Who is Eligible for ADA SHUTTLE Service?

Who is eligible for Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) SHUTTLE service?
Under the ADA transit providers have the responsibility to make their services, programs and facilities accessible. The expectation of the ADA is that most transportation services provided for individuals with disabilities will be provided by regularly accessible transit service (bus). ADA SHUTTLE (paratransit) service is defined as a "safety net" for those individuals with conditions that prevent regular system use, not just make more it difficult. Specific ADA eligibility guidelines define eligibility as appropriate for individuals with disabilities that include one or more of the following;

  • Inability to board, ride or disembark (including system navigation) from any regularly accessible vehicle, even with the assistance of the lift and other commonly available help, or
  • Inability to travel on a route at the time of needed travel because the system lacks required accommodations, or
  • The individual has a condition (physical or cognitive disability) which prevents her/him from getting to or from bus boarding locations when traveling within an area served by bus. 

The following issues do not automatically make you eligible for SHUTTLE service:

  • Personal convenience, such as the bus system does not meet your personal schedule, takes too long, or does not serve destinations you travel to.
  • Lack of familiarity or experience using the bus system.
  • Having a disability, even when certified by SSI, SSA, or the VA.
  • Having dialysis treatment.
  • There is no automatic eligibility for seniors.
  • The fact that using the bus system may be more difficult or less comfortable.
  • Fear of crime.
  • Illiteracy or inability to understand directions due to limited English comprehension. 

What is the eligibility process?

  • You must submit an application.
  • The Eligibility department may fax questions to the applicant's treatment provider to further clarify the functional capabilities (the application includes a release of information) and/or-
  • The applicant may be required to come in person for a functional assessment. 
  • Assessments can be physical or cognitive, or both, depending upon the application.
  • Once the decision is made a decision letter is mailed to the applicant.
  • For individuals found not eligible, temporarily eligible, or conditionally eligible (3B), they have 60 days to request an appeal.

What is the functional assessment process?

  • Pierce Transit has physical/occupational therapists under contract who conduct assessments of a person's ability to walk or travel in the community.
  • For people with cognitive conditions contractors conduct standardized testing based on the type of condition that is being assessed.
  • The Community Assessment of Travel Skills involves taking a bus trip accompanied by an evaluator.
  • Pierce Transit has functional testing for individuals who require power mobility devices to assess the applicant's ability to board and deboard the bus and travel with their device.
  • An applicant may be required to take part in an assessment as part of the initial eligibility process or as a step in resolving an appeal.

There is no cost to the applicant for the assessments and Pierce Transit provides free transportation to the appointment as requested. When required; functional assessment(s) must be completed. Failure to do so will result in an incomplete eligibility process.

How much time will this application take?

  • Once Pierce Transit has a completed application with all the needed information, and required assessments have been completed, we will make a decision within 21 days.  
  • If the decision making process takes more than 21 days once all of the required information is received, the applicant will receive presumptive eligibility until the decision is made.

What are the types of eligibility? 

ADA guidelines have specified three types of eligibility:

  • Full eligibility, for individuals that have disabilities which prevent bus use under any circumstances.
  • Conditional eligibility, for people with disabilities which prevent bus use or access in some circumstances, but are capable of bus use and/or access in other circumstances.
  • Temporary eligibility, for people with conditions expected to change, given a time period for treatment, rehabilitation, recovery, or pending new mobility aids. . 

Can't my doctor just send a note to tell you I need service? 

There is nothing that keeps a person from providing extra information along with the application, but according to the ADA, SHUTTLE eligibility is not a physician's decision. There is no assurance that unsolicited information will speak to our specific questions about the applicant's functional ability to use the system. If Pierce Transit requires more information we seek that information from applicant treatment sources and/or the applicant will need to complete a functional assessment.

What if I don't like my eligibility decision? 

