Who is Eligible
Paratransit eligibility is defined by the ADA (49 CFR PART 37.123) and includes three categories:
- ADA Category 1: A person who is unable to board, ride, or exit any vehicle independently on the fixed route system that is readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.
- ADA Category 2: A person who needs the assistance of a wheelchair lift and one is not available on the fixed route service during the time the individual wishes to travel. (All Capital Metro fixed route vehicles are fully accessible).
- ADA Category 3: A person who has an impairment-related condition that prevents getting to or leaving a bus stop.
Types of Eligibilty
MetroAccess assigns categories of eligibility to passengers based on functional abilities. Eligibility categories are outlined within this section. Passengers certified for MetroAccess will be granted eligibility for service up to four (4) years, depending on the type of eligibility granted.
Passengers are required to provide new or additional information related to their mobility any time the passenger's mobility level or disability significantly changes, even if it is not yet time to recertify for service.
Individuals may qualify as unconditionally eligible if they are unable to access or ride the fixed route system under any reasonable circumstances. Individuals who meet ADA criteria for full unconditional paratransit service eligibility may schedule rides from any origin to any destination within the ADA service area, during service hours comparable to fixed route service. Unconditional eligibility will be granted for up to four years.
Unconditionally eligible passengers will be required to recertify through the standard in-person eligibility process after their eligibility periods end.
Passengers who have a disability or condition which permanently prevents them from using the fixed route system, now or at any point in the future, and who have already attended an in-person interview at least once, may be allowed to bypass the standard eligibility recertification process. These qualifying passengers will be notified that they are not required to undergo an in-person eligibility review to recertify for service; instead they will be required to update their information on an ongoing basis.
Some applicants are able to use the fixed route system at least some of the time, under certain conditions. Conditionally eligible passengers include persons who are eligible for paratransit only when certain conditions exist including, but not limited to, seasonal (cold, heat, dark, light), pathway (uneven, curb cuts, incline, inaccessible bus stop, complex traffic, and distance), navigational, or other applicable conditions. Accommodation for conditionally eligible passengers may also include transportation between an inaccessible location and the accessible fixed route.
Conditionally eligible passengers are only authorized to use MetroAccess when the conditions are present. As an example, when a person designated “extreme heat only” needs to ride in the middle of a hot summer day in Austin, they can use MetroAccess, but on a cool fall day, they would be required to ride regular fixed route service.
The simple rule to remember, if a passenger is determined conditionally eligible, is:
If I am able to take the trip on the regular fixed route bus, then I must take my trip on the fixed route bus.
A functional assessment may be used to determine the conditions under which a person is eligible for paratransit service. The details of these travel conditions will be included in the eligibility decision letter the applicant receives by mail.
Passengers who have temporary disabilities or conditions which prevent them from accessing fixed route service may qualify for transitional eligibility. Passengers will be eligible to receive services for a length of time determined by a qualified transportation professional, using information gathered during the eligibility process.
The length of time eligibility is granted will be based on the unique needs of the passenger. Passengers will be notified by Capital Metro at least 45 days before the transitional eligibility expires, as long as the eligibility period they have been granted exceeds this time frame.
If the temporary situation lasts longer than originally anticipated, the individual may be required to repeat the verification process and submit a new application. Transitional eligibility is granted for up to two (2) years.
Eligibility for Children ages 5 and under
Children five (5) years of age and younger will be considered for paratransit eligibility based on the functional ability of both the accompanying adult and child (as a team) to use fixed route service. When an eligible child is traveling with an adult (who is serving as a Personal Care Attendant), a fare must be paid for the child and the adult attendant rides free.
Applicants who have completed the paratransit eligibility process (with all necessary documentation received), but who have not received communication from Capital Metro within 21 calendar days from receipt of the completed application, automatically receive presumptive eligibility. This entitles the applicant to unconditional eligibility automatically beginning on the 22nd day and ending when official notification of the eligibility decision from Capital Metro has been received by the applicant.
Presumptive Eligibility does not apply in cases where additional documentation is requested or when the applicant does not complete the eligibility process.
Out-of-Town Visitors with Disabilities
Visitors to the Capital Metro service area may be eligible to receive temporary paratransit services from MetroAccess without the need to apply through the Capital Metro application process. This also applies to MetroAccess passengers who wish to travel to other cities that offer their own paratransit services. Visitor status is limited to 21 (may be non-consecutive) days of paratransit service in a year.
Visitors with disabilities should contact the MetroAccess Eligibility office, at 512-389-7501, as far in advance as possible either to receive service or to request that verification of current MetroAccess certification be sent to another city.
