Resolution 2012-101 Regarding Certification for Paratransit Services


WHEREAS, if persons with disabilities are to fully participate in all aspects of community life, we must have access to public transportation; and

WHEREAS, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires local jurisdictions to ensure access to public transportation, including provision by these jurisdictions of paratransit services to eliminate a variety of public transportation barriers; and

WHEREAS, while most blind persons can and do use public transportation, there are circumstances in which blind persons must depend on paratransit services; and

WHEREAS, local jurisdictions have established a variety of requirements that paratransit riders must meet to demonstrate their need for this specialized service; and

WHEREAS, such certifications are reasonable because of the cost of running paratransit services and because there is an increasing demand for these services; and

WHEREAS, nevertheless, these certifications become cumbersome for customers who need paratransit services in multiple jurisdictions when these jurisdictions do not accept initial paratransit certifications   from other jurisdictions, thus, forcing customers to seek multiple certifications; and 

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland has documented numerous instances of required multiple certifications including cases in which residents of Howard County who must travel from their homes into neighboring Baltimore County via paratransit must obtain certifications from both counties instead of permitting the initial certification to suffice; and

WHEREAS, these multiple certifications cost customers time and money since medical records must be duplicated, personal  interviews must be repeated, and separate forms must be filled out, all asking for identical information, which in reality violates the spirit of the ADA by unnecessarily burdening individuals with disabilities who require services; and

WHEREAS, multiple certifications are always a waste of resources for the respective jurisdictions, and these resources could be better spent on improving the quality and quantity of paratransit services; and

WHEREAS, in Maryland, the Maryland Department of Transportation has funding responsibility for public transportation including paratransit services, and the Maryland Department of Disabilities is charged with streamlining services by eliminating redundancy and encouraging coordination: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED, by the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland Board of Directors this seventh day of January, 2012, in the city of Baltimore, Maryland, that this organization strongly urge the Maryland Department of Transportation and the Maryland Department of Disabilities to take all necessary steps to ensure that paratransit services do not squander valuable transportation dollars on redundant certifications, and instead concentrate their efforts on providing better transportation; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urges local jurisdictions throughout the state to institute reciprocity agreements that recognize each other’s certifications so that customers can use paratransit services run by multiple jurisdictions as needed.