County to Study Transit Options for Elderly, Disabled

County supervisors have launched a study of the unmet transportation needs for elderly and disabled people in the county.

Currently, Loudoun County provides transportation to bus stops within three-quarters of a mile of any fixed bus route in Loudoun, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The county also supports on-demand paratransit services provided by Virginia Regional Transit outside of those areas. The Area Agency on Aging provides bus service to and from the senior centers in the county.

According to a report prepared by the office Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large), over the past year the county has turned down on average 27 requests for transit a month, either because a vehicle was not available or the request was outside normal operating hours.

“I have been concerned for a long time that our transit services haven’t been robust enough for the elderly and the disabled in our county,” Randall said.

Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) said that work and the work to prepare for the county’s ADA requirements around its future Metro stops “shouldn’t be siloed, happening separately.” He also had a caution for supervisors:

“I feel like I have to say it as the finance chairman, that this stuff gets real expensive really fast, and even the most successful bus services with dense populations lose lots of money and require a great deal of subsidies,” Letourneau said.

The county has had to rethink how it finances transit after dedicating the local gas tax, which helped underwrite Loudoun County Transit bus service, to Metrorail.

Some supervisors have also asked about looking into subsidizing rides through Uber or Lyft as a low-cost paratransit alternative.

The first step will be for county staff members to direct a framework for the study and estimate its costs. That is expected back before the Board of Supervisors in June.

Supervisors approved that work 9-0.

rgreene@loudounnow.com

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