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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

If you experience an issue with the ADA Paratransit service that requires investigation, please do not hesitate to contact the Customer Service Department at (860) 724-5340 extension 9, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., email hartfordcustomerservice@firstgroup.com, or fax (860)247-0031. You may also write to: Customer Service Department c/o First Transit, 249 Wawarme Avenue, Hartford, CT 06114.  If you are able, please file any and all complaints within 48 hours of the incident.

Rider Attendees: Brian Riley, Beth Basco, Gretchen Closs, Colleen Walker, Dinah Davis, Deitra Davis, Shenique Hall, Yvonne H. Porter, Carolyn Brooks, James Hulbert, Linda Ernst, Karen Nazgiewicz, Bettie Mink, Bernice Hartfield, Tina Doyle, Margaret Green and Barbara Morgan

First Transit (FT) Attendees: Andrew Burke, Brian Helm, Stephen Stuart, Rita Voskanova

Greater Hartford Transit District (the “District”) Attendees: Pat Williams, Margaret Pieniazek and Vicki Shotland

The forum began at 11:00 a.m. at the Northend Senior Center, 80 Coventry Street, Hartford, CT.
There were a total of seventeen (17) attendees. Attendees were requested to state their name and concern within a five (5) minute time frame. District and First Transit staff agreed to hear concerns and to address them after each participant; however, due to the number of participants who requested to speak the answers were not verbally given at the forum participants but are noted below under each participant’s comments.  

July 2016 passenger trips were 35,686, no shows 1,325 (4%), and cancellations 9,458 (27%).  August 2016 passenger trips were 39,788, no shows 1,668 (3%), and cancellations 8,635 (22%).

Customer Service:
In July 2016, 196 comments were received from passengers and 50% were compliments, 13% driver, dispatch, reservationist, and/or scheduling concerns, 8% late/early arrival, ride length or missed trip concerns, 24% invalid concerns, 0% mechanical and/or related to safety concerns, 2% door-to-door and/or related to wrong drop-off or pick-up concerns, 3% courtesy, 0% no-show concerns and 0% other.

In August 2016, 214 comments were received from passengers; 40% were compliments, 12% driver, dispatch, reservationist and/or scheduling concerns, 14% late/early arrival, ride length or missed trip concerns, 28% invalid concerns, 3% mechanical and/or related to safety concerns, 1% door-to-door and/or related to wrong drop-off or pick-up concerns, 1% courtesy, 1% no-show concerns and 0% other.

Staff Comments:
Pat Williams informed the group that Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDoT) has introduced the following ADA Paratransit fare increase. If approved it will be effective on or after December 1, 2016.

  • One Way – current fare $3.00 increase to $3.50
  • ADA Paratransit 10 Ride Ticket  Book – current fare $24.00 increase to $28.00

Andy Burke provided the participants with information about the revised No Show/Late Cancellation Policy #30 which will be effective on October 1, 2016. Passengers may obtain copies from their Paratransit driver or by leaving a voice message on (860) 247-5329 extension 3100 and one will be mailed to you. Copies were also handed out at the forum.  The revised policy will also be updated on the District’s website at: hartfordtransit.org.

Participants’ Comments

Beth Bosco
Her addresses are not being updated in the system. Why weren’t the drivers aware of the backup on the highway on Sunday, September 11th which caused her trip on this day to be late?  When she transfers out of her mobility device to a seat, the drivers are not properly securing her mobility device.
Staff response
Passengers should provide their change of address as early as possible. They may call and leave a voice message on (860) 247-5329 extension 3100 or leave the information with a reservationist at the time of booking. ADA Paratransit does receive information from Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDoT) and CTTransit when there will be traffic congestion in various towns or highways.  Brian Helm will review with drivers the proper way to secure a stationary mobility device.

Carolyn Brooks
She is dissatisfied with the service and nothing has changed since the last forum. Drivers do not get out of the van to assist her. She is provided a scheduled time which is an hour later than what she has requested.
Staff response
It is imperative that if a passenger does not receive door-to-door assistance they should immediately contact the Customer Service Department. Federal regulations allow ADA Paratransit to negotiate reservation times up to one (1) hour before or one (1) hour after the requested time.

