June 5, 2002

The Chicago Transit Board today passed an ordinance to extend the Mobility Direct pilot program that allows customers with disabilities to take regularly scheduled taxi rides without pre-purchasing vouchers as required under the CTA's Taxi Access Program (TAP).

The CTA launched the Mobility Direct pilot in February 2002 in conjunction with the Checker Taxi Association. Limited to 265 participants, the program has already enrolled 80 percent (213 customers) of the allowable total in the first three months of operation. Since that time, the program has generated more than 1,600 trips per week.

Under new guidelines, the CTA will increase the duration of the pilot program from six months to a year, allow more customers to participate in the program and reduce the minimum number of repeat round-trips required for participation in the program from three to two per week. By opening the program to customers who need only two regular trips per week, the CTA will be able to serve more disabled customers and better gauge the interest in this service.

?We believe that this program has shown enough promise during this initial phase to warrant its extension so we may collect more data and lay the groundwork for it to become a permanent program," said CTA Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett. "Expanding the program will enable the CTA to better serve customers with disabilities."

Initial feedback from customers participating in the pilot has been positive. The advantages of Mobility Direct versus TAP include the fact that customers do not have to purchase TAP vouchers ahead of time or book each trip separately. Like TAP, Mobility Direct services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. On average, each Mobility Direct trip costs the CTA $13.18, compared to $25.32 for Special Services trips that involve vans.

"Mobility Direct provides another incentive for customers who frequently book vans through our Special Services program to consider taxicabs instead since they offer direct, non-stop transportation to and from a destination for $1.50 each way," added CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?You can?t beat the program for convenience and Mobility Direct has been instrumental in offering our paratransit customers flexible options in a cost-efficient manner."

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