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METRO ADA Compliance Review - July 3, 2012

Location: Houston, TX 
Date of Final Review: July 3, 2012 

Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) Transmittal Letter

Dear Mr. Greanias:

This letter concerns the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) ADA Complementary Paratransit Service Review of METRO's METROLift service, which was performed August 16-20, 2010. FTA would like to thank you and your staff for the unflagging cooperation provided to FTA staff and the review team during the onsite review and for your June 14 response to the Draft Report (response). Enclosed is a copy of the Final Report, which will be posted on PTA's website on our ADA page.

FTA is pleased to inform you that Finding 5.9.6 is closed. METRO's response provided information on policies and procedures to meet its obligations under §§27.13(b) and 27.121(b) of the DOT ADA regulations for keeping copies of complaints on file for one year and maintaining a summary of complaints on file for five years. Twenty-eight findings remain open.

We appreciated the opportunity to speak with Arturo Jackson on June 26, 2012, to discuss some of the open findings and METRO's response, which is incorporated in the enclosed attachments. After we review the updated version of the METRO Lift Program Guide (Guide), which METRO agreed to submit, and after the online version is updated, FTA will determine the additional findings that will be closed. Mr. Jackson anticipated that the changes to the online version would be complete by June 29; on the call, he also agreed to revise that version to reflect the requirement under §37.123(e)(2) concerning paratransit eligible individuals.

The following six open findings were discussed on the June 26 call:

Service hours (Finding 5.9.5)- This finding was based on the METROLift service hours as listed in the June 2010 edition of the Guide. This finding remains open, as public information is undergoing revision.

Eligibility based on trip purpose (Finding 6.6.3)- The "transition processing" mentioned in the response refers to METRO's process of identifying and -2- contacting the more than 300 eligible riders whose eligibility was based on trip purpose. This finding remains open, and we anticipate receiving the information described in the finding.

Telephone performance standard (Finding 7.6.1) - FTA appreciates METRO confirming that it tracks all hold times, including those longer than four minutes. This finding remains open, as a revised performance standard is needed.

Opportunity for negotiation (Finding 8.5.1)- At the time of the review, an opportunity for negotiation was not available at the time of the reservation. Please see page 68-69 of the Final Report. During observations of the reservation process, review team members and FT A staff noticed when riders called to place trip requests, reservationists provided an estimated pickup time and informed riders that they should call back after 7:00p.m. on the day before service to request the final scheduled pickup time ("User Times") for their trips from dispatch, as reservations would be closed. At the time of the review, in the final batch scheduling process, times requested by riders could change by up 20 minutes, from 20 minutes before the time requested to 20 minutes after the time requested, During our observations, riders were informed of this each time they called and placed trip requests. The June 2010 edition of the Guide also informed riders that estimated times could change by up to 20 minutes (page 12). This finding remains open.

Honoring "User Times" communicated to riders (Finding 9.8.2)- FTA appreciates METRO's response confirming that its policy is that "User Times" should not change. FTA agrees that at the time of the review, the ~~user Times" did not change for the majority of riders; they did change for some, however. Please see pages 74-75 of the Final Report for the review team's analysis of these changes for the sample day (August 16, 2010). The analysis compared the "User Times" generated after scheduling with those times that appeared in Trapeze after the trip had been provided. As shown in Table 9.1, 97.1 percent of the trips (4,403) had the same "User Times" after scheduling and after the trip was provided. Another 2.4 percent (111 trips) had differing "User Times," but there was also a new time requested by the rider. METRO Lift schedulers and/or dispatchers had adjusted the "User Times" for the remaining 0.5 percent of the trips (24 trips), and neither METRO staff nor the review team could determine the reason for the adjustment. The changes in "User Times" for nine of these trips raise concerns about whether METRO Lift honored the one-hour trip negotiation window; "User Times" for seven trips were changed by between 30 and 59 minutes and those for two trips were changed by at least 60 minutes. Furthermore, METRO's policy that any change in the "User Time" up to 20 minutes is acceptable may lead to unwarranted rider no-shows for those riders who expected an on-time pickup based on the original time, rather than an adjusted "User Time" that METROLift did not communicate to them. This fmding remains open and we look forward to receiving the information described in the finding.

No-Ride suspension policy (Finding 9.8.6)- As discussed on the June 26 call, this finding remains open. Further revisions to the policy are needed, as described in the finding.

At this time, we ask METRO to provide a written response listing its proposed corrective actions and implementation dates to address the specific findings in the Final Report. After reviewing METRO's proposed corrective action plan, FTA will work with METRO to establish specific milestones and timelines that FTA will use to monitor METRO's progress, with the goal of resolving as many of the findings as expeditiously as possible.

As discussed in the letter transmitting the Draft Report, in formulating its corrective actions in response to the ADA paratransit eligibility findings, METRO is advised to take care prior to adding additional steps to the paratransit eligibility process, to avoid creating an unreasonable administrative burden on applicants and prospective applicants. FTA staff is available to provide technical assistance on this issue.

Please provide METRO's corrective action plan electronically within 30 days of the date of this letter to Susan Clark, Equal Opportunity Specialist, via email at sue.clark@dot.goy, with a copy to Aida Douglas, Acting FTA Region 6 Civil Rights Officer, at aida.douglas@dot.gov. We look forward to working with METRO. Thank you.

Sincerely,

JohnR. Day
ADA Team Leader
FTA Office of Civil Rights

Enclosures
cc: Robert C. Patrick, Regional Administrator, FT A Region 6
Aida Douglas, Acting Regional Civil Rights Officer, FTA Region 6
Art Jackson, METRO Manager of Transportation Programs
Mary Ann Dendor, METRO ADA Administrator
Michael Andrade, METRO Manager ofMETROLift Services
Nimfa Muench, METRO Director of Contracted Services
Gilbert Andrew Garcia, CF A, Chairman (copy enclosed)
Margaret Menger, Senior Advisor and Director of Board Relations
METRO Board of Directors
Board Office Metropolitan Transit Authority
P.O.Box 61429
Houston, TX 77208-1429

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