In 2013, the ATUQ’s public transportation organizations made over 5.6 million paratransit trips and between 2010 and 2013, the demand for this service reached 20%, which represents a rather significant increase.
Why is the demand for paratransit services increasing so rapidly?
One of the main factors contributing to the rapid increase in the demand for paratransit services is the aging of the population, even if senior citizens are not the sole users of this service. The streamlining of health services is also a decisive factor. In order to be able to participate in the labour market, to manage an active lifestyle, to visit family members, to go shopping or to receive basic health care services, many people rely on this essential service to get around.
The issues surrounding the funding of paratransit services
The significant growth in the demand for paratransit services will certainly continue over the next few years. As a result, the funding of these services is rapidly becoming a key issue.
The Quebec government has contributed financially to paratransit services and continues to do so. However, fewer funds are being allotted than in the past, while there are more people whose request for admission has been accepted. The marked increase in the number of users and the consumer price index are contributing factors to the rapid increase in the cost of this essential service. In order to keep pace with the demand, the transportation organizations must be adequately funded.
How are paratransit services provided and who is eligible?
The nine public transportation organizations provide paratransit services, either by minibus or taxi, using conventional or specially adapted vehicles. The public transportation organizations have the legal obligation to provide this essential service to disabled people. The board of directors of each public transportation organization also includes a person who makes use of services adapted to the needs of disabled people. Anyone wishing to use these services must meet specific criteria, in accordance with the Paratransit Eligibility Policy.
The ATUQ’s paratransit committee
Above all, this sector committee provides a forum for the exchange of information on best practices. Committee members work closely with government partners and make recommendations, especially with regard to strategic issues. They are also called upon to examine different operational problems and to identify potential solutions, in order to provide ongoing service improvement in this field of activity.