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Who can use Spec-Tran?

Customers certified in accordance with ADA are eligible to use Spec-Tran.

Certification is obtained by completing a short application, indicating the reason a person cannot use CATA's fixed-route service. The application is submitted to an independent party for review. Currently, the Disability Network Capital Area (DNCAP) reviews applications and determines eligibility. Applications are available online at cata.org (go to CATA Services) or by calling 517.394.1000.

Visitors to the greater Lansing area who were certified for ADA complementary paratransit service elsewhere may use Spec-Tran for 21 days. Call 517.394.2282 for additional information.

Where does Spec-Tran go?

Spec-Tran service is available in the cities of Lansing and East Lansing, the Townships of Delhi, Lansing, and Meridian, and up to ¾ of a mile beyond any of CATA’s fixed routes.

When does Spec-Tran Operate?

Spec-Tran operates seven days a week during the same hours as CATA’s fixed-route service. For specific hours, please call us at 517.394.2282.

CATA services, including Spec-Tran, do not operate on the following holidays:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Easter Sunday
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

The Spec-Tran is open on holidays to take ride reservations between 8:00AM and 5:00PM.

What does it cost to ride Spec-Tran?

The Spec-Tran fare is $2.50 for each one-way ride. Customers will be given their fare rate when scheduling their ride.

How can fares be paid?

Spec-Tran customers may pay with cash, Spec-Tran passes or with blue Spec-Tran tokens. Passes and tokens are available for purchase at CATA offices and various locations throughout the community. Passes can also be purchased online. Drivers cannot accept CATA fixed-route passes or tokens or personal checks as payment for a Spec-Tran trip.

For information about how to purchase passes and tokens by mail, please call us at 517.394.1000 between 7:00AM and 7:00PM Monday – Friday or between 9:00AM and 5:00PM on weekends.

What if customers don’t have the exact fare?

Customers must pay the exact fare upon boarding the vehicle. Fares cannot be paid at a later time.

Drivers are not allowed to make change. If a customer does not have the exact cash fare and pays with a higher amount, no change will be given.

Drivers do not have time to stop along the way for customers to get change.

How are Spec-Tran Rides Reserved?

Rides may be scheduled by calling 517.394.2282 between 8:00AM and 5:00PM to schedule rides up to 14 days in advance. The Spec-Tran reservation office is open seven days a week, year-round, including holidays.

Customers are encouraged not to schedule trips if they are not sure the trip will be needed. Ride cancellations cause Spec-Tran service to be less efficient and can inconvenience other customers.

Spec-Tran service is not available on a same-day bases.

The Spec-Tran office receives hundreds of telephone calls each day. Callers should have the following information ready when they call:

  • The name of the customer
  • The dates and times of the rides
  • The names of the locations and addresses of where the customer will be picked up and dropped off
  • The telephone numbers of the pick-up and drop-off locations
  • If the customer will be traveling with an assistant, guest or service animal
  • If the customer or the personal assistant or guest will be taking any mobility aids such as wheelchairs, canes or walkers

Customers should be ready to make notes about the dates and times they called, whom they spoke with and the information about their pick-up times.

Are ride times confirmed?

Spec-Tran must provide rides for eligible customers who request a ride at least one day before the ride. In order to meet that demand, CATA may need to change pick-up times. ADA regulations state that
ride times can be changed up to one hour before or after the requested time. Customers are not asked to depart early from work or medical appointments, but could arrive at their destination earlier than the appointment time and may be picked up from work or appointments later than the requested time.

The Spec-Tran scheduler gives customers a tentative “ready time” window. The ready time window means the driver will arrive up to five minutes before or ten minutes after your scheduled time. If the ready time changes, someone from our office will call the customer with the new pick-up time.

Drivers will not wait any longer than five minutes for customers to board the vehicle. Customers must be ready to depart at any time during the 15 minutes ready time window. If a customer has not boarded the vehicle within five minutes after the driver arrives, the driver will be instructed to leave and a no-show will be assessed to the customer. If the trip is the customer’s first trip of the day, another trip will not be scheduled to go back for the customer unless the problem was the result of an error made by CATA’s scheduling staff or driver.

Can customers choose the type of vehicle they ride in?

Spec-Tran uses small lift-equipped buses and low floor vans. Rides for customers who need a lift are scheduled on buses. Other rides are scheduled on buses or vans that will be in the customer’s area at the time of the ride.

Are there limitations on the types and sizes of wheelchairs or mobility devices?

CATA vehicles can accommodate all “common" wheelchairs. ADA regulations define a “common” wheelchair as being a three or four-wheeled device that is usable indoors. It can be up to 30 inches wide by 48 inches long when measured two inches from the ground. Wheelchairs should weight no more than 600 pounds when occupied.

How are rides cancelled?

To cancel a ride, call 517.394.2282 as soon as possible so that drivers’ schedules can be adjusted. The cancellation line will record your message. It is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Cancellations must be made at least 90 minutes before the scheduled pick-up time. Rides canceled less than 90 minutes in advance are considered no-shows.

