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ADA Paratransit Services Program

The Americans with Disabilities Act (hereinafter “ADA”) Paratransit Service program is a service of Apple Country Public Transit (hereinafter “ACPT”) providing a safe and reliable shared-ride public transit service for eligible persons with disabilities. The program serves only locations within ¾ mile of the ACPT fixed-route system (the service area).

ADA Paratransit Service Contracted Provider:

Western Carolina Community Action
526 7th Avenue East
Hendersonville, NC 28792
828.698.8571
applecountrytransit.com
transit@hendersoncountync.org

Operating Hours

Monday - Friday • 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Holidays

New Years Day, MLK Jr. Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day.

Eligibility and Applications

Eligibility

The ADA paratransit service program (hereinafter “the program”) is restricted to eligible persons under the rules of ADA. Eligible persons include, but are not limited to, persons:

Application for Certification of ADA Paratransit Program Eligibility

All applications are confidential. Persons may request an application by phone or mail or may download the form here. Should an applicant need an application in an alternative format, please contact ACPT to request the required format. Applicants may request in-person telephone assistance to complete an application.

Application review may: (1) prove eligibility, (2) prove eligibility for some but not all trips, or (3) prove ineligibility based on a person’s capacity to use the fixed-route system. Approved applicants remain eligible for the program a specified period (from days or months, to a maximum of three (3) years). When the period of approval ends, ACPT may request re-evaluation to determine continued eligibility. The program information contained on this site refers to approved applicants as “paratransit customers” or “customers”.

Reservation Requests, Trip Scheduling, and Cancellations

Reservations

Reservation requests may be made up to 30 days before, but no later than 5:00 p.m. the day before the day of travel. Customers may make a reservation request by phone on regular operating days (Monday through Friday) between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. On weekends, customers may reserve a trip by phone by leaving the required reservation information on the answering service.

Reservation requests must include the following information:

Reservation requests provided through the answering service and which are determined to be incomplete (those that do not include all of the above) will not be processed for a Monday trip.

ACPT cannot honor reservation request or provide trips that either originate or have a destination outside the service area.

Trip Scheduling

ACPT schedules trips with multiple customers, meaning paratransit customers will be sharing trips with other customers. ACPT staff may ask paratransit customers to change requested pickup times to accommodate reservation requests. ADA rules allow ACPT negotiate a revised pickup time up to one hour before or after the original requested pickup time. Paratransit customers must be ready for pick up one (1) hour prior to a requested drop-off time.

Travel involving more than one (1) destination requires the paratransit customer request more than one (1) trip be scheduled. Paratransit customers must schedule each trip destination as a separate trip. A paratransit customer cannot change his/her destination once he/she has boarded the vehicle.

Program demand is heaviest between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and between 1:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Scheduling trips outside the heaviest periods of demand increases the likelihood ACPT can accommodate a trip without negotiated timing. ACPT attempts to accommodate trip requests with as direct a travel route as possible. Customers requiring medication or oxygen at regular intervals should be aware that travel time could be lengthy (as much as 90 minutes) depending on travel distances.

Subscription Service

Subscription service is available for regularly scheduled trips that occur at least two (2) times per week. During the reservation request, ACPT will alert the paratransit customer to the subscription status of the trips. ACPT staff establishes subscription service when either: (1) a paratransit customer requests the service, or (2) ACPT staff notes that a paratransit customer has a pattern of ridership indicative of a subscription service need and the paratransit customer agrees.

ACPT will establish the subscription service and indicate to the paratransit customer that additional reservation requests for the specified trips are unnecessary. A paratransit customer requesting a change in time, origination, or destination of trip may change subscription service eligibility.

ACPT may discontinue subscription service for a prearranged specific period under certain conditions (illness, vacation, or school break) when the paratransit customer requests the discontinuance. ACPT may reinstate the subscription service after the condition ends.

Customers can request and establish, temporarily discontinue, or cancel an established subscription service by phone. There may be a waiting list for subscription service because ADA rules limit subscription service (allowing no more than ½ of trips at any hour of any day be classified as subscription service trips).

Cancellations

Paratransit customers can submit cancellations 24 hours per day by phone. Customers must cancel trips no later than two (2) hours prior to the scheduled appointment time to avoid penalties that could lead to suspension of service. Should paratransit customers receive the answering service please leave the following information to cancel a trip:

Expectations of the Service

Vehicle Arrivals and Late Arrivals

Vehicles arriving within 15 minutes before or 15 minutes after the scheduled pick-up time are on time and within the service window. The paratransit customer should be ready to depart when the vehicle arrives in this service window. Vehicles will wait no longer than five (5) minutes for customers (except when arriving earlier than the pick up window). Should a vehicle arrive early (before the 30-minute pickup window), customers are not required to board until 15 minutes before the scheduled time.

ACPT strives to provide on-time service; however, factors beyond control may result in a delayed pick-up. ACPT asks customers call only after the service window expires if a vehicle fails to arrive within the service window.

