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Governor Deval Patrick today signed an executive order establishing a Commission to examine paratransit services provided by the MBTA’s RIDE program, the Regional Transit Authorities and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

Massachusetts is a national leader in providing services to veterans, seniors and people with disabilities to ensure they have the services and supports they need to live independent lives. This Commission will help ensure that residents in those communities who need reliable and affordable transit services can access them. The Commission will also examine paratransit programs to align the needs for these services with current levels of service and existing delivery methods; and assess whether those levels of service and delivery methods properly match federal and state requirements.

The Commission will include representatives from the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services; members with a background in veterans’ services, civil rights, paratransit service delivery and operations; and paratransit services customers.

Commission recommendations are expected in late October.

THE RIDE provides door-to-door paratransit service to 60 cities and towns in and around Boston, in lift equipped vans and sedans for ADA eligible customers who cannot use subways, buses, or trains due to a physical, mental, or cognitive disability.

The Human Service Transportation Office contracts with select RTAs to provide a coordinated, statewide system of transportation services for eligible agency consumers. The Office was established in 2001 as a result of a collaborative initiative to coordinate independent transportation procurements for the Department of Developmental Services, Department of Public Health and MassHealth and since January 2011 includes brokered transportation for the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.

Regional Transit Authorities, in cooperation with local Councils on Aging, provide two levels of paratransit services – one level of service which is mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the other for individuals who have difficulty accessing bus or other transit due to age or minor disabilities.

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