James Hurlbert
A driver informed him that she is allergic to dogs and she requested that he move to the back of the vehicle with his service animal. He was very uncomfortable sitting in the back. Drivers come to the door, but do not wait for him to come out of his house to assist him to the vehicle. He receives conflicting information from the drivers and dispatch when asked if there are any other pickups or drop offs.
Staff response
Service animals are welcome to sit anywhere they want to on the bus. He should inform the Customer Service Department as soon as possible if this should happen again. Dispatchers are constantly updating and making changes on driver schedules. It is the responsibility of the driver to check in with dispatch for these updates or to view them on their MDTs so that they can accurately inform passengers.

Yvonne Porter
She has experienced excessively long trips and drivers backtracking to take her home. When she is not ready to be picked up at the scheduled time, why does it take so long for the driver to come back to pick her up?
Staff response
Customer Service will review her trip history and respond back to her regarding the trips that she stated were excessive in length. If a passenger is not ready at their scheduled time and they are at a medical facility, their ride will have to be re-booked into a pre-existing route for that day.

Dinah Davis
On two (2) separate occasions she experienced inefficient scheduling of her trips. She received a customer service letter regarding the matter, but she stated the information in the letter was inaccurate.
Staff response
If a passenger is not satisfied with a customer service response, they have the option to dispute it with Customer Service.

Colleen Walker
She is satisfied and appreciates the service.

Bettie Mink
She stated that the buses could use some shocks. She has been late due to complications at the dialysis appointment and would like to make sure this does not go against her. In addition, when there are issues like this, she has to wait longer for another bus to arrive.
Staff response
All buses are maintained under Federal Transit Administration standards. If a passenger has to cancel their trip less than two (2) hours in advance of that scheduled trip due to a medical appointment or an issue beyond their control, it is not considered a valid “No Show.” Additionally, a passenger should follow-up with the customer service department to ensure the trip was reconciled correctly. Passengers are asked to do this within the same month that the incident occurred.

Bernice Hartfield
In addition to the driver backtracking when he drops her off at her destination, she has experienced inefficient scheduling and had to wait for a ride for more than a ½ hour.
Staff response
Passengers should remember that ADA Paratransit trips are complementary to CTTransit fixed route service. The Federal Transit Administration allows for transit agencies to consider all elements of fixed route trips between origins and destinations when determining comparability in paratransit travel time, including; walking time to the stop/station from the origin address, waiting time, in-vehicle time (for all trip segments), transfer times (if any), and walking time from the final stop/station to the destination address.  Our drivers are encouraged to use the most efficient route when possible. Due to passenger appointment times the driver may have to backtrack in order to stay on schedule.

Tina Doyle (Director of Berlin Senior Center)
Why doesn’t ADA cover all of Berlin? A passenger was picked up at the Berlin Senior Center to be transported to a convalescent home. However, the driver went past the convalescent home in order to drop off another passenger, and then went back and dropped off the passenger residing at the convalescent home.
Staff Response
The ADA Paratransit service shall provide complementary paratransit service to origins and destinations within corridors with a width of three-fourths (¾) of a mile on each side of each fixed route.  The corridor shall include an area with a three-fourths (¾) of a mile radius at the ends of each fixed route.   Based on those federal regulations the Town of Berlin is not fully covered by our service. When there is a discrepancy with a specific trip it should be reported to Customer Service as soon as possible for investigation.

Margaret Green
She commented that drivers do not know where they are going. When there are numerous passengers on the bus, and why is she dropped off last? She has problems not being provided with trips to a specific location.
Staff response
The Customer service department will follow-up with her regarding her concerns. Pat Williams will review eligibility conditions with her as well.

Linda Ernest
She has been late to doctor’s appointments. She has experienced reckless driving from a particular driver. She feels threatened when some passengers are misbehaving on the bus.
Staff response
Customer Service will investigate her specific trip concerns. The District has a policy which addresses disruptive behavior.

The forum concluded at 12:10 pm.
The next ADA Participation Group forum is scheduled for Wednesday November 9th, at 5:00 p.m. in the District’s Conference Room at Union Station, One Union Place, Hartford, Any changes of the time or location will be posted in advance. You may make a reservation for Paratransit service to and from the meeting by calling (860) 724-5340 and selecting option “1”.  The ADA bus fare will be waived for this meeting.  Please remember to give everyone a chance to participate; forum attendees need to keep initial questions and/or comments to five (5) minutes. Follow-up comments should also be kept to five (5) minutes.

This information is available in accessible format and in languages other than English upon request.