What is a No-show?

A no-show is defined as:

  • Failure to board the vehicle within five minutes of driver's arrival during the ready time window.
  • Canceling a ride less than 90 minutes before the pick-up time.

Examples of how a no-show can occur are:

  • The ready time window is 9:45-10:00AM. The customer calls the Spec-Tran office at 9:00AM to cancel the ride which is less than 90 minutes before the scheduled pick-up time. This would be considered a no-show.
  • The scheduled pick-up time is 5:00PM and the ready time window is 4:55-5:10PM. The driver arrives at 4:55PM. If the customer does not show up by 5:00PM, the driver may be instructed to leave, and the ride will be counted as a no-show.
  • The scheduled pick up time is 11:30AM. The driver arrives at 11:30AM, and the customer tells the driver to leave because the ride is not needed. This would be no-show. The trip's fare cannot be paid to cancel the no-show.

No-shows that are beyond the customer’s control, may be excused. The CATA Paratransit Manager may request proof of the reason for the no-show before excusing it.

Are there penalties for No-shows?

An established pattern of no-shows may result in suspension of service. Spec‑Tran customers are notified by letter of each no‑show and of the appeal process. The Spec‑Tran no‑show policy complies with ADA regulations.

How much assistance does the driver provide?

Spec-Tran picks customers up and lets them off at the curb anywhere in CATA's service area. Drivers will assist customers on and off the vehicle, but cannot always leave the vehicles to look for customers or escort them to the door.

  • Drivers are not required to load and unload shopping bags and other personal items.
  • Drivers are not allowed to enter private residences.

What type of items may customers bring on the vehicle?

Customers may bring mobility devices such as canes, walkers, wheelchairs, etc. As a courtesy to others in the vehicle, customers are asked to limit packages to the size of four paper or eight plastic shopping bags.

Can customers bring someone to help them?

Customers may bring a personal care assistant with them at no charge.

Can customers bring others who are not personal assistants?

Spec-Tran customers may bring one guest. The guest must pay the same fare as the customer.

Personal assistants and guests must ride from the beginning of the trip to the end of the trip.They cannot be picked up or dropped off along the way.

It is important to let the Spec-Tran office know if personal assistants, guests or children will be accompanying the customer so that we can allow sufficient seating space in the vehicle.

What if I bring a young child?

Children may accompany their parents as guests. When riding in a small bus, safety restraints are not required. However, any child who rides in a CATA Spec-Tran van will be required to adhere to Michigan Law concerning safety restraints while in the van. Children under the age of eight must be in approved safety seats, wherever they are seated. For children less than 20 pounds, the child or infant seat must face the rear of the vehicle, according to the standard in the Code Federal Regulations. Children eight years or younger or less than 4’9” tall must have a booster seat. CATA customers must provide the appropriate safety restraints. Failure to provide proper safety equipment at the time of the trip will result in the ride being cancelled and a no-show being assessed.

Are service animals allowed?

ADA regulations define a service animal as any animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. Service animals are welcome on all CATA vehicles.

  • Service animals must be clean and well groomed.
  • Service animals must be leashed and under the owner’s control. Customers should not ask the driver to take the animal’s leash or harness or to assist in the care of the animal.
  • The customer is responsible for knowing the best way for the animal to board the vehicle.
  • Service animals are expected to sit on the floor of the vehicle.
  • Animals that display disruptive or threatening behavior will not be allowed on any CATA service or property.

What should customers do if the driver is late?

Drivers are faced with numerous unpredictable conditions that cause delays. A driver is not considered late until ten minutes after the pick-up time. If the ride is more than ten minutes late, please call the Spec-Tran office.

What should customers do if they are not finished with their appointment when the driver arrives?

CATA understands that customers are sometimes delayed for reasons they can’t control. We encourage customers to:

  • Allow for extra time at appointments.
  • Let the receptionist or nurse know the time of their pick-up.
  • Ask someone to call the Spec-Tran office as soon as the customer knows that he or she will not be ready at the scheduled time.

The Spec-Tran staff will do their best to schedule a later pick-up. In some cases, there could be a long delay.

What if a customer’s appointment ends early?

Customers who are finished with an appointment more than 30 minutes early should call the Spec-Tran office. If possible, an earlier pick-up will be arranged.

Can customers change a ride the same day?

Customers may call the Spec-Tran office up to 30 minutes before the scheduled trip to ask for a destination change if the new location is a shorter distance and along the planned route of the original trip. If a destination is changed, customers are responsible for canceling the trip and making other arrangements. Drivers cannot be responsible for canceling or changing customer rides.

How do customers express concerns or complaints?

Customers are encouraged to contact the Spec-Tran office to discuss any concerns or complaints regarding service.

CATA is advised on issues important to persons with disabilities by a Local Advisory Council. Meetings are held bi-monthly. The public is welcome to attend. For meeting times and dates, please call CATA at 517.394.1100.