Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
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Samantha Hayes reporting Many who rely on UTA for their independence are adjusting to a change.
In the last year, all regular UTA buses have been equipped for people with disabilities, limiting the number of people who need special door to door service.
UTA says for about a year, all their regular buses have been equipped to handle riders with disabilities. They say that's eased the burden on their special curb to curb service...and their pocketbook.
Santiago Sandival is pretty independant for someone paralyzed from the waist down. The 26 year old is a student at Weber State, he has his own apartment, and works in a sports store here at Layton Hills Mall.
SANTIAGO SANDIVAL:"SOME OF THE STOPS ITS REALLY HARD TO DO."
For nearly 7 years a local paratransit service under UTA took him door to door.
But since a February evaluation, Santiago must use a combination of Paratransit and regular bus service.
Santiago Sandival, Disabled Passenger: "THEY HAVE DETERMINED FROM THE EVALUATION THAT WE DID THAT I CAN CROSS STREETS AND GO UP CURBS."
SAMANTHA HAYES:"THIS IS THE UTA EVALUATION CENTER WHERE PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES ARE TESTED TO FIND OUT IF THEY WILL BE ABLE TO USE A REGULAR BUS."
Cheryl Beveridge, Operations Manager: "PARATRANSIT IS VERY EXPENSIVE, OUR CURRENT DIRECT COST IS 25 DOLLARS A TRIP."
Federal law requires it. State tax dollars pay for it. UTA says the required eligibility test makes sure paratransit service only goes to those who need it.
SANTIAGO SANDIVAL: "I CAN DO IT, BUT WHEN THERE IS ONGOING TRAFFIC AND A LOT OF CARS ALREADY IN THERE, IT MAKES IT REALLY DIFFICULT."
But UTA says its responsiblity ends at the bus stop.
Sherry Repscher, UTA Civil Rights Department: "WE CAN'T REMOVE EVERY BARRIER IN THE COMMUNITY ALTHOUGH WE ARE WORKING WITH A NUMBER OF LOCAL CITIES AND MUNCIPALITIES TO REMOVE CURB CUTS OR MAKE OUR BUS STOPS MORE ACCESIBLE OR FUNCTIONABLE."
UTA says the number of paratransit passengers has decreased in recent years from 7,000 to about 4,000.