MTS operates fixed route bus and light rail trolley services transporting people with physical, cognitive, and visual disabilities on a daily basis. All MTS buses and trolleys are equipped with features that provide system accessibility, such as low floor easy to board buses and trolleys equipped with lifts/ramps, audio announcements, designated priority seating areas for people with disabilities, enhanced signage, kneeling buses, and hand rails.
MTS also provides a paratransit operation, MTS Access. Access is for customers with disabilities who are functionally unable to use the MTS fixed route bus and trolley services.
What does MTS Access Paratransit service Provide?
- MTS Access is provided in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and is an origin to destination, shared ride, advanced reservation public transit service. Consistent with the ADA, MTS Access is comparable to MTS’s fixed route bus system including in terms of service characteristics (such as on time performance and travel time) and service area (providing service within ¾ mile of a regular MTS fixed bus route).
- Example: If the bus route closest to you does not run on the weekends, MTS Access would not be available to you on the weekends, just as a passenger on a fixed route bus would not be able to ride the fixed route bus if it did not operate on the weekend.
- MTS Access is divided into 4 zones. You may be required to transfer to another vehicle for transportation between zones, just as a regular rider would have to make occasional transfers.
- Example: If you are traveling from Poway (Zone 2) to La Jolla (Zone 1), you would board one MTS Access vehicle in Poway, transfer to another vehicle in Miramar and complete your trip on the second vehicle.
- MTS Access operates within an ADA service area. Pickup and drop-off locations for MTS Access must be within our service area.
- Our service area is designed to complement the fixed bus and Trolley routes and times. The ADA service area and hours may contract or expand as we make service changes to our fixed route bus and trolley operations.
Please note that the ADA service area will always complement the fixed route bus and trolley routes and times. The ADA service area and hours may contract or expand as service changes are made to the MTS fixed route bus and trolley operations. If schedule or route changes are made to an existing bus or trolley line; the MTS Access Service Area Map would be modified accordingly.
You must be certified as eligible before you can use the Access service.
To become certified:
- Complete an application:
- MTS will make one of the following determinations about your needs within 21 days:
- Unconditional: Individuals who cannot travel independently due to severe or profound intellectual disabilities or individuals with physical disabilities who have limited functional ability who are unable to board, ride, disembark, or understand the fixed route bus and trolley system under all circumstances.
- Conditional: Individuals with disabilities who have learned how to make certain trips on fixed routes but cannot make all trips independently on fixed route. Individuals with physical disabilities who can reach a bus stop or rail station within four blocks when the route is accessible.
- Temporary: Individuals whose disability may improve over time or with treatment and then can use the fixed route system.
- Visitor: Visitor status will be provided to any individual for up to 21 days in any 12-month period by providing documentation that you have a health condition or disability which prevents you from using the fixed route buses and trolley. If you travel to other areas and are certified in San Diego, you can contact the transit authority in that area and request visitor eligibility there.
- Ineligible: Individuals who indicate or demonstrate they have the functional ability to board, ride, disembark, and understand the fixed route bus and trolley system under all circumstances.
If you are visiting San Diego and use ADA Paratransit where you live, you are eligible for use of MTS Access for up to 21 days in a 12-month period. Call toll-free at 1.844.299.6326 (TTY/TDD: 7-1-1) in advance to be added to our passenger list. We require basic information and documentation of your hometown ADA certification. If your certification documents are cannot be retrieved from your local transit agency, you may demonstrate proof of disability which prevents you from using our fixed route buses and trolley.
If approved, a verification of certification status will be mailed to you for your records. You may reserve a ride after you have been certified as ADA eligible.
Rides are scheduled by calling between 8am and 5pm:
Reservations are accepted from two days in advance until 5:00p.m. the day before travel. MTS Access does not offer same day reservations to its riders. When making a reservation, we will need the name of the passenger, the pick-up and destination addresses, any return trip information, if a personal care attendant (PCA) or a companion will travel with you, and if you will be using a mobility device. Our reservation agents may need until 5pm the day before your ride to finalize your pickup time. Example: If you wish to travel on a Monday, you can call to schedule your trip from 8:00am – 5:00pm, Saturday or Sunday.
- Reservations may be made one of two ways:
- Pick-up time based - Your reserved pick-up time will be within one hour of your requested pick-up time. For Example if you request an 8:00 am pick-up, your trip offer will be between 7:00 and 9:00 am. Your arrival time will depend on your trip pickup time, other passengers pick-ups and drop offs, and the varying amount of time it may take to travel to your destination. Please calculate sufficient riding time since trip lengths are comparable to fixed route travel times. You will be provided with a 30 minute window in which your ride will arrive to pick you up.
- Appointment time based - You must inform the reservationist at time of booking that you wish to make an appointment based reservation. Your scheduled drop off time will be between 30 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment until your scheduled appointment time. For example, if you have a 9:00am appointment, your dropp off window will be between 8:30 and 9:00 am. You will be provided with a 30 minute window in which your ride will arrive to pick you up.
- You cannot request both a set pick-up and drop-off time. Since trip prioritization is prohibited by federal law, all trips (medical appointments, school schedules, work schedules, personal appointments, etc.) have equal priority in the MTS Access reservation system.
- Trip lengths and times can be comparable to a similar trip on fixed route service.
- Example: Example: If a similar trip on fixed route takes 90 minutes, you could be on MTS Access for up to 90 minutes.
- If you require a PCA (personal care attendant), please let the reservationist know during the booking process so a spot can be reserved. A PCA may ride with you free of charge.
- You may reserve a seat for one or more companions on a space-available basis. Please note, companions must pay full fare.
- We are not able to schedule or predict drop off times due to other passenger needs, traffic conditions and other variables.
