By Tasha Bartholomew, @tashbart

SamTrans_Redi_Wheels_-_Para_Transit_Service__rdax_420x279Sunday, July 26, marked the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed into law by former President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

In honor of the ADA’s silver anniversary, the Board of Directors for SamTrans, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (Caltrain) and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority are expected to pass proclamations, at their August board meetings, recognizing this important milestone.

The ADA is federal legislation that guarantees persons with disabilities full and equal access to the same services and accommodations that are available to people without disabilities.  The ADA requires public transit operators to provide paratransit service to persons with disabilities that are comparable to the level of fixed-route service provided.

But SamTrans began providing service for those with special needs years before the federal government required transit agencies to do so.

SamTrans offers free one-on-one travel training to teach San Mateo County residents with disabilities, that are 18 years or older, how to ride the bus.  Working with skilled instructors, participants learn where to wait, how to get on the right bus, how to pay the fare, where to sit, how to get off at the right stop, how to make connections and how to get help if they have trouble during the trip. Candidates for travel training include those who use a wheelchair or walker, who are blind or visually impaired or people with developmental disabilities.

Persons with disabilities who cannot independently ride fixed-route transit may be eligible for paratransit service. Paratransit is for persons with disabilities who cannot independently use regular SamTrans bus service some of the time or all of the time. SamTrans provides paratransit using Redi-Wheels on the bayside of the county and RediCoast on the coastside.

SamTrans is a proud member of the San Mateo County Paratransit Coordinating Council.  The PCC is an organization dedicated to improving the quality and availability of paratransit services in San Mateo County.

Dale Edwards, former chair of the PCC, has been involved with the organization for many years, and has emphasized the importance of working as a team with SamTrans.

“Redi-Wheels and RediCoast allow me to maintain my independence,” Edwards said.  “Paratransit also opens doors of opportunity to get involved in the community.  It would be hard to be part of a volunteer group without these transportation services.”

Caltrain also offers free travel training to teach people with disabilities how to ride the train.  Participants learn where to wait for the train, how to purchase tickets and tag Clipper, how to make connections and how to get help if lost or having trouble on the trip.

Every train has at least one wheelchair accessible car that can accommodate up to three wheelchairs, and service animals are allowed on the trains and onboard SamTrans buses.

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