Visitors must provide current ADA eligibility for paratransit service from the city or region in which they reside or documentation of place of residence and nature of their disability. Visitors who require more than 21 days of service in the year will be required to apply for and complete the full MetroAccess eligibility process.
Recertification for Existing Customers
Passengers are required to recertify their MetroAccess eligibility every four (4) years or sooner, depending on the type of eligibility granted and potential changes of circumstances.
Most passengers will be required to come back to MetroAccess to participate in the in-person eligibility review upon the expiration of eligibility.
If a passenger's disability or mobility improves to the point where paratransit is no longer needed before recertification, he or she must notify MetroAccess.
A paratransit eligibility recertification application will be mailed by Capital Metro approximately 60 days before eligibility expires.
Passengers should call MetroAccess to schedule their assessment appointment at least 21 calendar days in advance of their eligibility expiration date to avoid an interruption of service.
Passengers who do not complete the recertification process before their eligibility expires may have a lapse in service until an eligibility determination is made.
Passengers who choose not to recertify at the time their service expires may still choose to re-apply for the service at any time in the future.
Capital Metro reserves the right to review eligibility on an as-needed basis for registered MetroAccess passengers. This is needed to ensure that registered passengers continue to meet eligibility criteria and to determine if or how the passenger's transportation needs have changed.
The Eligibility Process for New and Recertifying Customers
To participate in the MetroAccess Eligibility Process, the following must occur: =*An applicant completes an Applicant Questionnaire.
- A professional familiar with the applicant's condition(s) completes a Professional Verification.
- The applicant schedules an in-person eligibility appointment, bringing the Applicant
- Questionnaire and Professional Verification paperwork to the appointment.
- The applicant participates in the in-person eligibility appointment consisting of an orientation, an interview, and (as needed) an assessment of the applicant's functional abilities.
- The applicant may, if desired, present additional documentation regarding the applicant's functional abilities.
Following completion of these steps and receipt of any additional requested information, the Eligibility Department is then able to make an eligibility determination.
The MetroAccess Application Packet consists of:
Applicant Questionnaire: The applicant or their designated representative must provide contact information such as a current home address, telephone number, emergency contact, e-mail, etc. The applicant or their designated representative will also provide information related to the applicant's functional abilities. The informed consent portion of the questionnaire MUST be signed.
Professional Verification: A qualified healthcare professional, with specific knowledge of the applicant's disability or medical condition, must complete (and sign) the Professional Verification. The Professional Verification CANNOT be completed by the applicant.
The qualified professional may be a physician, physical therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, qualified mental health professional, counselor from an established agency, or other similar professional. The professional must: 1) Verify that the applicant is an individual who has at least one disability or medical condition; and 2) Specify, from a medical perspective, how the applicant's disability (or disabilities), disabling health condition(s), and any related medications affect the applicant's functional abilities.
Scheduling an In-person Eligibility Appointment
Once the Applicant Questionnaire and Professional Verification forms are complete, the applicant may schedule an in-person eligibility appointment by contacting the MetroAccess Eligibility Department at 512-389-7501. The completed Applicant Questionnaire and Professional Verification must be brought with the applicant to appointment. Receipt of incomplete documentation will delay completion of the application process.
Eligibility reviews are scheduled in the order in which requests are received. A limited number of Capital Metro in-person eligibility review appointments are available each day. MetroAccess does not assign a higher priority to any applicant over another.
Free transportation to and from the in-person eligibility appointment is available to origin/destination addresses within the 3/4 mile ADA This transportation may be requested when scheduling the appointment with the Eligibility Team.
If the applicant will be unable to make the appointment, please cancel prior to 4pm the day before. This allows other applicants the opportunity to use the time slot.
Applicants that no show or cancel after 4pm the day before an in-person eligibility review appointment will have a no show applied to their record (as defined in this guide), should the person be deemed eligible for any level of MetroAccess service. Applicants who do not become eligible for MetroAccess service will not be penalized for a no-show or a late cancel.
Applicants who cancel or no-show their free eligibility evaluation trip after the second scheduled review will not be granted a third free eligibility evaluation trip on MetroAccess, unless it is demonstrated that the no-show resulted from conditions outside the control of the passenger.
Attending the In-person Eligibility Appointment
All applicants for Capital Metro's ADA paratransit service are required to come in to Capital Metro's Eligibility and Mobility Training Center at least once for an in-person eligibility review.
What to bring to the appointment
- Completed Applicant Questionnaire and Professional Verification forms
- Additional documentation the applicant wishes to be considered in the Eligibility determination
- A form of photo identification
- All mobility aids (including service animals) they plan to use on the service
- A list of current medications (if applicable to the disability or medical condition prompting the applicant to apply for service)
- A statement of visual acuity (a measurement of visual function) for applicants with a visual impairment
- Eligibility appointments may take up to two (2) hours to complete. Applicants are encouraged to plan accordingly by bringing medications, water, snacks or anything else that may be needed for this length of time away from the home.
