Ottawa

ParaTranspo service extended to riders with developmental disabilities, mental health issues

Riders with development disabilities or mental health issues will be able to sign up for ParaTranspo door-to-door rides after council approved changes to the way the system operates.

Up to 2,000 additional people could be eligible for ParaTranspo services under new rules

City council has approved changes to ParaTranspo service. (Kate Porter/CBC)

Riders with development disabilities or mental health issues will be able to sign up for ParaTranspo door-to-door rides after council approved changes to the way the system operates.

City officials estimated that between 800 and 2,000 additional people could be eligible for ParaTranspo services under the new rules, although some current riders may no longer qualify.

The changes are expected to come into effect by the spring of 2017.

The recommendations to change ParaTranspo eligibility came after a year-long review of who should be eligible to take Para Transpo minibuses and accessible taxis, and how they should book their trips.

OC Transpo boss John Manconi assured councillors earlier this year that the transit department has a strategy to pay for all the changes stemming from the review, including hiring a medical professional to review applications.

He pointed to a new, "aggressive" contract with Coventry Connections for its accessible taxi service that he said freed up money to accommodate more Para Transpo riders.

Para Transpo also has an improved dispatch system, and has converted its fleet to a new model of minibus that can carry more passengers, said Manconi.

Improvements to the booking process and an updated penalty system also aim to address a large number of late cancellations and no-shows. 

Some 25,000 Para Transpo trips each year are no-shows. Another 100,000 trips are cancelled late, although the city acknowledges some cancellations are unavoidable.