About ADA and Non-ADA Paratransit

The Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA) is committed to providing exceptional transportation services that meet or exceed the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. The WRTA provides accessible fixed route bus service. WRTA also provide ADA paratransit service to people with disabilities as required and, non-ADA paratransit service to both seniors and people with disabilities in the 37 communities that comprise the WRTA’s service area.

ADA transportation is for people whose disabilities prevent them from using the regular accessible WRTA fixed route bus for some or all of their trips. The WRTA determines eligibility based on functional considerations and helps determine which individuals can most benefit from ADA paratransit service and which individuals can be best served by the regular accessible WRTA fixed route bus.

Individuals must apply for ADA Complementary Paratransit service and be determined eligible under the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act prior to using the service.

The ADA service area is available within a ¾ mile area surrounding each of the WRTA’s fixed routes.

What does that mean to you? Picture a regular WRTA fixed route bus, and imagine a bubble that stretches to ¾ of a mile in all directions around that bus on the road – within that bubble is the ADA service area. The entire City of Worcester falls within the ADA service area. ADA service is available whenever the regular WRTA fixed route bus is on the road, generally Monday through Sunday, with service hours varying by day of the week and by route. These trips will mirror the fixed route service, taking about the same amount of time that it would take to make the trip on the regular WRTA bus, including waiting times and transferring from bus to bus.

You do not have to live in the ADA service area to access the ADA paratransit services that the WRTA offers. However, you must be picked up or dropped off at an address located within the ADA service area to access the service, and both ends of your trip must also fall within the ADA service area to be considered an ADA trip.

The ADA Paratransit Service program:
  • Operates in compliance with Federal Transit Administration (FTA) regulations
  • Is a shared ride service
  • Is an origin to destination service for ADA eligible customers
  • Provides a service that is comparable in time to the regular fixed route bus including wait times and transfers
  • Operates on the same days of the week and hours of the day in the same areas as the regular WRTA fixed route bus
  • Is for people who cannot use the regular WRTA bus for some or all of their trips
The ADA Paratransit Service program is not:
  • A personal taxi service; you should expect to be traveling with other riders who are going in the same general direction as yourself
  • Available everywhere and at all times

If you’re planning to move to a new address, please contact us first to find out if your new address is located within the ADA service area, so that your paratransit transportation can continue seamlessly.


Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) transportation is for people whose disabilities prevent them from using the regular accessible fixed route bus for some or all of their trips.

Please refer to the following three categories of eligibility:

Category 1 Eligibility

Category 1 Eligibility includes, among others, persons with mental or visual impairments who, as a result, cannot “navigate the system.” This eligibility category includes people who cannot board, ride, or disembark from an accessible vehicle “without the assistance of another individual.”

Category 2 Eligibility

(Not applicable to the WRTA service – all vehicles are accessible)
Category 2 Eligibility applies to persons, who could use accessible fixed route transportation, but accessible transportation is not being used at the time, and on the route, the persons would travel. This concept is route-based, not system-based.

Category 3 Eligibility

Category 3 Eligibility concerns individuals who have a specific impairment-related condition, which prevents them from getting to or from a stop or station. This is intended to be a “very narrow exception” to the general rule that difficulty in traveling to or from boarding or disembarking locations is not a basis for eligibility.

To be a basis for eligibility, the condition must prevent the individual from traveling to a boarding location or from a disembarking location. The word “prevent” is very important. For anyone, going to a bus stop and waiting for a bus is more difficult and less comfortable than waiting for a vehicle at one’s home. This is likely to be all the more true for an individual with a disability. But for many persons with disabilities, in many circumstances, getting to a bus stop is possible. If an impairment-related condition only makes the job of accessing transit more difficult than it might otherwise be, but does not prevent the travel, then the person is not eligible.

All trip reservations can be made as early as 7 days in advance but no later than 4:30 pm the day before the trip by calling 508.752.9283 or 1.877.743.3852 to schedule your ride.

Online Reservation Option is available, click here to learn more about online reservation system or call 508.752.9283 for more information.

