By JEFF MEYERS
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Clinton County residents who have difficulty getting about because of a disability may have options for travel available through the county’s paratransit program.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, certain individuals are eligible for transportation if their disability prevents them from independently using a normal bus route or if routes don’t fit the required destination or time needed by the individual.
For instance, people who cannot understand or navigate the system’s fixed routes because of vision impairment or mental disability are eligible.
“Demand for the paratransit program is increasing,” said James Bosley, director of Clinton County Public Transit, while adding that “paratransit is not intended to meet all of the travel needs of all persons with disabilities.”
The program currently has 16 clients who visit the H.K Freedman Renal Center for dialysis three times per week, Bosley noted.
“In some cases, the dialysis patient may be full of energy (on the way to treatment), but dialysis takes so much out of a person that the patient may not be able to return home without assistance.”
Dialysis patients using the program account for nearly 5,000 paratransit trips annually, Bosley noted, but the system still needs to allow for all other individuals who may need specialized services to travel from one point of the county to another.
“We currently have two buses dedicated to this service: one for the Plattsburgh area and one for the rest of the county,” Bosley said.
“ADA regulations require that we offer paratransit services in those areas where we offer fixed routes. We believe we go above and beyond those regulations.”
County residents who qualify for the program must apply for paratransit services. Application forms are available at the Public Transit office, 137 Margaret St., Plattsburgh, or by visiting the website at clintoncountypublictransit.com.
The application has two forms: one to be filled out by the applicant and the other by a physician. Each form must be submitted separately.
“Once I get the completed application (with both forms), I have 21 days to approve or disapprove the application,” Bosley said. “If an application is declined, the applicant can go through an appeals process.”
When the application is approved, a client can request use of the paratransit bus for a trip up to 14 days before transportation is needed but must be received by the day before the bus is needed.
“With a lot of regular use, we need to make sure we can fit requests into the daily schedule,” Bosley said. “The earlier a person schedules a trip, the better chances of getting a requested time.”
City of Plattsburgh paratransit buses are available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. Rural buses are available from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
The service does not operate on Sundays or major holidays.
Paratransit users living within three-quarters of a mile from a fixed route can request a route deviation to be picked up at home.
Fees for paratransit services are $2 one way for trips within the Plattsburgh urban area and $3.50 one way for rural areas.
All other buses in the Public Transit fleet are fully accessible to persons with disabilities.
Public Transit also offers a Senior Bus Dial-A-Ride program in coordination with the Office for the Aging. The program provides transportation to specific areas across the county every other week to help older residents develop a regular schedule for trips to the grocery store and other needs.
For instance, the bus travels to Rouses Point, Champlain and Chazy every second Monday and to Mooers and Altona every second Tuesday of the month.
The service is free for people 60 and older, though donations are welcome, and $10 for anyone under 60.
Reservations are required by calling 561-1452.
Email Jeff Meyers: firstname.lastname@example.org
TO LEARN MORE
For more information on Clinton County Public Transport, call 565-4713 (TDD Relay: (800) 662-1220) or visit the website at http://www.clintoncountypublictransit.com/