Ride DuPage is a transportation service that operates 7 days per week, 24-hours per day. Organizations such as municipalities, townships, social service organizations, and employers can participate by subsidizing transportation for their clients or constituents.
Ride DuPage is a program developed by the Inter Agency Paratransit Coordinating Council (IAPCC). The IAPCC is an organization made up of government entities, human service organizations, and consumers. The IAPCC designated DuPage County as the lead agency on the project. The County has contracted with Pace Suburban Bus to manage the day-to-day operations of Ride DuPage.
Sponsoring agencies determine the eligibility for their riders. For example, a municipality may wish to establish eligibility based on age or disability, while a social service organization may establish eligibility based on income.
The cost to the sponsoring agency is based upon the amount of service used by its clients and the level of subsidy the sponsor chooses to provide. The IAPCC, DuPage County, and Pace staff can work with interested sponsors to develop demand estimates and evaluate the budget impacts of subsidy options.
Registration is handled by the sponsoring agencies. Pace provides sponsors with a standardized registration form. When sponsors determine an individual to be eligible for the service, the completed registration form is forwarded to Pace so that the individual can begin using the service.
Registered riders call the Ride DuPage Call Center to schedule a trip. The scheduler will take the information from the rider, then using a map-based software program, determine the most efficient way to provide the trip. Wherever possible, riders will be placed on vehicles with other passengers in order to increase the productivity of the service.
All of the Pace mini-buses used in Ride DuPage are lift equipped. As part of the registration process, individuals indicate if they utilize any type of mobility aid. If an individual is unable to ride in a standard sedan, their client file is notated so that the computerized scheduling system will only place their trip on a lift-equipped vehicle.
The fare paid by the rider is determined by the policy of the sponsoring agency. Most current Ride DuPage sponsors charge their riders a distance-based fare, meaning the greater the distance the rider travels, the higher the fare they pay.
Because they are under contract with Pace, taxi companies that participate in Ride DuPage are considered public transit carriers while performing Ride DuPage service. Therefore, they do not need to be licensed by individual communities to perform Ride DuPage trips. Pace requires that all taxi vehicles used in Ride DuPage service undergo regular safety inspections and preventative maintenance. If taxi carriers are also performing standard taxi service in addition to their Ride DuPage service then the licensing standards of individual municipalities still apply.
Taxi and bus drivers that operate Ride DuPage service are subject to qualifications established by Pace Suburban Bus. Those include criminal background checks, US DOT physicals, drug and alcohol testing, and driving record checks.
Pace Suburban Bus has staff specifically dedicated to the resolution of Ride DuPage complaints. While some riders may call their sponsor to register a complaint, they should always be instructed to contact Pace directly.
Sponsors receive monthly reports from Pace that provide complete detail on every trip charged to that sponsor. The date, time, rider name, pick-up and drop-off locations are all reported. Other reports include information on on-time performance, missed trips, and rider no-shows. In addition to trip information, sponsors receive a monthly invoice outlining the cost of service.
Pace Dial-a-Ride services can be converted into the Ride DuPage program. Typically, that will mean a significant improvement for riders in the days and hours that service is available to them. The subsidy that Pace provides for local dial-a-rides can also be carried over in to the Ride DuPage program.
When a new sponsor decides to participate in Ride DuPage, demand estimates will be developed based upon the experience of existing Ride DuPage sponsors in order to assist the new sponsor in budgeting for the service. However there is always the possibility that demand will exceed expectations. In those cases, DuPage County, Pace, and the sponsor will need to work together to make appropriate changes to the service (most likely a change in fare) to bring it back within budget.
State and federal funds for the operation of transportation services are extremely limited. Ride DuPage sponsors should anticipate that they will need to pay for Ride DuPage service from their own resources.
Organizations that are interested in becoming sponsors should contact DuPage County Community Services. The County, Pace, and the IAPCC will work with the new sponsor to develop eligibility criteria, fare structure, budget forecasts, and a timeline for implementation. The organization will need to enter in to a sponsor agreement with the County that outlines each organization’s responsibilities. Pace will provide marketing materials that can be easily customized by the sponsor to help promote the service. The Consumer Advisory Committee of the IAPCC is available to help educate consumers about the new service.