Sunday, January 6, 2013

Disabled Persons Will Need to be Recertified for the RIDE under New MBTA Rules

Res Publica
Disabled Persons Will Need to be Recertified for the RIDE under New MBTA Rules
by David Trumbull -- January 4, 2012

According to the FAQs (frequently asked questions) posted on the website of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, disabled persons using the MBTA's RIDE service will need to be recertified under new procedures. All existing RIDE customs will be notified and recertified within three years. Certification will be done via an in-person assessment conducted by trained mobility coordinators.

Here are some things that disabled RIDE customers should be aware of --

  • A diagnosis of disability from your physicians will not be enough to get you certified. According to the MBTA, many medical practitioners are ill-equipped to make a determination that is based on functional ability to use the MBTA fixed route transit system. In addition, MBTA says it cannot rely on an applicant′s doctor to always be fully objective in making this determination, given that they may well be motivated to secure as many services for their patient as possible.
  • The MBTA estimates the 95-99% of current RIDE customer who apply under the new system will be found conditionally or fully eligible for THE RIDE.
  • However, they also estimate that a significant percent (perhaps 15-25%) of current RIDE customers will choose not to apply for certification under the new system. If 15 to 25 of current RIDE customers drop off, as expected, because they don't want to go through the new certification procedure, this represents a significant cost savings to the MTBA.
  • While the MBTA recognizes that there are many different certification processes that people with disabilities complete already in order to receive benefits or services, the MBTA maintains that those certifications do not specifically pertain to the individual's ability to ride transit.

We all, I am sure, want to see THE RIDE and other services for the disabled go to those truly in need of such services, and the MBTA appears to have done a thorough job of identifying weaknesses in the current certification that may have let some questionable cases slip through. However, I suspect I am not the only one concerned that this new requirement for an in-person interview with an MTBA mobility coordinator, may intimidate some truly needed disabled persons and may discourage them from seeking recertification for the vital RIDE service. I am pleased to see that you may bring a family member, companion, or translator to the interview. I hope that the senior and disability advocates in the area will actively reach out to RIDE customers and help them understand their rights so they can go through this recertification as smoothly as possible. No one should be denied needed service just to save money for the MBTA or because they are intimidated by the recertification process.

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