Disabled Lodi residents will soon have an easier way to get around town. The city is in the process of changing its reservation-based bus service to meet federal requirements by giving priority to disabled passengers.
A Federal Transit Administration review of the city's bus system recently found that the city lacked a "paratransit" service to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act rules.
Lodi's transportation system currently includes the GrapeLine fixed-route bus service and Dial-A-Ride, an on-demand service that allows riders to call for a pick up anywhere in the city. The Dial-A-Ride doesn't give priority to disabled riders, which is a requirement of the ADA, Transportation Manager Tiffani Fink told the City Council on Tuesday.
Changes to the system, Fink said, would allow bus dispatchers to schedule rides to disabled passengers first.
"If we have a time constraint, the person that's not ADA certified may have to wait," Fink said.
A doctor can authorize ADA certification, and it must be renewed every three years. A passenger can receive temporary certification due to injury such as a broken leg, Fink said.
The changes are not expected to cost the city any money because it will be reshuffling an existing service, Fink said.
• Late Nov.: First public meeting
• Early Dec.: Second public meeting
• Dec. 19: Council meeting to possibly adopt changes
• March 1: New service begins
Source: Lodi Public Works Department.
• Dial-a-ride: On-demand and reservation service within Lodi.
• San Joaquin RTD: Lodi to Stockton on 29 daily buses.
• South County Transit Link: Lodi to Galt and Sacramento on 13 daily buses. Also Galt to Rio Vista via Lodi four times daily.
• Calaveras Transit: Lodi to San Andreas four times daily.
• Rio Vista Delta Breeze: Lodi to Rio Vista and back every Tuesday.
- News-Sentinel staff.
The changes will also scale back Dial-A-Ride's on-demand services from all day to just two hours, Fink said. Riders will still be able to make reservations the day before, but requests for immediate pick ups will be limited to between 7 and 9 p.m.
ADA certified riders will be charged $1.50 for the service while other riders will still be charged Dial-A-Ride's normal $5 rate.
Existing city buses will provide the new paratransit service, which will be called Vineline.
Council members were concerned with the process by which passengers can become ADA certified.
"I'm concerned with the potential for abuse," Mayor Bob Johnson said. "If everyone signs on board, we could be spinning our wheels."
The standards for doctors to certify riders as ADA eligible should be set high, Johnson said, so that non-disabled passengers do not take advantage of the service.
Councilman Larry Hansen wanted to make sure the standards aren't too high to limit truly disabled riders.
"I think the challenge is going to be to come up with a system that limits abuse but at the same time doesn't limit the people who need it," he said. "I don't want to get too focused on abuse to where we are limiting those who need it."