Beyond the bus: what is paratransit?



Paratransit services are meant to provide a transportation option for people who cannot use the fixed-route bus or rail system serving their location. These services are typically flexible in scheduling and routing to accommodate the specific needs of the riders. However, riders usually need to schedule the service the day before they need the ride.


There are several paratransit options throughout Tarrant County, including Trinity Metro's ACCESS, Catholic Charities, Handitran, Arlington's Via, as well as many private sector companies who help fill the gaps in transit options for those with disabilities.


Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), paratransit service must be provided within 3/4 of a mile of an existing bus or rail route and during the same hours and days.


Paratransit is more costly to operate than public transport but is limited by regulations to charging fares that are no more than twice the amount required for a transit agency’s fixed-route system. Although providing the service is required under the ADA, this is an unfunded mandate, which means that there is no designated source of federal funding to underwrite the service. An additional issue is that paratransit services are often locked into certain service areas. So, if a person wants to cross jurisdictions, they have to be able to know how to weave together services and time them just right to ensure they work.