When calling to schedule a ride, tell the call taker:

You would like to schedule an ADA trip. You will need to have: the number, street name and town of where you would like to be picked up, as well as the the number, street name and town of where you would like to be dropped off . Please provide the time you want to be there (specify if your trip is an appointment). The Reservationist will also need all of the information for your return trip. Be sure to inform the Reservationist if you will be traveling with a mobility device, such as a wheelchair or walker. Please note that your return trip will not arrive back to your destination less than one hour from your departure time.

A few other things to note:
  • ADA regulations permit the scheduling of your ride up to one hour before or one hour after the trip time you request, without making you late for an appointment.
  • The night before or the morning of your trip, you will receive an automated call with the 20-minute pick-up window for your scheduled trip. You are responsible for waiting in a location where you can see the vehicle arrive during the entire 20-minute pick-up window. Once the vehicle arrives, it will wait five (5) minutes before leaving for the next scheduled pick-up. If you do not receive a phone call the night before your trip is scheduled, you may call to receive your pick-up information or to cancel your trip.
  • If you’re calling before 8:00 A.M or after 4:30 P.M., call the CMTM Dispatch Office at 508.453.3423.
  • If you’re calling between 8:00 A.M. and 4:30 P.M., call the PBSTM Office at 508.752.9283.
  • When boarding the vehicle please verify your destination with the driver. If you require a Personal Care Attendant (PCA) to travel with you, that person is considered a mobility aid and rides for free. You may always take one traveling companion. Additional companions are permitted on a space available basis. PCAs and companions must have the same pick-up address and drop-off address as the ADA rider. Service animals are welcome on all WRTA vehicles.
  • As an ADA rider following service rules, your access to service cannot be limited by patterns of refusals, unusually long trips, late pick-ups, or other such factors
  • Abuse of service rules can result in loss of service
  • Service is provided in lift-equipped vehicles as well as sedan-type vehicles. The WRTA will determine which vehicle will be sent to pick up a rider.

All persons who wish to become WRTA ADA eligible can contact PBTSM at 508.791.9782 option 3 to set up an appointment for the in-house application process. 

PBTSM is located at 60 Foster Street, Worcester, MA 01608. Free round trip transportation is provided for all individuals within the ADA service area when traveling to the PBSTM office to start the in-house application process.

When you arrive, you will be asked to complete an application. Then you’ll have an opportunity to sit with staff to have the service explained to you and to ask questions on a one-on-one basis. You are always welcome to bring someone with you to fill out the application if you would feel more comfortable. Your companion also receives free round trip transportation as long as they are picked up and dropped off at the same location as you.

When you come to your appointment, please be sure to bring the following information with you:

  • Contact Information: Please bring the name, address, and telephone number for the licensed healthcare professional* (HCP) who is most familiar with your disability.
  • If you are applying for service based on a cognitive disability, please identify the licensed HCP who is most familiar with the limitations associated with your cognitive disability; if your disability is emotional, you might identify a Psychologist, Psychiatrist, or Licensed Social Worker who is most familiar with the limitations associated with your emotional disability.
  • HCPs include licensed Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Mobility Instructors, and other licensed Rehabilitation Professionals and Physicians.
  • Emergency Contact Information: Please bring the name and telephone number of someone who the WRTA can contact in case of an emergency.
  • Mobility Device: For your safety, if you will be traveling on the ADA paratransit service with a mobility device (wheelchair, scooter, or other device), you must bring that device to the in-house application process. While you are here, staff will weigh and measure the device with you in it, to be sure it is transportable on WRTA accessible vehicles (Definition of a “Common Wheelchair”).
WRTA ADA Professional Verification Process

Once you have completed the ADA application and have provided the name, address, and telephone number of the licensed healthcare professional (HCP) who is most familiar with your disability, PBSI will mail a separate form to the licensed HCP you have identified. In an effort to keep this process moving along, it is important that you contact the HCP you listed on the application to let him/her know you have applied for ADA service. Ask him/her to complete the form and send it back to the PBSI office as soon as possible.

