A key provider of Metros service for riders with disabilities is pulling out of the transit agency next month.
Battles Transportation will stop providing MetroAccess trips for the agency as of Feb. 10, primarily for economic reasons, according to Metro spokesman Dan Stessel.
The company has been running vans for the service out of the District since 2000, as one of several subcontractors under the California-based contractor MV Transportation. The company will continue to provide transportation for the Department of Veterans Affairs and others, including private groups, according to the company.
It was a difficult decision to make, but we look forward to returning as a provider to serve our friends and our community, said President and CEO McKinley Battle.
Metro and MetroAccess officials say the change wont disrupt its paratransit service for riders who rely on MetroAccess to get to doctors appointments and go grocery shopping. They promise a seamless transition for riders.
Metro owns the vehicles that Battles has been using and they will remain in use at the agency, said MV Transportation spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.
All drivers will be offered positions if they meet background and hiring requirements. We anticipate and hope the vast majority will stay with the system, she said. Battles was the primary provider of MetroAccess trips in the District, providing as many as 900 trips a day at one point, said the companys chief operating officer, Tina Clarkson.
Metro is federally mandated under the Americans with Disabilities Act to provide the transit service for people physically unable to take Metrobus or Metrorail.
MetroAccess has been undergoing changes at the agency after years of double-digit ridership growth that sent costs spiraling. Metro has tightened the requirements for riders to be eligible, while narrowing the service area in which they can travel and raising fares in the past two years.
The agency is also preparing to seek a new contract for 2013. Officials have said they are considering breaking up the contract into multiple components for smaller companies to bid upon.
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