entity shall ensure public participation in the development
of its paratransit plan, including at least the following:
- Outreach. Each submitting entity shall solicit participation
in the development of its plan by the widest range of persons anticipated
to use its paratransit service. Each entity shall develop contacts,
mailing lists and other appropriate means for notification of opportunities
to participate in the development of the paratransit plan.
- Consultation with individuals with disabilities. Each entity
shall contact individuals with disabilities and groups representing them
in the community. Consultation shall begin at an early stage in the
plan development and should involve persons with disabilities in all phases
of plan development. All documents and other information concerning
the planning procedure and the provision of service shall be available, upon
request, to members of the pubic, except where disclosure would be
an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.
- Opportunity for public comment. The submitting entity shall make
its plan available for review before the plan is finalized. In making
the plan available for public review, the entity shall ensure that the plan
is available upon request in accessible formats.
- Public hearing. The entity shall sponsor at a minimum one public
hearing and shall provide adequate notice of the hearing, including advertisement
in appropriate media, such as newspapers of general and special interest
circulation and radio announcements; and
- Special requirements. If the entity intends to phase-in its paratransit
service over a multi-year period, or request a waiver based on undue financial
burden, the public hearing shall afford the opportunity for interested citizens
to express their views concerning the phase-in, the request, and which service
criteria may be delayed in implementation.
Second, §37.137 specifies requirements for public participation.
First, the entity must perform outreach, to ensure that a wide range of persons
anticipated to use the paratransit service know about and have the opportunity
to participate in the development of the plan. Not only must the entity
identify who these individuals or groups are, the entity also must contact
the people at an early stage in the development process.
(c) Ongoing requirement. The entity shall create an ongoing mechanism
for the participation of individuals with disabilities in the continued development
and assessment of services to persons with disabilities. This includes,
but is not limited to, the development of the initial plan, any request for
an undue financial burden waiver, and each annual submission.
The other public participation requirements are straightforward. There
must be a public hearing and an opportunity to comment. The hearing
must be accessible to those with disabilities, and notice of the hearing
must be accessible as well. There is a special efforts test identified
in this paragraph for comments concerning a multi-year phase-in of a paratransit
The final general requirement of the section specifies that efforts
at public participation must be made permanent through some mechanism that
provides for participation in all phases of paratransit plan development
and submission. The Department is not requiring that there be an advisory
committee established, although this is one method of institutionalizing
participation. The Department is not as interested in the specific
structure used to ensure public participation as we are interested in the
effectiveness of the effort. The Department believes that public participation
is a key element in the effective implementation of the ADA. The ADA
is an opportunity to develop programs that will ensure the integration of
all persons into not just the transportation system of America, but all of
the opportunities transportation makes possible. This opportunity is
not without tremendous challenges to the transit providers. It is only
through dialogue, over the long term, that usable, possible plans can be
developed and implemented.