from today's Democrat: Free-ride Saturday leaves some Dial-A-Ride users frustrated By TaMaryn Waters Democrat staff writer Tallahassee Mayor John Marks spent part of Thursday passing out fliers to bus riders at the C.K. Steele Plaza informing them of free rides offered Saturday by StarMetro for holiday shoppers. But Dial-A-Ride users such as Michael Elliott, who is visually impaired, are outraged since they won't be able to take advantage. "If you are trying to increase business to the various shops in Tallahassee by offering free bus service on Saturday, but not to those who use Dial A Ride, what are you telling people with disabilities," Elliott said. "Our money isn't good enough?" Dial-A-Ride operates similarly to a taxi-cab service, but it is provided by StarMetro. It costs $2.50 per trip. StarMetro Executive Director Ron Garrison says his staff was aware Dial-A-Ride users wouldn't be able to get a free ride using the service, but he said his hands are tied. "We are not allowed to make it free because we would not be able to handle the capacity, which would not be in compliance with the (federal) Americans with Disabilities Act," Garrison said. Currently, 8,164 residents are registered for Dial-A-Ride, which is often used as a way to get to medical appointments. However, every registered rider doesn't necessarily use the service daily. StarMetro has offered free rides on special occasions, most recently for a week when the new system was launched during the summer. "Most of our Dial-A-Ride users are used to this. We have gotten a call or two before when we have done this," Garrison said. He also said Dial-A-Ride is required to provide service within three-quarters of a mile of bus service, although it often goes beyond that. If Dial-A-Ride went over capacity in order to provide free rides, Garrison said StarMetro could face consequences that could include fines or loss of federal funding. "I'm not going to take the chance," Garrison said. Check out the TABI resource web page at http://acorange.home.comcast.net/TABI and please make suggestions for new material. if you'd like to unsubscribe you can do so through the freelists.org web interface, or by sending an email to the address tabi-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject.