Updated July 24, 2020 at 2:00 p.m.
The Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation (IPTC) will meet Monday, to discuss plans to improve Open Door, the county’s individualized paratransit service.
Corporation spokesperson Lesley Gordon says the board will discuss recommendations from an analysis on how to improve the door-to-door program including possible changes to the county-wide service.
"We’re not set on those options, they’re not final by any means. What they were giving us is the foundation of where to start and figure out what we didn’t want to do.”
Members of the disability community have voiced concern how changes could impact accessibility to transportation. The transit corporation says it’s still accepting community feedback.
Gordon says the board is aware some riders are worried about changes. Such as, if federal guidelines are adopted it would shrink the service area.
“And to get more feedback, again, where we are looking beyond leaving it exactly how it is and looking beyond only having that ¾ mile area. We know those are not things we want to do, so when we go out to the community we want to make sure that we look at options beyond that.”
In addition to considering the analysis recommendations, the board will be looking at outreach done so far. IPTC has met with their Mobility Advisory Committee and the Indiana Disability Rights organization. IndyGo will also be considering the data and feedback of their riders. Ridership data includes frequent users and top destinations. Throughout this decision making process, IPTC intends to have virtual meetings with riders to gather feedback as well.
This meeting will be streamed on IndyGo's Facebook page and on Channel 16.
Members of the disability community and advocates are speaking out against potential changes to Marion County’s paratransit service, Open Door.
The Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation, which runs Open Door, commissioned an analysis last year to find ways to improve the service and reduce costs. But advocates say the changes under consideration will reduce the service area, add new restrictions on using the service, or increase fees.
The IPTC will meet on Monday, July 27, to discuss options to improve the service.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the stops for paratransit services should fall within ¾ of a mile out of the fixed route systems. However, Open Door currently provides door-to-door services to eligible individuals throughout Marion County, regardless of their proximity to routes.
In recent years, incidents of late pick-ups, extended ride times (3 to 6 hours), and mismanagement led the IPTC to conduct the analysis in 2019 to improve and cut expenses of Open Door with the intention to transition out of a county-wide service to the required ADA area instead.
The resulting options from the study included four recommendations; continuing services in the same manner, only providing services in a required ADA paratransit service area, using a required ADA service area plus a grandfathered service, or dividing the county into a required ADA service area and a non-ADA area.
Indiana Disability Rights’ Senior Attorney Emily Munson said the disability community is upset to see how these proposed options will leave individuals behind.
“Reducing ridership to within that ¾ of a mile of the fixed route system would basically reduce the scope of Open Door’s service by 50 percent and leave people without the ability to go to work, to go to the doctor, or to get their groceries,” Munson said.
The IPTC’s Board of Directors will be presented a motion to continue to gather more information and follow a required ADA service area while exploring a non-ADA service option as well. When looking at this motion, the language points directly to the fourth option which individuals of the disability community find to be extremely limiting because of limited ride services and potential fare increases.
Greg Meyer, community advocate for transportation, said the board needs to be committed to including the disability community in this discussion of their transportation before making any final decisions.
“And without having these people at the table with them, they’re just making the decisions and not thinking about all these people with disabilities," Meyer said. "Who knows, one day it could them riding it. It could be their children. It could be, you know, their parents. I mean you just never know.”
Those interested in sharing thoughts or concerns on the issue can call the Mayor’s Action Center at 317-327-4622 or submit a statement to IndyGo here.