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Paratransit Wheelchair Boarding

How To Ride Paratransit

You may ride any place in the city limits of Fargo and West Fargo, North Dakota, and Moorhead and Dilworth, Minnesota. You may ride MAT Paratransit for any reason: shopping - dining out - medical appointments - socializing and others!


In Case Of Snow

Service will be impacted during a snow event. The drivers will only travel on roads that are reasonably clear of snow. Service may be cancelled during a major snow event. Please listen to KFGO 790AM for weather related announcements.


Pick Up Procedures

When you call to reserve a ride, the reservationist will give you a 15 MIN. scheduled pick up time. The vehicle may arrive anytime 15 minutes before or after your scheduled pick up time. You should be ready at the entrance with coat on and packages together. Generally, the driver will pull up to the curb and cannot pull into the driveway of a residential home.


We Wait Five Minutes

Upon arrival, the driver will sound the horn. The driver will wait five minutes for you to appear. If you do not appear, the driver can leave and it will be considered a no show. The driver is not required to enter the building to look for you, nor is the reservationist required to call and notify you that Paratransit has arrived.


If We're Early

If the vehicle arrives earlier than 15 minutes prior to the scheduled pick-up time, the driver will park out of sight of the passenger. The driver will then wait until 15 minutes prior to the scheduled pick-up time before going to the pick-up location and sounding the horn and beginning to count the five minutes allowed for the passenger to appear.


If We're Late

If the Paratransit vehicle arrives more than 15 minutes later than the scheduled time and the passenger refuses service or does not show, this will be considered a missed trip rather than a no show. Passengers are not penalized for missed trips.


Driver Assistance

On request, the driver will assist passengers between the vehicle and entrance of a house, apartment building or other building. Such assistance must be requested in advance by notifying the reservationist when you make your reservation. If the passenger has indicated on their application that they require driver assistance regularly, the reservationist shall indicate this on the driver’s schedule for all future trips.

Driver assistance ends when the driver has assisted the passenger in getting through the main door of the building. This includes assistance through a short entryway into the climate-controlled portion of the building. If the passenger needs additional assistance beyond the main door, they should have someone meet them at the door or have a personal care attendant ride along. The driver will not assist individuals in wheelchairs into buildings that are not accessible (other than opening doors), nor will drivers push wheelchairs through areas that have not been cleared of snow.

Passengers who are unable to independently conduct themselves inside an origin/destination building lobby should have someone meet them at the door or have a personal care assistant ride along. If the destination building is locked, a personal care attendant is not along and no-one is available to meet the individual, the driver, after first receiving approval from the reservationist, may return the individual to the place of origin at the next available trip. For the safety of the passenger, consistent occurrences may result in requiring a PCA accompany the passenger.

If requested, the driver will assist with either two grocery size bags or one small collapsible cart. The driver will not bring packages past the first door. Space for packages is limited. The rider must be able to carry their packages in one trip and the packages must be safely secured while on the vehicle. Guests and personal care attendants are expected to assist the passenger.

MAT Paratransit reserves the right to refuse to service or load at a location deemed as unsafe for the passenger, driver or the vehicle/equipment, including areas not cleared of snow. The driver will attempt to find an alternate loading point which is deemed to be safe by the driver and acceptable by the passenger. The driver must be able to keep the vehicle in sight at all times, and cannot assist passengers to an entrance that hinders this.

Service will be impacted during a snow event. The drivers will only travel on roads that are reasonably clear of snow. If a passenger is leaving their residence during a snow event and plans to return to that residence that day, it is the responsibility of the passenger to arrange for snow removal on their property so there is a clear path for the driver to assist the passenger to the door. The driver is not to shovel a path to the door for the passenger.

If a major snow event is probable, service may be cancelled by the Cities of Fargo and Moorhead. Passengers are to listen to local media to find out if service has been cancelled. If it appears during the afternoon that service may be cancelled the next day, reservationists may contact riders to determine an appropriate course of action.

Ramps to the passenger’s door must be safe for both the passenger and the driver. The passenger is responsible for arranging for the ramp to be free of snow and ice. If there is a safety question such as ramp grade, MATBUS may contact Freedom Resource Center for Independent Living to assess the ramp and make recommendations.


Bags And Packages

If requested, the driver will assist with either two grocery size bags or one small collapsible cart. The driver will not bring packages past the first door of the building. Space for packages is limited. The packages must be carried in one trip and the packages must be safely secured while on the vehicle. Guests and personal care attendants are expected to assist the passenger.