Forms received with incomplete information from the HCP will not be considered complete until all information is received at our office. Once a fully-completed Professional Verification Form is received by PBSI, a determination of transportation eligibility will be made within 21 days of receipt. If a determination has not been made within 21 days of receipt of the completed Professional Verification Form, then the applicant is made unconditionally eligible until such time that a determination is made.

WRTA ADA Application Approval Process

Once the ADA Application has been completed and the completed Professional Verification Form has been received from the healthcare professional (HCP), the ADA Coordinator will review the information. At that time, a transportation eligibility determination will be made; if more information is required to make a determination as to your ability or inability to use the fixed route bus based on the strict categories of eligibility as outlined by the Federal Transit Administration, the ADA Coordinator will contact the applicant and/or HCP. 

When a transportation eligibility determination is made, a number of outcomes are possible:
  • Individuals may be found to be unconditionally eligible for all of their trips
  • Individuals may receive conditional eligibility based on a temporary circumstance, such as a broken leg or chemotherapy treatments
  • Individuals may be denied service entirely
  • Individuals may be conditionally eligible for service when other conditions (such as weather or terrain) affect their ability to access the regular bus (Check the local weather and temperature in your area
  • Once you are determined as eligible, whether conditionally or unconditionally, you can expect to receive a package in the mail with all of the pertinent information including your eligibility letter. Please review all of the information carefully.
  • You will also receive a Photo Identification card that must be shown to the driver each time you board the WRTA vehicle and that also must be shown upon request by the driver at any time. 
  • Eligibility determinations typically have a five-year expiration date but can also be for a shorter period of time based on the eligibility determination. Customers who have been denied service will receive a letter and information on how to appeal the decision.

Currently, all rides are Fare-Free through June 30, 2024.

The suspended fare policy is as follows:

ADA fares are as follows for each one way trip:
$2.75 In town
$3.00 One town away
$3.25 Two towns away
$3.50 Three or more towns away

All ADA paratransit riders must maintain a positive balance of funds in their fare account in order to book a trip. Fares for riders and companions are deducted from the fare account. Fare can not be paid to the driver.

Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) ride for free.

You may always take one traveling companion, and additional companions are permitted on a space available basis. Companions pay the same fare as the person they are accompanying. PCAs and companions must have the same pick-up address and drop-off address as the ADA rider.

Access your Automated Fare Account

All ADA paratransit riders in Auburn, Boylston, Leicester, Northborough, Oxford, Westborough and West Boylston use the Automated Fare Collection System.

You may access the Automated Fare Collection system by visiting: fare.wrtaparatransit.com/

There are several ways to put funds in your account, including credit/debit cards, pre-paid credit cards. Alternatively, checks and money orders can be mailed and made payable to Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA), 60 Foster St., Worcester, MA 01608.

Cash and all other forms of payment will be accepted at WRTA HUB Customer Service window. 

60 Foster Street
Worcester, MA  01608
Monday – Friday 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Saturday – 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM

Please note a minimum of $10 will be required for all transactions. The maximum alotted transaction is $500.

How do I know how much money is in my account?

Account balance information will be accessible via the on-line portal. You may also call the PBSTM office and ask a reservationist to check your balance. Balance information will be provided during trip reservation.

Can I link my paratransit account to my credit or debit card?

Yes. Auto-replenish is also available and is the recommended way to add funds to your account.

When will I see the funds withdrawn from my account?

Your fare will be deducted from your account the night of your trip. You will not be charged for canceled trips, missed trips, or “no-showed” trips. For more information on cancelled, missed trips or no shows visit our Paratransit website.

According to Section 37.125 of the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), an entity may require recertification of the eligibility of ADA paratransit eligible individuals at reasonable intervals.

In February of 2003, the WRTA, with input from the Transportation Planning Advisory Group (TPAG), a group of elderly and disabled individuals who act as an Advisory Committee to the WRTA, began the recertification process. Each eligible individual will be issued an Identification Card with a maximum expiration date of five (5) years.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Office of Civil Rights is responsible for civil rights compliance and monitoring to ensure non-discriminatory provision of transit services. For more information, please visit the FTA website.