Mobility

Metro to expand alternative-to-paratransit program to D.C. and Virginia

Posted on January 10, 2019

Since the start of D.C. Metro's Abilities-Ride program, more than 2,700 individual customers have taken over 86,000 trips, most of which would have otherwise been on the agency's paratransit service, MetroAccess (shown).
Photo: Metro/Larry Levine
Since the start of D.C. Metro's Abilities-Ride program, more than 2,700 individual customers have taken over 86,000 trips, most of which would have otherwise been on the agency's paratransit service, MetroAccess (shown).
Photo: Metro/Larry Levine

Following a successful pilot in Maryland, D.C.'s Metro is requesting proposals from taxi services and other transportation and technology companies to expand the Abilities-Ride program to the District and Virginia and to add additional service providers. The program offers an alternative to MetroAccess service by allowing eligible customers to use on-demand services — without sharing a ride — at a discounted rate.

The Abilities-Ride program — offered for trips that begin or end in Maryland since a pilot program was launched last September — provides a more flexible alternative to MetroAccess by allowing eligible customers to use on-demand taxi services at a discounted rate, without having to share a ride. Since the start of the program, more than 2,700 individual customers have taken over 86,000 trips, most of which would have otherwise been on MetroAccess. Riders can request their trip in advance by calling the taxi company directly, or through their respective websites or smartphone apps.

By avoiding more expensive MetroAccess trips, region-wide implementation of the Abilities-Ride program is estimated to save Metro $4-$6 million per year. Each trip taken on MetroAccess costs Metro more than $50 per trip.

With Abilities-Ride, customers pay as little as $5.00 per trip. An estimated fare is provided to the customer before taking a trip. Customers pay the first $5 and Metro pays the next $15 in fare. Any remaining fare over $20 is charged to the customer.

Proposals are due February 13, and Metro hopes to launch the expanded Abilities-Ride program by summer.

All drivers operating taxi service under the Abilities-Ride program will be required to undergo training on how to serve customers with disabilities, including customers traveling with service animals, and those who are deaf, hard of hearing, have visual disabilities, or who may need assistance getting in and out of the vehicle.

The Abilities-Ride program is optional for MetroAccess customers, and Metro will continue to offer door-to-door shared-ride service on MetroAccess throughout the District, Maryland and Virginia.

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