PACE Responds To Paratransit Concerns

CHICAGO (CBS) – PACE responded to multiple CBS 2 reports of Paratransit concerns of delayed pickups or neglect to pick up.

PACE oversees Paratransit, which provides rides for the disabled. Last month, CBS 2 had original reports on Paratransit not picking up riders on time, or in comes cases at all. One case even involved an Autistic teenager. Some cases passengers are unable to talk and fend for themselves, CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports.

Melinda Metzger is Head of Operations for Pace and agreed to speak with CBS 2 about the concerns raised in previous reports.

“We’re public transportation,” said Melinda Metzger, PACE head of Operations. “We want them to get from where they are going, safely.”

Major concerns to parents were very late pick up times or no shows, by drivers. By law, Paratransit cannot deny a ride.

Pace said its “on time” rate is 89 percent, acknowledging that means 2,000 trips a day will be late.

“I’m concerned that he may get lured away by a predator, might get hurt,” said Rose McDonough, parent of Autistic teen and Paratransit rider, Michael McDonough.

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.”

I have a professional staff who is really concerned about what’s going on here, Metzger said.

Other parents raised the question of Paratransit considering scheduling rides more than a day in advance, to allow more accurate scheduling of employees, to cover all trips.

“If we’re booking two days in advance, are we going to have more cancellations, because that also plays havoc with the system,” said Metzger. “So it’s something we’re looking at and going to attempt to do.”

Metzger allowed CBS 2 into the PACE scheduling and monitoring center, where every ride taken is tracked. She is also able to monitor developments, from her office.

“It’s real time,” Metzger said. “Our dispatchers can look at it and adjust trips.”

Metzger said she is looking at adding more carriers to routes.

The PACE Board of Directors will vote next week to reduce the taxi fare from $5 to $3 for Paratransit users.

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