Applying for Denver’s RTD Access-a-Ride
by Douglas Howey
Non-Attorney Advocate for Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition
Denver’s RTD is mandated by the Federal Government under the Americans with Disabilities ACT of 1990 to offer equitable/comparable Paratransit Services for those not able to use normal public fixed route bus and rail systems. The mandate says that within 3/4 mile of any fixed route bus or rail system RTD must have vehicles to perform curb to curb service for those not able to use normal public transit. Each municipality in the United States calls Paratransit by different names. In Denver, the Paratransit service is called Access-a-Ride.
Keep in mind five things:
- Please only apply if you truly are not able to use normal fixed route systems because of specific disability reasons.
- Access-a-Ride is only able to travel within 3/4 mile of normal fixed route system routes. Use Google Maps and plot trips using public transit to see if your addresses are within 3/4 mile of normal RTD systems. Here is one such sample.
- Access-a-Ride is only going to take you to addresses within 3/4 mile of normal fixed routes during the times and days the fixed route system runs through that area. Some outlying suburbs, for instance, only have RTD Fixed Routes running during the weekdays. That means, on the weekend you cannot get Access-a-Ride during those times.
- Access-a-Ride is Public Transit, therefore it is a shared ride. You will have no control of where you go and how many people are on board during your trip.
- Thus… Please, Oh, Please, keep RTD accountable. By Federal Mandate RTD is NOT allowed to take longer taking you somewhere than it would have taken using normal public fixed route systems. Let RTD know ever time this does not happen. RTD believes they are doing an A+ job because NO ONE COMPLAINS!
Hold on to your hat… LoTs of InFoRmAtIoN follows…
The following information assumes you are truly in NEED of Paratransit.
And furthermore, for the sake of this discussion, the person in question has a bum-leg and has to use crutches, and more so, weak arms that cannot use crutches for any considerable distance. (Maybe your situation is bad heart that means you cannot walk far or you have a brain that does not function well but instead provides confusion of where you are etc. The situations are far and wide, but they all have the same impact, you are not able to walk to the bus stop and take a normal bus.)
Attached please find four+ documents.
[a] One is titled NewApplication8-23-17.pdf
RTD is so behind with technology, they only deal with Paper Applications!
You can also call and ask for the paper mailer: (303.299.2960)
On the application you receive in the mail, there will likely be a sticker or some handwriting displaying your unique Access-a-Ride ID Number. Simply transfer this number to the printed application that is attached below. Save this ID number for future use.
RTD will assign to you a unique ID Number because, in order to have the evaluation, RTD will arrange (through Easter Seals) a ride on Access-a-Ride to the Easter Seals Evaluation location and then back home again after the eval. They take care of this reservation for you.
RTD’s mailer to you will have more instructions. After you have the application filled out by your doctor, you will call a number (303.299.2960) to initiate the evaluation process with Easter Seals. The number will be in the mailer. If you don’t mind, please give me a copy of this mailer. I haven’t seen it in a while and forget what it looks like and I forgot the phone number they provide…
Access-a-Ride is abbreviated as AaR in this current webpage/email.
The New User Application is heavily weighted on your physician.
Your physician needs to understand RTD’s mindset: RTD would rather you NOT have Access-a-Ride than have it. RTD has had hundreds of people attempt to gain Access-a-Ride because of a benefit* it contains rather than said person Physically or Mentally NEEDING Access-a-Ride. So the entire process, sadly, is designed to trick people into claiming they are indeed able to ride normal fixed route bus/rail etc.
(*The benefit these loafers seek is Unlimited FREE Bus and Light Rail and Commuter Rail and Regional trips. RTD gives free bus (etc) access to AaR riders to encourage AaR Riders to use Fixed Route whenever possible. Each AaR trip costs RTD about $50.)
So simply ask your physician to focus on your worst possible day and that this condition (for the sake of this AaR evaluation process) is permanent or progressive, if indeed it is.
[b] Also attached is a file called: SampleQuestionsAskedDuringAssessment.pdf
This is the form Easter Seals will use when you have your evaluation. I prepared some sample answers for you so you can see how best to answer.