Door-to-Door Service

The program provides “door-to-door” service. Operators typically come to the door to notify the customer the vehicle has arrived. Some locations and/or situations may prevent the operator from leaving the vehicle. Customers who are able to wait at the curb or at the designated pick-up location are encouraged to do so whenever possible.

Passenger Guidelines

No weapons, open food or drink, profanity, eating, drinking, spitting or smoking, loud talking or music.

Identification

ACPT may request a customer present photo identification to verify the customer’s identity an approval for program use.

Fares

Customers can either pay cash fare or use pre-paid tickets or passes. All cash fare must be exact change as operators cannot make change for customers.

Fares
Rate
Cash Fare (one-way trip)
$1.50
Companions (may be limited in number based on space available on the vehicle)
$1.50
Personal Care Attendants (where an paratransit customer is certified as requiring a PCA)
Free

Personal Care Attendants & Companions

Personal Care Attendants (PCA) and companions may travel with a paratransit customer. ACPT certifies if a paratransit customer requires a PCA during the eligibility application process. A PCA traveling where the paratransit customer does not require a PCA travels as a companion and pays the cash fare. ACPT permits at least one (1) companion in addition to the required PCA. ACPT may permit paratransit customers to bring additional companions if vehicle capacity is available.

A paratransit customer may bring children. Children are counted among his/her companions and may also be limited. A legal guardian must sign an authorization form for the provision of transportation to children for children to board the paratransit vehicle and travel. ACPT prohibits children from riding in another individual’s lap. Children under 8 years old: (1) must be accompanied by a responsible party, and (2) must be secured in an approved child safety seat provided by ACPT (other seats may not be used) should he/she weigh less than 80 pounds.

Customers must indicate if PCAs and companions are traveling, and the age/weight of any children traveling, during the reservation request.

Mobility Devices/Wheelchairs

Program vehicles are ADA accessible. Operators will assist customers in boarding/ disembarking as needed. ACPT requires mobility devices (wheelchairs, scooters, etc.) be secured in the vehicle. ACPT requires restraint system use unless the paratransit customer presents medical certification stating he/she cannot use restraints for medical reasons. Paratransit customers should report changes in use of mobility devices within 15 days to ensure ACPT sends the proper vehicle to provide program service. ACPT cannot provide service to otherwise paratransit customers whose overall weight with a mobility device is over 600 pounds.

Customers must indicate the type of mobility device used/traveled with during the reservation request.

Life Support Equipment

Paratransit customers may bring life-support equipment (respirator, portable oxygen, etc.) provided: (1) doing so does not violate hazardous materials transport regulations, and (2) the equipment fits in the vehicle along with other persons.

Customers must indicate the need for life support equipment during the reservation request.

Service Animals

ACPT permits service animals. Service animals must sit on the floor or on the customer’s lap and may not occupy another seat during the trip. Service animals are subject to behavioral expectations.

Customers must indicate the need for the service animals during the reservation request.

Strollers

ACPT permits collapsible strollers for companion children. ACPT prohibits strollers that do not collapse.

Transporting Items

Due to space limitations and safety concerns, a paratransit customer can transport an item or items that: (1) he/she alone can carry, (2) he/she can hold, and (3) can travel in his/her lap. A paratransit customer with an item or items that cannot meet these limitations can: (1) leave the item or items behind in order to proceed with the trip, or (2) decline the trip and remain with the item or items. ACPT prohibits PCAs and companions from carrying additional items for the customer.

Items may be transported in packages and bags. ACPT prohibits shopping carts or any type of rolling or fixed equipment to transport items.

Unattended Passengers

Paratransit customers certified as unable to be left unattended (based on age, diminished mental capacity, or special request of the responsible party) may schedule trips and travel unattended; however, arrangements must be made to have an attendant meet the vehicle at each destination. The vehicle will only wait five (5) minutes for the attendant at the destination. If no one arrives, the operator will notify the dispatcher and continue on route. The dispatcher will attempt to reach the emergency contact person. If the emergency contact person cannot be reached or cannot meet the customer, the operator will return the customer to ACPT offices.

ACPT will not leave paratransit customers certified as "unable to be left unattended" without an attendant, and will notify law enforcement of the failure to locate an attendant or emergency contact person so law enforcement may assist in locating a responsible party.

Service Operators

Operators

Operators must: (1) have clean criminal background checks, (2) pass initial and ongoing drug and alcohol screening, (3) have proper licenses, (4) have good driving records, (4) have pertinent driving experience, and (5) have familiarity with Henderson County and its roads.

Operators regularly receive training (ADA requirements, customer assistance, defensive driving, first aid, adult CPR, infant CPR, and customer sensitivity).

Operators will assist paratransit customers unable to maneuver independently from the customer’s door to the dedicated paratransit vehicle provided it is safe for the operator to provide the assistance.