- If your plans change, please cancel as soon as possible. If we don't receive a cancellation call within 2 hours of the scheduled trip, it will be noted as a "late cancellation" which will be treated the same as a "no show."
- If you have three or more unexcused no shows or no shows for 10% of your scheduled trips (whichever is greater) within a calendar month, you will be suspended from using paratransit services for two weeks (14 days).
- If you need to change your destination while on the vehicle, you must call the reservation office to make the change as drivers are not able to do so. If your new destination cannot be accommodated, the driver will return you to your pickup location.
- All of our MTS Access vehicles run on a schedule. Your pickup may arrive within a 30 minute window and still be considered on time. Once the vehicle arrives, it will wait five (5) minutes to allow you adequate time to board. If you have not boarded the vehicle within the five (5) minute period, the vehicle will leave and you will be considered a No-Show. Timeliness is essential as we cannot delay other passengers.
- If you require a higher level of assistance from your origin to your destination, please let us know in advance so we can identify reasonable accommodations that can be provided to assist your transportation.
- If you need assistance beyond the curb, please let the reservationist know during the booking process. Drivers may travel from the vehicle to assist you; however, they may not enter a residence and must always maintain visual sight of the MTS Access bus.
- Drivers are not permitted to help you with the consumption of medication, food/drink, or handling money.
- Please let us know in advance if you cannot be left unattended. You will receive origin-to-destination service within our guidelines. Passengers who appear, or claim to be, unable to care for themselves and do not have someone to receive them will be transported back to the origin of their trip, to the nearest medical facility, or to a police or sheriff’s substation, at the discretion of the paratransit supervisor.
- Passengers who become physically violent, disruptive, harass other passengers and/or violate the MTS Passenger Code may be suspended from the service. At the time of such an event, the passenger will either be returned to the place of their trip origin or local law enforcement will be called to the scene at the discretion of the paratransit supervisor.
- Drivers will assist passengers with up to two (2) twenty (20) pound packages on and off the vehicle. All packages must be able to be safely secured under your seat or in your lap. When travelling to/from the airport, cruise ship terminal, or an inter-city bus or train station, the driver will assist with up to two (2) fifty (50) pound packages.
- If you require assistance beyond the service level provided under the origin-to-destination standard, you may be certified to travel with a Personal Care Attendant (PCA). PCAs may ride with you free of charge. Please let the reservationist know during the booking process.
- The wheelchair lifts on the vehicles are designed to not exceed a combined device and passenger weight of 800 pounds, and accommodate devices 30 inches in width, and 48 inches in length. If you and your mobility aid exceed those dimensions but can safely fit on the vehicle, you will be transported. Mobility aids and passengers that exceed the 800 pound limit or are not able to safely fit onboard the vehicle will not be transported.
- Passengers using service animals or traveling with a respirator or portable oxygen supply are welcome on MTS Access.
- The One-Way Fare is $4.50 for all MTS Zones. Transfers to NCTD require a fare payment to NCTD. You can purchase a 10-pack ticket book for $45 at The Transit Store at 1255 Imperial Avenue in Downtown San Diego. The Transit Store accepts cash, checks, money orders, traveler’s checks, Visa and MasterCard credit cards.
- You may also order your prepaid ticket booklets through the mail. Please send a check or money order for the amount of booklets you would like, payable to MTS, at:
MTS Access Ticket Sales
1255 Imperial Ave, Ste. 100A
San Diego, CA 92101
- You can expedite your order by calling 619.234.1060, Monday–Friday, 9 am–4:30 pm, and pay with a credit or debit card.
- Tickets can also be purchased online
- MTS Access prepaid tickets are only valid on the MTS Access service. MTS Access tickets cannot be used as valid fare or to transfer to MTS fixed routes.
- Children five years of age or younger may ride free with a fare-paying adult. While a Personal Care Attendant (PCA) may travel without paying a fare, at least one passenger must always pay a full fare. A fare must be paid when an adult or guardian is traveling as the non-paying child’s PCA. Likewise, two passengers cannot claim each other as Personal Care Attendants to avoid fare payment.
- Drivers will arrive any time within a 30-minute ready-time window.
- Example: If your ready-time window is between 9:00am and 9:30am, the vehicle can arrive any time between 9:00am and 9:30am.
- On occasion, a cancellation or lighter-than-average traffic could allow a driver to arrive earlier than your scheduled pickup time. You have the option to leave early or require the driver to wait until your scheduled time.
- If your bus is more than 30 minutes late, please call the MTS Access toll-free number (888.517.9627) to check on the status of your ride.
- Same-day trips are not required by the ADA. If a passenger misses their return trip, MTS does not guarantee to provide an alternative return trip. MTS will make our best effort to offer you an alternative return trip time. Please note, if a trip if available, there is no guarantee on how quickly the trip will be scheduled.
- A limited number of subscriptions are available for passengers with a regular travel pattern.
- Subscriptions may be placed on hold for breaks of up to 60 days. If they aren’t reactivated after that time, they will be canceled.
- Subscriptions are automatically canceled on most holidays and days of reduced services surrounding holidays. If you have a subscription and need your ride on a given holiday, contact the reservation office at least 3 business days before the holiday to make sure your ride isn’t canceled.
If you plan a trip into the northern area of San Diego County, the trip will need to be booked with the North County Transit District (NCTD). NCTD has its own paratransit system known as NCTD LIFT; their reservation phone number is 1-760-726-1111. Trips are independently booked by MTS Access (Zones 1–4) and NCTD LIFT. Trips with origins and destinations across in different service areas may require a transfer. Trips with origins and destinations across multiple service areas may experience more than one transfer. If origin-to-destination service is requested then the driver will wait with passengers for the next vehicle to arrive at transfer locations.