  • Any individual who is found not eligible, conditionally eligible (3B), or temporarily eligible may appeal the decision.
  • There is a 60 day window for appeal; starting on the date of the decision letter.
  • The appeal process is an informal hearing (brief interview) where the applicant has the ability to present information in person and receive an unbiased review and new decision from decision makers that had nothing to do with the original decision.
  • 2. Once the appeal process is complete, the panel will decide within 30 days or paratransit service will be granted until the final decision is made.
  • The appeal is decided by a panel, including medical professional(s), rehabilitation professional(s) and a Pierce Transit employee.
  • You may bring someone with you to help explain your situation.
  • If your appeal is based on new limitations not identified in the original application you will be advised to submit a new application that thoroughly identifies your limiting conditions.
  • The applicant may only appeal each application once.

Recertification- why? I have a permanent disability, why should I have to reapply?

In 2004 SHUTTLE had 14,000 registered customers and only 4,000 (approximately) had used the service within a two year time frame.  Pierce Transit established a three year recertification cycle in 2006. This policy allows Pierce Transit to: 

  • Maintain an accurate count of eligible individuals to aid in service planning and budgeting.
  • Archive records when an individual is no longer a customer.
  • Reassess whether conditions that established eligibility have changed necessitating a change in eligibility.

I have a permanent condition. Why would my eligibility change? 

This does not happen very often. A person's condition may have even deteriorated, but if they are now using a power mobility device, instead of a walker, they may be more functional as a traveler and may be more appropriate for conditional eligibility. A better prosthesis may also provide a similar outcome. There continues to be improvement in treatments, medical procedures, and in bus system accommodations that make the system more user friendly for individuals with disabilities.  The system is becoming more capable of serving individuals with a greater variety of needs.

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Trip Planner Help

Trip Planner Tips - Entering Locations

To create a trip plan you need to enter both a starting location (origin) and an ending location (destination). For information about stops, schedules, or service at a specific location, you only need to enter one location.

The Trip Planner recognizes most street intersections and addresses as well as many landmarks in Pierce, King, and Snohomish Counties. If what you entered is not immediately recognized, the Trip Planner will offer you a list of options. You can choose one of the options, but if your intended location is not there, select the "Revise Original Entries" link to return to the entry page and change the entries you have already made.


  • You don't need to type in the city along with the address. The Trip Planner shows the possible city names as options if needed. City names are based on zip codes.
  • You don't need to type in St., Street, Ave., or Avenue, or similar street types. The Trip Planner shows the possible alternatives as options if needed. (Example: type 110 Jones instead of 110 Jones Boulevard.)
  • You don't need to type in the directional designations for streets, but if a direction name is part of a street name, you should include it. (Example: type 1000 Main instead of 1000 S Main. But type 1000 West Viewmont for 1000 West Viewmont Way W.)
  • Some streets and addresses are unknown to the Trip Planner. You may need to enter another nearby location, such as an intersection or a landmark.
  • You should not enter the suite number or apartment number.  Just the house number and street name (Example: type in 401 Broadway instead of 401 Broadway Avenue Suite 800).


  • The "&" symbol is the only character used between two street names to show an intersection. (Examples: 1st & B, James & Madison)
  • You don't need to type in the city. The Trip Planner shows the possible city names as options if needed. City names are based on zip codes.
  • You don't need to type in St., Street, Ave., or Avenue, or similar street types. The Trip Planner shows the possible alternatives as options if needed. (Example: type Conifer & Jones instead of Conifer Circle & Jones Boulevard.)
  • You don't need to type in the directional designations for streets, but if a direction name is part of a street name, you should include it. (Example: type 3rd & Main instead of 3rd S & S Main. But type 34th & West Viewmont for 34th W & West Viewmont Way W.)
  • Some streets are unknown to the Trip Planner. You may need to enter another nearby intersection or a landmark.


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Major Commercial Sites: Tacoma Mall, Sheraton Hotel

Transportation Facilities: Sea-Tac Airport, Greyhound Bus Depot

Schools & Colleges: Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma Community College

Sports & Leisure: Cheney Stadium, Pt Defiance Zoo

Medical Facilities: Group Health, Tacoma General Hospital


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