HRT to use support from taxis for paratransit services

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Hampton Roads Transit will get the help of taxis for its paratransit services.

Officials say they’ve seen an increase in demand for the services, which are provided to disabled passengers who can not use regular HRT buses.

“It feels good to be able to provide the services, but not so good when we struggle to provide the service. We like to provide all the services to everybody but with the limitations we have, we just can’t everyday,” said Keith Johnon, the project manager for paratransit.

Johnson says they’re strained, even though they have 109 vehicles. He says it’s possible to reach up to 1,400 trips in one day.

Ridership for paratransit has grown. Johnson says 2,300 use it monthly with 323,000 using it annually. He believes the aging population is contributing.

“Pretty much what they call the graying of America — people are living long, but maybe they can’t drive anymore, family can’t get them around. The service is there. That’s what it’s there for. It’s mass transit and if they can’t ride a regular bus, we will provide the other service to get them to where they need to go,” he said.

Johnson says four taxi companies will assist and will be crucial during peak hours.

Fare for paratransit still costs $3.50 one way and riders must qualify for the service by having a disability confirmed by a professional. Riders must also live within three quarters of a mile of a bus stop.

Johnson says a trip costs taxpayers between $30 to $40.

HRT is excited that they’ll be able to continue to provide assistance to those most in need.

“We’re looking forward to have additional help for those peak days,” he said.

If you have any questions about HRT’s paratransit services, call the agency’s customer service line at 757-222-6100, or click here for more information.