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Disability Advocates Praise Metro's New Call-A-Ride Policies

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio
"Now we have a fighting chance with the new suspension process and people will have a harder time getting suspended," said Rev. William Gamblin of the Coalition for Truth in Independence during a press conference Monday.

Metro Transit is adjusting policies for its Call-A-Ride service that some disability advocates had claimed were unfair.

Starting July 1, the service’s so-called “no-show” policy will base suspensions on a percentage of a rider’s overall Call-A-Ride usage rather than a fixed number. Riders will also be permitted five minutes, instead of three, before they’re penalized for being late for pick up.

 Metro’s Chief Operating Officer of Transit Services Ray Friem explained the policy changes were enacted to better comply with new rules under American Disabilities Act (ADA).

“We are now completely within the legal requirements of the ADA for the entire transit system,” he said, “not just the paratransit component of it.”

Denise Patterson, with the disability advocacy group Coalition for Truth in Independence, said the changes will improve service and reduce suspensions.

“Some of our people were getting suspended because they didn’t have enough time to get from their house to the van,” she said. “They only allow three minutes. There was no appeals process at all. You had to call them up and beg them to unsuspend you.”

Last year, Metro suspended 575 riders from the program. Suspensions typically last two weeks.  More than 12,000 riders rely on the curb-to-curb service in the St. Louis metro area.