The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) has unveiled a new indoor public transit simulator facility to be used to determine eligibility for OCTA’s ACCESS paratransit service. It incorporates a 40-foot OCTA bus, sidewalks, wheelchair-accessible curbs, a crosswalk, and operating traffic signals to fully replicate a bus stop.
“This facility mirrors OCTA’s commitment to ensuring public transit is accessible to all those who depend upon us for their mobility and independence,” said OCTA Chief Executive Officer Will Kempton. “The simulator creates a real-life experience, helping to provide a more accurate and efficient passenger evaluation, which in turn will improve our customers’ experience and reduce costs.”
Previously, OCTA evaluators took passengers outdoors to test their ability to navigate uneven surfaces and curbs, but did not take them on board a bus. The facility will allow testing of a customer’s ability to navigate a variety of different surfaces, board a bus, and pay the fare, all within a controlled environment.
C.A.R.E. Evaluators, which provides services to determine customers’ eligibility for using ACCESS, constructed the $52,000 facility as part of its contract with OCTA.
OCTA explained that subsidizing ACCESS service costs $50.17 per ride, versus $3.76 for fixed route buses. Standardizing the evaluation process helps to accurately determine if a customer can use the fixed-route service for some trips. ACCESS service currently transports 58,000 eligible riders, with approximately 500 people certified or re-certified to use the service each month.