Autistic Teen Left Behind By Paratransit Driver

CHICAGO (CBS) — He’s 17 and has high functioning autism. He relies on Paratransit for transportation. His family says, there’s a problem though. There have been times when his driver, has been a no show.  CBS2’s Suzanne Le Mignot has the story, in this Original Report.

Michael McDonough, 17,  explains how he felt when the Paratransit van didn’t come to pick him up, after his bowling club ended. He said he was waiting for a few hours for the Pace-operated transportation service, which provides rides for the disabled.

His mother, Rose McDonough, says she’s called Paratransit four times, in the past five months to complain.

In one incident, McDonough says her son was supposed to be dropped off at this school, for morning camp. It’s located at 3121 W. Byron. The driver had the address as “2131.” The numbers were reversed.

In a statement, Pace Paratransit thanked CBS2  for bringing McDonough’s concerns to them, adding they “…want her son’s trips to run smoothly and on time, which they do 93% of the time. While we can’t control a number of factors that can affect public transportation (congestion, weather, etc.), we will monitor her son’s trips closely and work on improving his service.”

Pace says out of the 43 trips the passenger has taken in the past three months, its busses have been 93 percent on time and there hadn’t been a pattern of “excessive lateness or travel time.”

But to Rose, one time is enough.

“I’m concerned that he might be lured away by, you know, a predator. Might get hurt.”

“We have to advocate and let everyone know what is happening,” Rose added.

Paratransit says riders in need of assistance are encouraged to bring a personal care attendant, and that person can ride for free. When trip issues arise, Pace wants riders to call their 24-hour emergency number at 1-800-606-1282.

Pace says it has a “No Strand” policy, in which the company says it “…will never leave passengers stranded away from their home if they were scheduled for a paratransit ride that day.”

If a rider misses a Pace Paratransit trip, Pace says they have three options:

  • Call the 24/7 ADA Paratransit Assistance Reservation Line at 1-800-606-1282, Option #3 to reserve a new ride.
  • Chicago riders may call or hail a cab and pay with a Taxi Access Program (TAP) voucher.
  • If the rider is able, Pace says they can ride a fixed bus or train route.
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