Dear Members of the Public Service & Transportation & Committee:
The purpose of this email is to inform you about the need for wheelchair accessible on-demand public transportation in Worcester and to update you on our activities to address this.
We are working to gain support from community leaders and spread awareness about accessible on-demand public transportation initiative we feel would improve the quality of life for Worcester residents with disabilities and create more transportation options/equitable transportation
In 2019, Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) provided over 1 million trips in Worcester, currently, there are zero wheelchair accessible TNC vehicles.  Worcester currently has 110 licensed taxis, with only one wheelchair accessible vehicle. The WRTA paratransit service is reliable but it has limitations, in order to qualify for paratransit service, you must live within ¾ of a mile of a bus route, this excludes many riders in the surrounding towns. riders cannot schedule same-day rides, additionally, pre-COVID, the ride-sharing model equated to strict pickup and drop off times and long trips.
Over the past year, we have been working with the Transportation Advisory Coalition and WRTA’s TPAG (Transportation Planning Advisory Group) exploring on-demand transportation services.  We have looked at communities across the country including Boston who have developed on-demand paratransit programs.  The MBTA paratransit program, The Ride, currently runs an on-demand pilot program in partnership with Uber Lyft and Curb.
This pilot program has saved the MBTA 3% in paratransit program costs and is known to be one of the best programs of this type nationally.
We strongly feel the second largest city in New England should have more transportation options and Worcester’s disability community deserves equitable, accessible, on-demand transportation
We are advocating for WRTA paratransit to develop a program similar to the MBTA Pilot.  We know transportation programs are not a one size fits all, so our goal is to work with the city and WRTA to develop an accessible on-demand program that suits our needs.
Please let us know if you have any questions or suggestions for us.  We would be happy to attend one of your meetings or to invite you to attend one of ours.
Thank you for your time.
Robert Billota, Alternative Finance Program Developer, Easter Seals
Joe Bellil, Vice President, Easter Seals