ACPT permits operators to:

ACPT prohibits operators from:

Penalties, Suspension, Service Refusal, and Appeals

Failure to Show (“No Show”) Penalties

No Shows occur when a paratransit vehicle arrives at the designated pick-up location, waits the prescribed five (5) minute period, and the paratransit customer is not present to board the vehicle. No Shows may result in penalties that lead to suspension.

When a paratransit customer is a No Show for a trip, ACPT will cancel any additional trip(s) (including a return trip) scheduled for the customer for that day.

ACPT notifies paratransit customers by mail if a No Show for one of the customer’s trips results in ACPT assessing penalties.

ACPT uses the following point system to determine penalties for recurring no-shows:

1 point for: • Limited Notice (Cancelled within 2 hours of the scheduled appointment time)

3 points for: • Late Notice (Cancelled within 30 minutes of the scheduled pick-up window)

5 points for:

The program requires a paratransit customer provide access to his/her gated community by supplying a means of entry (gate code, approved vehicle entry, etc.). Where a vehicle is unable to arrive at the designated pick-up because it cannot enter a gated community, or where the paratransit customer fails to meet the vehicle outside the gated community, ACPT will designate the trip as a No Show.

Disruptive and Abusive Behavior Suspension and Service Refusal

Disruptive or abusive behavior endangering other persons (including ACPT operators and staff) will result in suspension. Disruptive and abusive behaviors include, but are not limited to:

Terms of suspension will be determined based on the abusive and disruptive behavior and may be permanent.

ACPT reserves the right to refuse service to anyone whose behavior is now or is historically obnoxious, offensive, intimidating, violent, disorderly, hazardous, or illegal. ACPT refuses service based on the behavior potentially resulting in the disruption of vehicle operations or serious impairment to the health and safety of others.

Suspension for Unpaid Fares

Repeated unpaid fares will result in suspension. ACPT assesses a minimum of six (6) points for unpaid fares per one-way trip.

Suspension for Unattended Paratransit Customers

Paratransit customers who must continue on a route beyond the scheduled destination because an attendant failed to be present at the destination will be subject to suspension of services. ACPT assesses a minimum of 18 points for an attendant failing to be present at the destination.

Suspension from Penalties Assessments

Suspension results where ACPT assesses a series of penalties within a specified period (see Table 1, below).

Table 1. Penalties Assessed and Suspension of Services

Points Assessed

Service Period (Days)

Suspension Period (Days)

18

30

30

36

60

60

54

120

120

72

180

180

Appealing Eligibility Determinations or Suspension of Service

Individuals identified as ineligible and eligible persons suspended from the program are entitled to request an appeal relating to eligibility denial or the imposition of suspension. Ineligibility or suspension, under the terms of this policy, is stayed pending the outcome of the appeal [49CFR § 37.125 (h)(3)] except where appealing a suspension based illegal, seriously disruptive, or violent behaviors.

Individuals not in agreement with decisions made by ACPT regarding eligibility or suspension should request an informal administrative hearing by phone. Individuals dissatisfied after an informal administrative hearing can file a written appeal with the ADA Coordinator by phone at 828.694.6557. An appointed panel of two (2) transportation officials, two (2) medical/disability professionals, and (2) ADA paratransit customer representatives will review the circumstances for ineligibility or suspension. ACPT conducts appeals processes in accordance with ADA regulations.

Informal administrative hearings require a separation of function between those involved in the initial determination and those deciding appeals. The following is the process for an informal administrative hearing:

  1. Individual requests appeal within 60 calendar days of denial of application or suspension.
  2. Individual has an opportunity to speak in person to present information and arguments.
  3. ACPT will issue written notification of the appeal decision, stating the reasons for the finding, within 30 days. Should ACPT fail to issue with written notification, the individual becomes eligible for the program until ACPT issues written notification stating otherwise.

Individuals disagreeing following informal administrative hearings may further appeal the decision to the appointed panel. The following outlines the process for an appeal hearing:

  1. Individual submits a written appeal to the ADA Coordinator.
  2. ADA coordinator schedules the appeal hearing.
  3. At the appeals hearing there will be:
    • An introduction of individual making the appeal, panel members, and presiding members.
    • An explanation of:
      • Conflict of interest shall be addressed should an individual have a professional or personal relationship with a decision-maker,
      • The appeal policy and individual’s rights to ensure a clear understanding of process, and
      • The basis on which decisions will be reached (e.g., majority vote, etc.).
    • An overview of the policy (eligibility or suspension) to ensure the individual has an understanding of issues such as the functional and trip-by-trip nature of ADA paratransit.
    • A summary of findings of the initial determination and informal administrative hearing.
    • An opportunity for :
      • The individual or his/her representative to provide additional information or dispute the findings of the initial determination and informal administrative hearing, and
      • The panel members and hearing officer to ask the individual or his/her representative questions as well as other persons involved.
  4. The appointed panel will deliberate and decide a course of action and issue a written decision concerning the appeal so the individual clearly understands what happens following the hearing.
  5. Individual receives decision regarding eligibility (eligible/ineligible) or suspension (upheld/removed).