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December 3 is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This year’s theme from the United Nations is “Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership.” Metro Atlanta’s social and economic growth and well-being depends on the participation and leadership of people of all abilities. Access is a key component to opening up those opportunities and that’s why it’s important to ensure that transit (and our transportation network as a whole) works for everyone! Metro Atlanta transit authorities provide accessibility services to make sure that, no matter your needs, you can get where you need to go so that our city continues to be a diverse hub of service and innovation.

So what exactly are accessibility services?

A GCT patron using a paratransit vehicle

Accessibility services are considerations taken to ensure that individuals of different abilities can effectively use a resource – in this case, our transit system!

We sat down with Gwinnett County Transit’s (GCT) Destiny O’Loughlin to talk about what they’re doing to ensure that their transit is accessible.

GCT has three primary forms of accessibility:

  1. Fixed-route Accessibility. Their entire fleet of buses is made accessible for individuals with mobility limitations by ensuring that all buses that run along fixed routes have a ramp for mobility devices and can become lower. (MARTA busses have these features, too!)
  2. Half Fare. GCT provides half fare rides for individuals who are disabled or receiving Medicare.
  3. Paratransit. GCT operates curb-to-curb and door-to-door paratransit vehicles, which do not operate along fixed routes like standard bus service.

GCT’s paratransit provides essential mobility services to over 23,000 riders annually, with about 75 riders per day in 2019.

How does GCT paratransit work?

Paratransit riders can schedule one-time trips or repeat trips. Repeat trips are scheduled through a subscription service for individuals who have a standing appointment on a regular basis. GCT also has Where’s My Ride text alerts so that individuals can receive text updates about the status of their ride without the need for a smart phone.

A GCT employee setting up a paratransit vehicle

If you’re nervous about trying public transit, don’t worry! GCT offers a travel training program for their fixed-route system to help people learn how to use transit services, including their commuter bus that goes to Downtown Atlanta and Decatur. They host bus ride events for groups and training for individuals of all abilities to help everyone get accustomed to and comfortable with using transit on their own.  

Recently, GCT also successfully piloted a micro-transit service that provides rides to users on demand. While paratransit services provide necessary, consistent accessibility services, they require a 24-hour notice to access the service. The micro-transit pilot made one-time trips available on demand, making it a good option to fill in the gaps when individuals needed to make a last-minute trip.

So, whether you need specialized accessibility services or not, GCT wants to make sure that you can access a ride when you need one! Upon approval, you can be on the look-out for a full-time micro-transit service in 2020!

Want to learn more about GCT’s accessibility services? Click here.

For accessibility services at MARTA, click here.

To be directed to more information on any of the other metro Atlanta transit service providers, visit our page on Transit Providers in Atlanta.

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