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RTA Chairman Calls Paratransit "Federally Mandated Limousine Service," Apologizes

By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 24, 2012 10:00PM

2011_10_24_RTA.jpg Regional Transportation Authority Chairman John Gates Jr. did a dance of contrition at today's board meeting after comments he made to the Daily Herald editorial board comparing paratransit service to a "federally mandated limousine service" led to a steady stream of complaints from disabled transit riders who rely on the service.

On Oct. 4, Gates said paratransit service was “a limousine service, but it’s a federally mandated limousine service that we have to provide. It’s hugely expensive, but it’s something we have to do. It’s the law. It’s a civil right.” RTA allots $140 million per year to over 50,000 certified users of paratransit service. At today's board meeting, Gates said his comments were "off the cuff and thoughtless" and that he was sensitive to the subject of paratransit because his father was blind.