OCTA unveils transit simulator to aid disabled riders

Posted on March 19, 2012

OCTA Vice Chair Greg Winterbottom boards the bus inside the agency's new facility. Photo courtesy OCTA.
OCTA Vice Chair Greg Winterbottom boards the bus inside the agency's new facility. Photo courtesy OCTA.
The Orange County (Calif.) Transportation Authority (OCTA) unveiled a new indoor, simulated transit facility used to determine eligibility for OCTA’s ACCESS paratransit service.

One of only four nationwide, the new transit simulator includes a 40-foot OCTA bus, sidewalks, wheelchair-accessible curbs, crosswalk and operating traffic signals to fully replicate a bus stop.

“This facility is one of the finest in the country and it mirrors OCTA’s commitment to ensuring public transit is accessible to all those who depend upon us for their mobility and independence,” said OCTA Chair Paul Glaab. “The simulator creates a real-life experience, helping to provide a more accurate and efficient passenger evaluation, which in turn will improve our customers’ experience and reduce costs.”

Prior to the facility, passengers were taken outdoors to test their ability to navigate uneven surfaces and curbs, but did not board a bus. Evaluators can now test a customer’s ability to navigate a variety of different surfaces, board a bus and pay the fare, all within a controlled environment.

Photo courtesy OCTA.
Photo courtesy OCTA.

The facility was built as part of OCTA’s contract with C.A.R.E. Evaluators, which provides services to determine customers’ eligibility for using ACCESS. Each month, approximately 500 people are certified or re-certified to use the service.

The cost to subsidize ACCESS service is $50.17 per ride, versus $3.76 on the fixed-route. Standardizing the evaluation process helps to accurately determine if a customer can use the fixed-route service for some trips. A total of 58,000 people are certified as eligible to use ACCESS service.

OCTA’s ACCESS service provides more than one million annual trips. A recent customer satisfaction survey showed 88% of those who use ACCESS are satisfied with the service, with the majority of users highly satisfied.

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