Wheelchair Lift

Passengers who use the wheelchair lift will be assisted on and off the lift by the driver. It is safest for the passenger to back their mobility device onto the lift in the Paratransit vehicle. The passenger can expect their mobility device to be properly secured in four places. Wheelchairs and scooters must be secured during transport. Passengers are required to wear a seat belt and shoulder strap when available.


Mobility Aids

Riders with mobility aids are responsible for keeping their equipment in safe, working order. This includes keeping batteries charged on electric wheelchairs and scooters and keeping manual wheelchair brakes in good working order.


Keep A Clear Path!

It is the responsibility of the passenger to maintain a clear path to their door so the driver can provide door through door service. Please keep sidewalks and ramps clear of snow and do not expect the driver to shovel a path to the door.


Trip Denial

The driver may refuse to give you a ride at locations that are unsafe for either the passenger, driver or vehicle, including areas not cleared of snow.


Service Denial

Passengers may be denied Paratransit service if they are violent, seriously disruptive, or if accommodating the individual would result in a fundamental alteration of service or represent a direct threat to the health or safety of others.


Personal Care Attendant (PCA)

A personal care attendant (PCA) is considered a mobility aid and is allowed to ride free. If you require a personal care attendant, you must indicate this on the application for eligibility form or resubmit an application at such time the need is determined. Personal care attendants must have the same beginning and ending destination as the eligible individual. Examples of circumstances where you may need a PCA during transportation or at your destination could include someone to assist you seeing, walking, speaking, eating, toileting, etc.

Another "ADA Paratransit Eligible" individual will not qualify as a personal care attendant unless they are acting in the capacity of a personal care attendant.

Family members or friends are regarded as guests and not personal care attendants unless they are acting in the capacity of a personal care attendant.

Personal care attendants shall remain with the passenger during the complete trip and to/from the building. If personal care attendant is provided and capable, they will assist the passenger between the vehicle and building rather than the driver providing this assistance.

MAT Paratransit reserves the right to require a personal care attendant when transporting a passenger that has a documented medical or documented behavioral condition that could pose an unsafe situation for either the driver or any of the passengers.

The Paratransit rider is responsible for bringing their own personal care attendant (PCA). MATBUS does not provide a PCA or aide on the vehicle with the driver. The driver’s primary responsibilities are to safely secure the passenger and drive the vehicle. If an individual cannot ride unattended with strangers for up to one hour, it is the responsibility of the rider to bring a PCA.


Taking A Guest

Each passenger can have one person accompany them as a guest. More guests can ride as long as space is available and no eligible client is refused a ride.
The beginning and ending destination of the guest must be the same as yours. The guest must pay a fare to ride.

Eligible individuals may take one other individual with them as a guest. The beginning and ending destination of this guest must be the same as the eligible individual. Guests must pay for their ride (refer to Section 2.7 - Cost to Passenger/Fare). A personal care attendant does not count as a guest. You may have both a personal care attendant and one guest ride with you. More guests may accompany you if space allows; however, they cannot displace other ADA Paratransit eligible individuals.


Rider Responsibilities

All of our Paratransit riders are important to us and we strive to provide constant, reliable service. As a shared ride service it is important for Paratransit riders to understand the impact their behavior has on other Paratransit riders and service delivery. Examples of behavior that is disruptive to Paratransit service includes, but is not limited to, a rider not being ready when the driver arrives and expecting the driver to wait more than 5 minutes or return at another time, making multiple reservations then cancelling/rescheduling them within several days, not having a ticket and expecting a ride on credit, or expecting the driver to change the destination of the scheduled ride. A Paratransit rider will be notified of disruptive behavior by letter. A pattern of disruptive behavior will result in a suspension.


Pick-Up Procedures

The caller will be provided with a scheduled pick-up time. All passengers should be ready 15 minutes prior to their scheduled pick-up time and allow 15 minutes to pass beyond their pick-up time before calling the reservationists at 701-235-4464 to inquire about their ride. Passengers must be ready to leave with coat on, packages together, in the lobby, etc.

Upon arrival, the driver will sound the horn. The driver will wait five minutes for the passenger to appear. If the passenger does not appear within the five minutes, they shall be considered a "no show" (refer to Section 6.2 - Penalties Imposed for "No Shows"). The reservationist or dispatcher is not required to call the passenger if the passenger is not ready when the vehicle arrives. The driver is not required to go into the building to look for the passenger. The driver is to keep the vehicle in sight at all times.

If the vehicle arrives earlier than 15 minutes prior to the scheduled pick-up time, the driver will park out of sight of the passenger. The driver will then wait until 15 minutes prior to the scheduled pick-up time before going to the pick-up location and sounding the horn and beginning to count the five minutes allowed for the passenger to appear.

