CATARIDE Eligibility Guidelines for Paratransit Service

Eligibility Guidelines for Paratransit Service Under the ADA

The ADA requires that CATARIDE complementary paratransit service be provided to individuals with disabilities who are unable to use the fixed-route bus system without assistance (except for assistance of the bus driver to operate the lift/ramp and/or secure a mobility device).  Those under the age 65 applying for paratransit service based on a disability should please review the following eligibility information carefully before submitting an application.

Categories of Eligibility

There are three categories of eligibility for the CATARIDE program; please review the eligibility requirements below to assist in completing your application for paratransit service on the basis of disability. In each case, eligibility may apply to some trips and not others, based on your ability to ride fixed-route bus service under certain conditions. Note that the specific conditions for eligibility, and not simply the existence of a disability in and of itself, must be met.


Category 1: An individual with a disability who is unable, as a result of a physical or mental impairment, to board, ride, or disembark from any accessible fixed-route bus usable by individuals with disabilities, without the assistance of another individual (except an operator of a wheelchair lift or other boarding assistance device).

Examples include:

Individuals who cannot “navigate the bus system” because of cognitive or vision impairments which make them unable to obtain and understand system information, recognize and board the correct vehicle, have the correct fare available and/or use the fare collection system, recognize destinations, transfer from bus to bus, or otherwise be unable to use buses.

Individuals with disabilities who cannot stand on a crowded bus when seats, including priority seats, may not be available.

Individuals who use wheelchairs and who cannot use the lift or get to the wheelchair securement area without assistance, except for the assistance of drivers in using lifts, ramps, and securement devices.  (Individuals who can use buses with such driver assistance are not eligible under this category.)

Please note: Individuals trained to use buses for certain trips are eligible for paratransit only for trips not included in the training.

Individuals with mobility impairments who do not use wheelchairs, but cannot board the bus using steps because they use canes, leg braces or otherwise cannot use steps, are expected to board by standing on the lift and are not eligible for paratransit service if they can do so. For more information regarding mobility devices, please see CATA’s Mobility Device Policy below.

Mobility Device Policy

There are many styles and types of mobility devices.  They vary in shape, weight, and how they benefit the user.  Mobility devices can be taken on a CATA bus if it can be safely loaded and secured.  Mobility devices fitting the following U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Regulation description are permitted on a CATA bus and must be secured in the securement area:

“Wheelchair means a mobility aid belonging to any class of three or more wheeled devices, usable indoors, designed or modified for and used by individuals with mobility impairments, whether operated manually or powered.”

Wheelchair Size Specifications
All CATA vehicles are built and maintained in adherence with all USDOT regulations.   

Size: CATA can accommodate all wheelchairs that fit within the size regulation of 30” wide by 48” long.  Wheelchairs and attached items exceeding these dimensions will be judged on a case-by-case basis, and may be excluded if accommodating the wheelchair is inconsistent with legitimate safety requirements.

Weight: USDOT regulations require that vehicle lifts and ramps are capable of accommodating a capacity of at least 600 lbs.  All CATA buses can accommodate a combined wheelchair and passenger weight of up to 600 lbs.

CATA operates some buses with ramps and lifts that can carry a combined weight that exceeds the required 600 lbs.  Each of CATA’s buses displays lift specifications near the door where the lift or ramp is housed.  In addition, passengers may obtain a detailed list of weight limits by bus number by calling CATA’s Customer Service Center at (814) 238-CATA(2282) or visiting CATA’s website at

Securing Mobility Devices
CATA requires all mobility devices to be secured using a four-point securement system.  The driver will either secure the mobility device or ensure that the passenger has secured it properly with the minimum four securement points.  The mobility device must not move more than one inch in any direction upon being secured.

The bus is equipped with lap belts and shoulder harnesses, and while not required, passengers are strongly encouraged to use them. These restraints help prevent injuries. The driver will ask the passenger if they would like to use the lap belt and shoulder harness and assist the passenger in using these restraints if requested.

Non-traditional mobility aids must be secured or stowed under or between the passenger seats.

Walkers and other mobility devices on which the passenger does not sit should be folded up and stored so as not to block the aisle.  The device can be secured in the mobility device securement area if it cannot be stowed safely; however, these devices cannot be used to sit on during the bus ride.


Category 2: An individual with a disability who needs to use a wheelchair lift or other boarding assistance device, and who is able to board, ride, or disembark from any accessible fixed-route bus usable by individuals with disabilities, without the assistance of another individual (except an operator of a wheelchair lift or other boarding assistance device), but an accessible vehicle is not available on a fixed-route or routes at the times those fixed routes operate, or if the lift cannot be deployed at the stop which is required.

Because all CATA fixed-route buses are equipped with ramps or lifts, the bus system is considered 100% accessible, and individuals who can use accessible buses are not eligible for paratransit service, as noted under Category 1.

Category 3: An individual with a disability who has a specific impairment-related condition which prevents travel to and/or from a bus stop.  (Environmental conditions, distance, weather, terrain and architectural barriers do not, in and of themselves, confer eligibility.)  Examples of such barriers include lack of curb cuts, distance to the bus stop, steep terrain, snow and/or ice, temperature extremes, major intersections or other barriers which are difficult to negotiate.  However, the conditions or barriers must prevent the individual from traveling to and from stops, not simply make it more difficult to do so.  

Please note: In many circumstances, it is possible for an individual with a disability to travel to and from a bus stop, and the individual is not eligible for paratransit under this category.  Eligibility will be based on whether or not the individual cannot find a reasonable alternative path to and from the stop.  For example, a lack of curb cuts might require a wheelchair user to take a less direct route than an ambulatory individual  to or from a destination and would require more time, trouble, and effort for the wheelchair user. But if the individual can still get to the bus stop, that individual is not eligible for paratransit service.

Eligibility under this category may be conditional. In the example above, the wheelchair user may be eligible only when there is sufficient snow on the ground to prevent travel to and from the destination, and such conditions must be detailed on the application.  

Personal Care Attendants (PCAs)

Paratransit service will be provided to a personal care attendant (PCA) traveling with an eligible rider and to one companion in addition to the PCA.  Additional companions will only be accommodated if space is available. PCAs and companions must be picked up and dropped off at the same locations as the eligible rider. Companions must pay the same fare as the eligible rider, while PCAs pay no fare.

A PCA is someone designated or employed specifically to help the eligible individual meet his or her personal needs and may always ride with that individual.  The need for a PCA is not necessarily related to travel on paratransit service, but a companion is only considered a PCA if the eligible individual regularly makes use of and requires the use of a PCA to assist with daily life activities and the companion actually acts in that capacity.  The need for a PCA must be detailed on the application.

The CATARIDE service operates only at the times and on the days that CATA’s regular, fixed-route system operates (in CATA’s member municipalities - State College Borough and College, Ferguson, Harris and Patton Townships - seven days a week; in Bellefonte Borough and Spring and Benner Townships Monday through Saturday, and in Halfmoon Township Monday through Friday) and all trip origins and destinations must be located within 3/4 mile of those routes. If you are able to use the regular bus system, but wish to apply because they do not run when or where you wish to go, you will not be eligible for paratransit service.

Eligibility Guidelines for Complementary Paratransit Service Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (PDF format)

link to information on mobile options