Today, UTA celebrated the 30th anniversary of its paratransit program. The service began on July 5, 1988, more than two years before the Americans with Disabilities Act required public transit agencies to become accessible to the disabled.
UTA’s paratransit service provides curb-to-curb transportation for riders who are unable to use general UTA services. Paratransit buses operate across the same geographic area and during the same timespan as the rest of the UTA system.
Linda Reeder was one of the first people to use UTA’s paratransit system, then known as Flex Trans. Reeder, who is visually impaired, started using paratransit to travel from her home in the Avenues to her job at the Salt Lake County Health Department. Before paratransit, Reeder said, she had to rely on cabs and fixed-route buses to get her where she needed to go.
“This was so much easier,” Reeder said of paratransit. “I really have loved using it all these years.”
In its first year, UTA paratransit program served 263 riders. In 2017, the program had 4,082 registered riders and provided 409,406 rides for a total of 3,672,215 miles covered.
UTA Manager of Service Delivery Joyce Wall has worked in the paratransit division for almost three decades. The service gives people an opportunity to fully participate in the community, Wall said, taking them not only to work and doctor’s appointments but also to sporting events and other activities.
“I’m proud that I’ve had a career that has allowed me to include people that may not have had a ride otherwise to places that we all take for granted,” Wall said.
UTA Special Services General Manager Cherryl Beveridge credits the success of the program to the dedicated paratransit employees, who get to know their riders and care deeply about them. When one paratransit operator realized that a regular rider hadn’t arrived at the bus, they called the police.
“The person had fallen and broken their hip. They had no way of notifying emergency response. It was our operator being aware of their customer’s habits and caring about their customer that allowed us to intervene.”
When the Paratransit program started, only 50 riders signed up for service. Within a single year, that number grew to include 263 riders and a total of 8,416 trips per month. Today there are more than 3,500 registered riders, 418,763 annual rides, and 3.2 million miles traveled.
“Thank you for trusting us with your loved ones,” Beveridge said in a video celebrating Paratransit’s 30-year anniversary. “We don’t take that responsibility lightly.”
Click here to learn more about UTA’s paratransit services.