If the Paratransit vehicle arrives more than 15 minutes later than the scheduled time and the passenger refuses service or does not show, this will be considered a “missed trip” rather than a “no show” and the passenger is not obligated to pay the fare.

If the vehicle is running late more than one-half hour beyond the scheduled pick-up time, the reservationist will attempt to contact the passenger to offer them a revised pick-up time. The passenger may at that time choose to cancel the trip without obligation to pay the fare.

The entrance to the building where you are picked-up will be the same entrance that you are brought back to unless you notify the reservationist differently at the time you book your ride.


Use of Ramp/Lift and Securements/Seatbelts Inside The Vehicle

The driver will always operate the ramp or lift and keep the passenger under surveillance at all times during such operation. Passengers who use a ramp/lift will be assisted on and off the ramp/lift by the driver. It is safest for the passenger to back their mobility device onto the lift in the Paratransit vehicle. A rider may refuse to back onto the lift and enter it forward instead. The driver is to recommend the rider enter the lift backward. Service will not be denied if the passenger refuses to back their mobility device onto the lift.

For those using a mobility device, the passenger can expect their mobility device to be properly secured in four places in addition to the passenger wearing a shoulder strap seat belt. Once the mobility device is properly secured, the driver will inform dispatch on the radio “10-99, all points secured” before the vehicle is set in motion. Wheelchairs must be secured during transport. Passengers in electrically-powered wheelchairs, will have the main power switch in the "off" position at all times while the vehicle is in motion.
Refusal by the rider to allow securement devices will result in denial of service. Exceptions to the mandatory seat belt requirements will be made for medical reasons upon receipt of a written statement from a physician stating that the individual cannot be safely transported using seat belts because of a medical condition, body size or physical disability.

According to ADA, if the transit operator has a policy that requires securement, or if a rider asks that the wheelchair be secured, Section 37.165(f) of the DOT’s ADA regulations requires transit personnel to use their best efforts to secure the mobility device. Section 37.165(d) states that transit operators cannot refuse to accommodate a common wheelchair – including a scooter or other specialized mobility device that complies with the ADA regulation’s specifications -- because the wheelchair cannot be secured to the driver’s satisfaction.

According to the ADA, transit providers must carry a wheelchair and occupant if the lift and vehicle can physically accommodate them, unless doing so is inconsistent with legitimate safety requirements. "Legitimate safety requirements" includes such circumstances as a wheelchair of such size that it would block an aisle, or would be too large to enter the vehicle, or would interfere with the safe evacuation of passengers in an emergency. MATBUS ramps and lifts are not to be used for mobility devices more than 800 pounds when occupied.

Children under age eight years old or 4 foot 9 inches must use child restraint systems while riding in the Paratransit vehicle. The adult passenger is responsible for providing a child seat appropriately fit for their child and properly adjusting the seat to secure their child (such as forward/rear facing, shoulder strap height and tightness). The driver will ensure that the child seat is properly strapped by the seat belt into the vehicle. Failure to use the seat belt shall result in denial of transportation service to the client for that trip.


Capacity Constraints

The Cities of Fargo and Moorhead will not establish operational patterns or practices that significantly limit the availability of service. Therefore, records will be kept and reviewed quarterly of untimely pickups, trip denials, missed trips and excessively long trips (see definitions below) in order to consider the need for additional vehicles to meet capacity. There must be a consistent pattern and problems must be considered substantial in order to signify as capacity constraints. If a significant capacity constraint is identified, additional vehicles may be placed into service to meet the demand.

Untimely pickups: Pickups that are 15 minutes later than the scheduled time will be considered untimely pickups.

Trip denials: Regulations permit pickups to be scheduled up to an hour before or after the requested time. If the reservationist offers the individual a time beyond one hour before or after the requested time and the offered time is unacceptable to the individual, the trip will be considered "denied". Requests for same day service do not apply. Requests for service to/from areas more than 3/4 of a mile from the MATBUS Fixed Routes are not counted as trip denials. Requests for service on Sundays are not counted as trip denials since the MATBUS Fixed Routes do not operate on Sunday.

If the reservationist offers a ride within one hour before or after the requested pick-up time and the passenger refuses the ride, record it as a refusal. The return ride would also be recorded as a refusal if the passenger chooses not to take it.

Missed trip: Trips that are not completed either because the vehicle did not arrive at all or the vehicle arrived at any point outside of the pickup window and the passenger does not wish to take the trip are counted as missed trips. Missed trips cannot be counted against the passenger and the passenger is allowed to refuse to take the trip without penalty if the vehicle arrives outside of the pickup window.

Late pickup: The vehicle arrives at any point outside the pickup window and the customer elects to take the trip even if it is late.

Excessively long trips: Travel time (between pick-up and drop-off) of more than one hour will be considered an "excessively long trip".

