LTD’s Receives National Attention for its Service Animal Program
The best practices and policies developed from Lane Transit District’s (LTD) service animal pilot program are being recognized by the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) as a model to learn from and consider for other jurisdictions.
LTD’s Accessible Services Specialist John Ahlen led the pilot program study funded by the Oregon Department of Transportation. He will present its findings and recommendations during a national Webinar hosted by the CTAA on Tuesday, September 24, 2019. The webinar is open to the public; registration is at https://bit.ly/2mcBy38.
“The goal of the study was to minimize any confusion about the status of an animal during boarding,” Ahlen said. “LTD works to create a welcoming and consistent experience for all service animal handlers.”
According to data from the 2017 Community Survey, https://factfinder.census.gov, in Lane County, 16.8% of its nearly 362,000 residents are people with disabilities compared to 14.6% of Oregon’s population and 12.6% of the population in the United States.
“In 1985, LTD was the first fully accessible public transit system in the country, and we continue that spirit today. Transit agencies provide vital services for people with disabilities, and LTD is well positioned to meet the needs of our community,” Ahlen said.
More than 100 riders with service animals and nearly 200 LTD bus drivers participated in the 2018 study. LTD annually serves more than 6,000 riders with disabilities, and honored riders who are 65 years of age or older.
The addition of a service animal “paw print” endorsement on a rider card netted dramatic results for LTD, with extremely high satisfaction rates for both riders and drivers. Participants have perceived boarding the bus with a paw print on the rider card to be faster, and with fewer conflicts. Riders also generally report choosing to ride public transit more frequently when using a paw print.
“The most important thing public transit does is to offer the freedom for all of us to travel where we need to go,” Ahlen said. “After a yearlong pilot period, we’ve found that our program has made public transit more accessible.”