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EXPANDED, HIGH-TECH SEPTA PARATRANSIT INTRODUCED; WILL RUN SHARED RIDE PROGRAM STARTING NOV. 8

 EXPANDED, HIGH-TECH SEPTA PARATRANSIT INTRODUCED;
 WILL RUN SHARED RIDE PROGRAM STARTING NOV. 8
 PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- SEPTA today put on display its new, greatly expanded, computerized ParaTRANSIT headquarters which will manage advance reservation, door-to-door transportation not only for disabled riders but also, effective Nov. 8, for the tens of thousands of senior citizens registered for the Pennsylvania State Lottery-funded Shared Ride Program, SEPTA said.
 ParaTRANSIT, managed by the SEPTA Special Services Department with 11 years of experience in serving the disabled community, is now located on the 5th floor of 714 Market St. It has nearly tripled in size in order to meet the needs of the Shared Ride Program in Philadelphia with its 61,500 registered patrons, age 65 and older, and about 8,000 regular riders. The new offices contain three basic units: Reservations, Scheduling and Service Monitoring. SEPTA Special Services has established a modern, state-of-the-art telephone reservation system and control center to monitor service. In addition, extra staff has been hired and trained to handle calls, and four vehicles have been obtained to help supervise on-street operations.
 For the senior citizens who use the Shared Ride Program, SEPTA ParaTRANSIT has two important phone numbers: 580-7700 for grip reservations and advance cancellations, and 580-7720 for same-day cancellations and to report service problems. For information and registration, seniors should call 580-7145.
 SEPTA will offer a number of service improvements for the senior riders of the Shared Ride Program. ParaTRANSIT's hours of operation, hours for taking reservations, and operating area have been expanded. Service hours for Shared Ride are every day of the week from 6 a.m. until midnight. Reservations are taken seven days a week, including holidays, between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. and between 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Also, seniors will receive immediate confirmation of their trip requests and will have to be ready only 15 minutes early instead of the 45 minutes required by the present operators.
 The service area includes anywhere within the City of Philadelphia, plus 40 locations outside the City. The suburban locations include the 34 medical facilities currently served by Shared Ride, and also Bala Plaza, Cheltenham Square Mall, Neshaminy Mall, and the 69th Street Terminal/Upper Darby Shopping District.
 Shared Ride Fares have been simplified for seniors. Instead of confusing distance-based rates, SEPTA is offering a single fare for individuals of $2.40 for a one-way trip, or $1.95 each for a group reservation for three or more persons.
 SEPTA said that its ParaTRANSIT is now the biggest paratransit operation with centralized reservations and scheduling in the United States. Because of Shared Ride, SEPTA's operation has leaped from a total of 98 vehicles required to more than 278, and from 125 operators to 367. Although quite different in the kind of service provided and the numbers of people carried, ParaTRANSIT will now require as many vehicles and operators as the transit operations of cities the size of Fort Worth, Tampa, Providence and Allentown-Bethlehem. Allentown- Bethlehem has the third largest transit operator in Pennsylvania.
 ParaTRANSIT's operating budget has also more than tripled. The current potential expenditure for the Philadelphia Shared Ride Program, including user fares and State Lottery funds, is about $17.5 million annually. Adding in the $7 million currently spent for service to the disabled, the total SEPTA ParaTRANSIT budget could reach $24.5 million.
 With the projected expansion to accommodate the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), the SEPTA ParaTRANSIT budget is expected to grow to about $35 to $50 million annually within the next five years.
 Also unveiled today was SEPTA's revised paint scheme for Shared Ride vehicles. The vehicles will now carry SEPTA ParaTRANSIT's name and phone number.
 The three existing private carriers contracted by SEPTA -- Access Paratransit, Inc., Triage, Inc., and VPSI Paratransit Services -- will continue to provide on-street service, managed by SEPTA.
 /delval/
 -0- 10/28/92
 /CONTACT: SEPTA Press Relations, 215-580-7842/ CO: SEPTA ST: Pennsylvania IN: TRN SU:


MK -- PH038 -- 6115 10/28/92 14:39 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 28, 1992
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