What happens at the appointment?
- The applicant will check in at the reception desk.
- An eligibility team member will meet the applicant in the waiting area and escort them to an interview suite.
- The eligibility team member will take a photo of the applicant for the client record. This photo will be used on the customer's MetroAccess ID card if they are approved for services.
- The eligibility team member will provide the applicant an overview of Capital Metro services.
- The eligibility team member will review the completed Application Packet and any additional documentation the applicant has brought for consideration. The team member will then conduct a brief interview, asking questions related to the customer's disabilities or medical conditions and how they limit or prevent the applicant from using fixed route service.
- If necessary, the applicant will be escorted to the functional assessment area where an independent assessor will review the customer's ability to complete transit-specific tasks such as boarding, de-boarding, and navigating fixed route services.
If further information is required, MetroAccess staff may contact the professional(s) that are currently treating the applicant.
The Eligibility Determination
The applicant will be notified of the eligibility decision in writing within 21 calendar days of the Eligibility Review or upon receipt of all necessary documentation. If the eligibility process has been completed and notification is not received within 21 calendar days, the applicant will receive “presumptive eligibility” on the 22nd day, which will be in effect until the applicant is given the eligibility determination from Capital Metro.
To check on the status of an application, please contact the MetroAccess Eligibility Department at 512-389-7501.
If the application for service is approved, the customer will receive a welcome packet through mail. It will include:
- A MetroAccess photo ID card
- A MetroAccess Rider Guide
- Information on the Reduced Fare program for riding other Capital Metro services
- Information about the date range of service eligibility
- An explanation about the type of eligibility for which the applicant qualifies (Unconditional, Conditional, Transitional). See the Types of Eligibility portion of this guide for further details.
- An explanation of the service level for which the applicant has been approved (Hand-to-hand, Door-to-door, Curb-to-curb). See the Designated Service Levels portion of this guide for further details.
- Information concerning free travel training services to all passengers
- Any other additional information requested by the applicant during the eligibility review and orientation process
If an application for service is denied, Capital Metro will send a letter to the applicant within 21 calendar days that lists the specific reason(s) for the denial. The letter will tell the applicant how to proceed if he or she wishes to appeal the decision or to clarify any information that might have caused an erroneous denial.
The Eligibility Appeals Process
An appeals process is available for any applicant who would like to dispute an eligibility determination.
Appeals will be held at an accessible Capital Metro facility or a passenger may request an accommodation to conduct the hearing over the phone.
The applicant is strongly encouraged to bring forth additional information for consideration if any is available. This will be the last opportunity for the applicant to provide additional information before the final decision is made.
Requesting an Appeal
An applicant may file an appeal of an eligibility determination within 60 calendar days from the date of a denial or eligibility status change by contacting the Eligibility Department. This may be done by:
Capital Metro Accessible Services
2910 E. 5th St.
Austin, TX 78702
All passengers appealing their eligibility determination who have NOT completed a full functional assessment during their initial interview will be required to complete a full functional assessment before the appeal hearing.
New passengers applying for paratransit service will not receive services during the appeals process.
Recertifying passengers will continue with the eligibility type (Unconditional, Conditional with any applicable conditions, Transitional) they were receiving before recertification, until such time as the appeal appointment occurs and the appeals panel renders its decision. If the appeal appointment is no showed or rescheduled by the customer, access to the level of service received before recertification will only be valid for 60 calendar days from the original appeal request. After that time, if the new appeal appointment has not been scheduled or has not occurred, the most recent eligibility determination will be used.
Who Will Be Present at the Eligibility Appeal
The Appeal Decision
- The applicant himself/herself
- The applicant's advocate (optional) to assist the assist in the process.
- The Appeals Panel comprised of persons not involved in any part of the original eligibility decision
- An Eligibility Department staff member and functional assessor whose role is to provide information at the appeal but NOT to vote on the final appeal determination
- An observer to the process is allowed if the applicant is in agreement
The appellant will retain his or her previous level of service (where applicable) while awaiting the appeal panel's decision.
The final decision will be provided to the appellant within 30 calendar days after the completion of the appeals process. The decision will be available to the applicant in an accessible format as needed.
Should the appeal decision not be provided within 30 days of the completion of the appeal process, Capital Metro will continue to provide the previous level of paratransit service to the recertification applicant and new applicants will receive unconditional presumptive eligibility. Presumptive or continuing eligibility will remain in place until Capital Metro has notified the applicant of the final appeal decision.
The formal appeal hearing is the last step in the process and the appeal decision is therefore final.