It is important you focus on your worst days to answer all questions.
It is important you remember, if true for your case, you need assistance from a Personal Care Attendant to help carry shopping bags, other things you need on your trip; or because of brain’s confusion, if that is the case. (This will then give the ability to have a PCA ride free with you when you need them. The PCA is anyone you choose.) Yes, you have a ‘leg-up’ on most every applicant because you have this questionnaire in advance. I am working hard to make this part of the initial application the new applicant uses.
Side Note: I am on a committee that has been attempting to “fix” AaR for 4 years. We have made significant progress, but much more is needed. Thus the reason I have the digital forms. (Actually, RTD has only MSWord versions. And they refuse to give digital forms to people, just paper forms. This is not just silly, it is rude, unkind, and impossible for many people who cannot use paper forms. I use Adobe Acrobat to convert the forms into digital fillable forms.) I am pushing hard to have the entire process online as a simple online form, also as an accessible pdf fillable, and of course still paper mailer. And I think we prevailed in getting rid of the Medical Verification, as optional only. Because for most people who really need AaR the reasons are obvious; for those not as obvious (such as Autism,) the medical verification could only help Easter Seals make a sound determination. But, until we are finished with this big project, the Medical Form is STILL NEEDED.
To Ride AaR, you call Reservations 1-3 days before the day of travel.
They give you a 30 minute pick up window time for the pick-up portions of your trip (both leaving and coming back.) You can take multiple trips per day. They can be a one-way or round trip.
AaR will call the night before around 6:30pm to review your trips for the next day.
AaR will call on the day of travel about 15 minutes before the Shuttle arrives.
Each leg of your trip costs $4.70.
RTD spends about $50, but your portion is only $4.70. You can purchase Tickets to use instead of Cash. There is a little bit of savings with the ticket book: local 5-Ride Ticket Book costs $21.25.
King Silly’s sells Ticket Books for AaR, or at least some of them do.
Or there is a way to purchase AaR Tickets online: http://store.rtdpasses.com/
But this is slow service. And you can purchase them downtown at Civic Center Station and Union Station at the RTD Service Desks.
RTD has a Federal obligation to not take more time on AaR than it would, if you were perfectly able, to walk to the bus stop, wait for the bus, take the bus, walk to your transfer point, the wait for the next bus, the time on the next bus (etc) and the final walk to your destination. To give you a flavor of this time for each trip, use Google Maps to plot your trip using Bus/Rail. I can assist you with this, if desired.
Access-a-Ride acceptance also gives you free access to Fixed Route, Rail, etc.
Access-a-Ride acceptance also gives you the ability to use Access-a-Cab. RTD contracts with Yellow Cab and a couple other cab companies. You pay the first $2. RTD picks up the next $10. You pay the balance if the trip is longer than $12 of cab-fare travel.
Access-a-Cab is liked by many people in many situations (non-wheelchair) because it is same-day service.
There is an automated way (303) 244-1388 to request Access-a-Cab by talking with a computer voice system (IVR.) The live-reservationists can store up to four favorite Access-a-Cab destinations you can use with the interactive voice response system (IVR.)
I do not use Access-a-Cab because there are only about 30 wheelchair accessible vans in all of Denver (used for many different services) and most them are too small for my large powerchair… The wait time for me is 2-4 hours per one-way trip… and then they end up sending the wrong vehicle…
Attached is the pdf version of the full application form for both you and your medical professional to populate.
Here is the number to call for more information:
Access-a-Ride Administration Office 303.299.2960 (call them if you do not receive the mail and ID number within a week.)
RESERVATIONS AND FUTURE CANCELLATIONS (Includes IVR)
Access-a-Ride Reservations 303.292.6560
SAME DAY TRIP CANCELLATIONS, SAME DAY TRIP INQUIRY
Access-a-Ride Dispatch 303.480.2000
ACCESS-A-CAB RESERVATIONS 303.244.1388 (Includes IVR)