Detroit Evening Report: Detroit city council retracts approval of $49 million paratransit contract

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Paratransit in Detroit faces an uncertain future as city officials voted against working with a long-time service provider.

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French company Transdev has provided rides for the city’s disabled community for several years. On Tuesday, the Detroit City Council reversed their decision to approve a $49 million contract to continue that relationship for another five years. The decision comes amid criticism from riders like Richard Clay with the National Federation of the Blind.

“With Transdev-trained drivers leaving blind people at wrong addresses, wrong places, different sides of the city with no further assistance,” Clay says. “Not tying wheelchairs down properly for wheelchair riders.”

District 6 Councilwoman Gabriela Santiago-Romero retracted her yes vote, leaving a 4-4 deadlock because District 3 Councilman Scott Benson was absent Tuesday. That deadlock meant the contract was not approved.

“It is the administration’s job to do their due diligence to provide council with an amended Transdev contract or an expedited process to seek other vendors. It is our job as Council to consider all options — beyond this one false choice — and be given the time and required detailed information to make the right decision on behalf of the people this will most impact,” Santiago-Romero told The Detroit News. “And I don’t believe that to be Transdev, and I needed to vote my conscience.”

Officials with the Detroit Department of Transportation say the city runs the risk of breaking federal law without having full paratransit services in place. DDOT says the city provides 1,000 paratransit rides a day, and without Transdev, only 30 percent of those rides are covered.

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  • Nargis Rahman
    Nargis Hakim Rahman is the Civic Reporter at 101.9 WDET. Rahman graduated from Wayne State University, where she was a part of the Journalism Institute of Media Diversity.