December 11, 2002

Chicago Transit Authority customers with disabilities who rely on the CTA for their transportation, but are not able to use buses or trains, will benefit from enhanced services approved by the Chicago Transit Board at its monthly meeting today. The Board approved a contract with StrataGen Systems, Inc. to provide an Automated Reservation, Scheduling and Dispatching System for the CTA's Paratransit Operations, and voted to make the experimental Mobility Direct program permanent.

The $2.3 million StrataGen Systems, Inc. contract funded by the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) will enable CTA's paratransit providers to schedule and dispatch rides more efficiently, resulting in quicker travel times for customers. The contract includes the purchase of computer equipment, computer software and professional services to implement the system. Additionally, the system will help ensure that Special Services trips are reserved and scheduled according to the guidelines outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The company has a similar system successfully in place on New York City's transit system.

The Chicago Transit Board also moved today to make its experimental Mobility Direct program a permanent part of its service on February 1, 2003. Mobility Direct allows customers with disabilities to take regularly scheduled taxi rides to and from the same destination without pre-purchasing vouchers as required under the CTA's Taxi Access Program (TAP). Customers pay $1.50 for a one-way trip.

"Expanding the Mobility Direct program along with the implementation of the StrataGen system enables the CTA to better serve customers with disabilities," said CTA Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett. ?Both of these programs provide enhanced options for our paratransit customers."

"Mobility Direct provides another incentive for customers who frequently book trips through our Special Services program to consider using taxicabs. They offer direct, non-stop transportation to and from a destination for $1.50 each way," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?Mobility Direct is convenient and has been instrumental in offering many of our paratransit customers flexible options in a cost-efficient manner."

Mobility Direct reduces in-vehicle travel time, improves on-time performance, eliminates the need to schedule a trip 24 hours in advance and decreases per-trip cost to the CTA.

By making taxi rides more convenient for paratransit customers, the CTA has saved over 30 percent on Mobility Direct rides compared to the same service being provided by Special Services vehicles since the Mobility Direct pilot began. During 2003, the average cost of a taxi trip is projected to be $13.14, compared to the average Special Services cost of $26.39 per trip.

The CTA launched the Mobility Direct pilot in February 2002 in conjunction with the Checker Taxi Association. The new permanent service will include other taxi providers as well as Checker. As of November 30, 2002 regular TAP ridership increased by 57 percent to 188,233 compared to 116,322 TAP trips provided during the first 11 months of 2001. When adding the 52,356 Mobility Direct trips provided between February ? November under the pilot program, total taxi trips provided to the CTA's ADA-paratransit eligible customers were up 104 percent from the same period last year.

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