MAT Paratransit is not responsible for operational problems caused by circumstances beyond our control, such as unanticipated weather or traffic problems (trains, accidents, etc.). Such problems will not be considered in establishing whether or not patterns that limit the availability of service exist.


Route Changes

The MAT Paratransit driver cannot change a route (the pick-up or destination points) or make detours upon passenger request without first requesting and receiving authorization from the reservationist. The reservationist has the master schedule for all routes and is aware of the impact of changing the pick-up or destination point of one vehicle in relation to the whole system.


Mobility Aids And Life Support Equipment

ADA paratransit eligible riders may travel with service animals trained to assist them. Service animals include guide dogs used by persons with vision or hearing impairments, and dogs and other animals that provide aid to persons with mobility impairments.

Service Animals: The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government. Emotional support animals are not considered service animals under ADA.

Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. Some examples include:
• Seeing eye dogs
• Alerting persons with hearing impairments to sounds.
• Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for persons with mobility impairments.
• Assisting persons with mobility impairments with balance.
• Seizure response/alert animals that alert individuals with seizure disorders to oncoming seizures and/or help the individual during and following the seizure.

Some, but not all, service animals wear special collars/harnesses, and are licensed or certified and have identification papers. If the driver is not certain that an animal is a service animal, the driver may ask the person who has the animal if it is a service animal required because of a disability. The driver may also ask what type of service the animal provides.

The Department of Justice states:
You may exclude any animal, including a service animal, from your facility or vehicle when that animal's behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. For example, any service animal that displays vicious behavior towards other passengers or the driver may be excluded. You may not make assumptions, however, about how a particular animal is likely to behave based on your past experience with other animals. Each situation must be considered individually.

Eligible riders may travel with portable life support equipment such as respirators and portable oxygen.

Riders with mobility aids are responsible for keeping their equipment in safe, working order. This includes keeping batteries charged on electric wheelchairs and scooters and keeping manual wheelchair brakes in good working order. If a rider is required to use a certain mobility aid such as a walker or cane, it is the responsibility of the rider to know when that equipment must be used to travel safely or have a personal care attendant assist them.


Prohibited Activites

No smoking, eating, or drinking is permitted while in the vehicle.

Drivers may not use any type of headphones, cellular phone or cellular phone accessory while driving/operating a transit vehicle or bus. The term “cellular phone” includes, but is not limited to: cell and mobile phones, mobile or other electronic devices for personal communications, handheld or hands-free electronic devices, ear buds, blue tooth, voice recognition, etc. Calls of an emergency nature for a driver in service may be made through the Paratransit office, and the Reservationist shall communicate the emergency to the driver by way of the City-provided two-way radio or tablet. Cellular phones will be turned “off” while a driver is in control of the transit vehicle or bus; having the cellular phone in vibrate or silent mode will not be acceptable.


Disruptive Behavior

As a shared ride service it is important for Paratransit riders to understand the impact their behavior has on other Paratransit riders and service delivery. Examples of behavior that is disruptive to Paratransit service includes, but is not limited to, a rider not being ready when the driver arrives and expecting the driver to wait more than 5 minutes or return at another time, making multiple reservations then canceling/rescheduling them within several days, not having a ticket and expecting to ride on credit, or expecting the driver to change the destination of the scheduled ride. A letter identifying their disruptive behavior will be sent to the Paratransit rider. A pattern of disruptive behavior will result in a letter being sent outlining the penalty and how to appeal the penalty.


Denied Service

MAT Paratransit may refuse to provide service to an individual because that individual engages in violent, seriously disruptive, or illegal conduct. However, the City shall not refuse to provide service solely because the individual's disability results in appearance or involuntary behavior that may offend, annoy, or inconvenience employees of the City, contractor or other persons.

MAT Paratransit reserves the right to require a personal care attendant when transporting a passenger that has a documented medical or documented behavioral condition that could pose an unsafe situation for the individual, driver or any of the passengers. MAT Paratransit may suspend eligibility or permanently revoke riding privileges if our records indicate that the passenger has threatened or abused a driver or other passenger.

MAT Paratransit reserves the right to deny entrance into a vehicle if the passenger appears disorderly or leads the driver to conclude that the passenger will exhibit disruptive behavior that would pose a safety threat not only to the driver but also the other passengers, including, but not limited to, intoxication and use of illegal drugs.

The use of offensive language when addressing the reservationist, driver or other passengers is not allowed. Refusal to discontinue usage upon request may result in trip denial. Denials of service shall be recorded. If denial is made for reasons other than the time requested was not available, the reason will be documented and the passenger or their parent/guardian will be notified via mail or phone call.