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PSTA revamping application process for DART to help riders explore options

Posted at 6:18 AM, Jul 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-31 07:51:39-04

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is revamping the application process for its Demand Response Transportation (DART) service.

People who apply to be part of the ADA paratransit program will soon take part in a 30 minute mobility consultation over the phone. Previously, riders filled out a paper application and were assigned to a service.

Bonnie Epstein, PSTA Director of Mobility Services, says they want to make sure riders know about all of their options available to them.

“We’re really gonna learn about what people need,” said Epstein. “Are they looking for something lower cost? On demand? Do they need help getting in and out of a vehicle? Things like that where we can match them with a service at PSTA that will work best for them.”

For example, Epstein says riders will be told about programs like Direct Connect, which helps people get to the bus.

Another option is Mobility On Demand. It is for anyone who is eligible for ADA paratransit. The program allows riders to get trips on demand from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

“They can just call PSTA and get a trip on either Lyft, United Taxi, wheelchair provides, wheelchair transport,” said Epstein. “They can just get a ride right away whenever the closest driver is available.”

The program is in contrast to DART, where riders must make a reservation by 5 p.m. the day before the trip. DART is also much more expensive than PSTA’s fixed route bus service.

“There are lots of options at PSTA and we just want to make sure people know that they have other options and they know how to use them,” said Epstein.

Epstein says there will be no changes right now for anyone already in the DART program. PSTA is aiming to rollout the new process for recertifications in 2021.