SAN FRANCISCO, September 24, 2019 — TRE Legal Practice is pleased to announce a Settlement Agreement with the Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) that will make regional transit more accessible to disabled riders.
The Agreement is the result of collaborative structured negotiations between TRE Legal Practice and MTC, the transportation planning, financing, and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. TRE Legal Practice represented a blind transit rider who was frustrated by barriers she had experienced in trying to use the Regional Transit Connection (RTC) Card — a version of the Clipper card created for non-senior transit riders with qualifying disabilities.
In the past, transit riders who qualified for an RTC Card found obtaining, renewing, and loading funds onto their RTC Cards needlessly challenging.
For example, blind riders required assistance to fill out the online PDF application and renewal forms and to use the ClipperCard.com website because the PDF forms and the website were not coded to work with standard screen reading technology that would otherwise allow those riders to independently apply for, fund, and renew their RTC cards.
Blind riders faced additional challenges when their RTC card arrived in the mail: the instructions accompanying RTC cards were only provided in print that was unreadable by most blind riders, and they differed significantly from the instructions posted for other Clipper card users on the ClipperCard.com website.
Finally, the RTC cards expired after several years, even for riders with disabilities determined to be permanent during the RTC card application process. As a result, riders with permanent disabilities, such as permanent blindness, were required to periodically renew their RTC cards, using the same inaccessible process involved in applying for an initial RTC card. While riders received notice that their card was expiring and required renewal, that notice also came exclusively by printed mail that was unreadable by most blind riders. In contrast, riders over the age of 65, regardless of disability, qualify for a Senior Clipper card that never needs renewal but provides nearly the same benefits as the RTC card.
Under the Agreement, MTC agreed to make all PDF forms related to RTC cards accessible with screen reading technology. These new forms are available now through all official online sources, including 511.org.
By the end of 2019, MTC will also provide RTC applicants and cardholders a choice of accessible formats to receive RTC program related communications, such as braille, large print, and email. MTC has engaged an accessibility expert, and will make the ClipperCard.com website accessible with screen reading technology by March 1, 2020.
Finally, riders with permanent disabilities who apply for or renew their RTC cards on or after January 1, 2020 will be issued RTC cards that do not expire until the cardholder qualifies for a Senior Clipper card at age 65, effectively ending the RTC renewal requirement for persons with permanent disabilities.
TRE Legal Practice applauds the MTC for working with us to help bring its vision of a “stronger transportation system that works for everyone, promotes economic vitality and protects our environment,” to even more riders in the Bay Area.