Transportation Delayed is Transportation Denied


October 20, 2017 | by Emma Olson

Study Finds Only 62% of Chicago Rides are On Time, Coalition Files Complaint with Federal Transit Administration


Bridget Hayman

Director of Communications

(312) 640-2129

Chicago – A report released today by Access Living finds that only 62% of the 186 paratransit pick-ups recorded through multiple surveys around Chicago were on-time. In contrast, Pace – which administers the paratransit program in Chicago – generally reports an on-time pick-up performance rate of 87.5%.

The surveys also found that when pick-ups were late, they were often very late. 41% of late pick-ups were over 40 minutes late. 16% were over an hour late.

Paratransit is the public transportation system for people whose disabilities make it too difficult for them to ride conventional public transportation. To use the system, paratransit riders schedule pick-ups 24 hours in advance of a trip, and arrange a specific pick-up time with the paratransit carrier. Pace considers a pick-up to be on-time if it occurs within 20 minutes of the scheduled pick-up time.

Even though paratransit vehicles are equipped with GPS technology that can track specific pick-up times, Pace’s on-time performance reports rely on driver self-reporting. Because the on-time rate in the surveys is so different from the rate reported by Pace, the Report concludes that Pace’s reliance on driver self-reporting is misplaced and Pace’s published on-time rate is not accurate.

Concurrent with the release of this Report, a coalition of organizations filed a complaint with the Federal Transit Administration (“FTA”). The complaint alleges that Pace’s on-time performance is so low that it violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

To fix this problem, the complaint asks the FTA to demand that Pace: (a) track pick-up times via its GPS capability, (b) enforce penalty clauses already in its contracts for late pick-ups, and (c) appoint an independent auditor to both uncover the reasons for the low on-time performance rate and propose action steps for improvement.

“This is about our basic civil rights,” said Dr. Ayo Maat, President of IMPRUVE, a paratransit advocacy group. “We can’t participate in society, hold down a job, or even get regular medical care if we don’t have reasonably reliable transportation. Chicago’s paratransit system isn’t reliable enough to meet those needs.” 

To view the full report, download it from the Resources section of this page.