In addition to its extensive fixed-route bus service throughout suburban Chicagoland, Pace Suburban Bus offers many convenient paratransit services in the city of Chicago and in Cook, Lake, McHenry, DuPage, Will and Kane counties. Although all regular Pace buses are 100% accessible, Pace’s ADA Paratransit Service is designed to mimic the fixed-route services and offer an equivalent service for those unable to ride fixed route service, says Edward Madden, coordinator of public outreach at Pace Suburban Bus.
Those who are certified to use Pace ADA Paratransit may also be approved to have a Personal Care Attendant (PCA) ride with them for free. There are a few things to know about how to ride Pace Paratransit with your PCA, so read on for top tips, straight from the folks at Pace.
- Pace ADA Paratransit Service riders must be certified to use the service. Individuals can call RTA Chicago to start the prescreening process, and those who are eligible can also learn if they qualify to have a PCA ride with them for free.
- Pace ADA Paratransit Service is not medical transport, nor is it your standard bus. “This is public transportation that provides curb-to-curb service,” explains Madden. “They’re smaller vehicles like a minivan or the size of a hotel shuttle.” Pre-COVID, these would be shared rides with another two or three riders. (Pace is managing safety during COVID-19 by limiting the number of riders on board and incentivizing its Taxi Access Program.) Eligible riders must pre-book their ride the day prior to their trip, but are able to cancel the same day if their plans change. Riders typically use Pace ADA Paratransit Service to commute to work and run errands like doctors’ appointments and shopping. As a shared ride service, the paratransit bus arrives within 30 minutes of a rider’s reserved pick-up time, meaning riders’ schedules must have a certain degree of flexibility.
- Travel times are based on typical fixed-route times. “Even if the destination is normally a 15-minute drive in a private vehicle, the trip might take 30 or 45 minutes because of the complexities of shared rides,” Madden says. Because the service mimics existing fixed routes, the trip must originate and conclude within three-quarters of a mile to fixed route and take a similar amount of time as a fixed-route trip.
- A driver can help a rider, but only so much. Here’s where your personal care attendant (PCA) can be very helpful. “A driver can help a rider get on and off the vehicle, but the driver can’t lift a passenger. A PCA would be able to do that,” Madden explains. “A driver cannot carry any rider’s bags, so if a rider is grocery shopping, they need to make sure they or their PCA can carry everything themselves. A driver can take the passenger to the main entrance on the ground level of a building upon request, but only if they are able to maintain a line of sight with the vehicle.” A PCA, however, can do all of this and more. “The driver can’t help you get checked in at the reception desk of your doctor’s office. But the PCA can do that,” Madden says.
- A companion can ride along. Regardless of whether a rider qualifies to have a PCA, all eligible Pace ADA Paratransit Service riders can have a companion ride with them. The difference between the PCA and the companion is that the companion must pay the $3.25 fare, while the PCA can ride for free if a rider has the appropriate certification. A rider who is certified to have a PCA can also have a companion. In this case, the rider and the companion would each pay the $3.25 fare, and the PCA would ride for free. All riders in the party must travel to the same destination.
- Reserving a ride is easy. Pace ADA Paratransit riders can call the reservation call center. There’s even a Paratransit TripCheck portal to view trip information and cancel trips easily.
- Many riders use a combination of services. Those who are approved to use ADA Paratransit Service may also use traditional fixed-route services through Pace or CTA for free or for a reduced fare. In some cases — and in certain weather conditions — one service may make more sense, or may be faster or more efficient. The choice is up to you.
Learn more about Pace’s ADA Paratransit Service and get additional tips at pacebus.com/ada.