ACCESS service providers are held to high standards when it comes to hiring, training, performance and monitoring drivers.** Drivers have the greatest responsibility for ensuring a safe and comfortable ride. In addition to being some of the most caring and dedicated, they are held to the highest standards in the industry.

All aspects of safety and compliance with all regulatory requirements are monitored. Multiple audits are routinely conducted including:

  • Annual maintenance audits
  • Maintenance to Federal Transportation Administration standards
  • U.S. DOT compliance
  • ADA compliance

** Drivers are hired and employed by the transportation service providers. Drivers are not employees or agents of the ACCESS program. These standards are intended to ensure service providers comply with federal and state government requirements and make passenger safety a top priority in providing transportation services as part of the ACCESS paratransit program.

Driver Screening & Qualifications

Driver screening and qualifications include:

  • 21 years of age or older with a valid Pennsylvania driver’s license
  • Child abuse (Act 33) & Pennsylvania criminal history clearances (Act 34) in accordance with the Pennsylvania Adult Protective Service Act standards with no disqualifying findings, subject to continuous annual Act 34 verification.
  • Negative pre-employment, random, post-accident and reasonable suspicion drug and alcohol testing
  • FBI clearances for drivers required to transport unaccompanied minors and those who have lived in Pennsylvania less than 2 years
  • Physicals for van drivers as mandated by the United States Department of Transportation
  • Good driving record with a 10-year retroactive pre-employment check, continuously verified monthly

Driver Training 

To ensure training to proficiency, there are rigorous training standards for each ACCESS service provider with contractually mandated minimum requirements including:

  • Each provider must have a Certified Master Trainer on site to manage and supervise all aspects of the driver training programs, and certify training to proficiency
  • Standardized training modules to ensure high quality and continuity of training
  • Approved curriculum
  • Classroom, online and on-the-road training that is personal and interactive, including:
    • United States Department of Transportation (US DOT)/Traffic Safety Institute (TSI) fatigue awareness training
    • Defensive driving
    • Proficiency with use of lifts and securements
    • Required incident & accident reporting
    • 2-way radio and onboard technology competency
    • Effective communication strategies
    • Rider assistance & customer service practices
    • Disability & aging awareness
    • Identifying & reporting potential abuse
    • Requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
    • Effects of drugs/alcohol and prohibition of operating vehicles while impaired by drugs or alcohol
    • Distracted driving

Driver Assistance

Drivers must provide a level of service and assistance as required, including:

  • Proper announcement of arrival
  • Getting to the vehicle, including assistance up or down as many as 4 steps
  • Entering the vehicle, including use of the lift
  • Securing wheelchairs, mobility aids and seat belts
  • Exiting the vehicle
  • Getting from the vehicle to the door of the destination
  • Entering the home or destination
  • Carrying packages of reasonable number and size

Driver Monitoring

Routine driver performance monitoring is conducted by safety managers at each service provider location, and periodically by ACCESS program staff. A combination of on-the-road, unannounced monitoring and review of onboard videos is used to evaluate performance and take corrective action as needed.

Observation of drivers includes:

  • Obeying traffic laws
  • Use of proper greeting
  • Compliance with dress code and visible photo ID
  • Assistance to and from vehicles
  • Proper use of lifts and securements
  • Assistance with boarding the vehicle
  • Appropriate customer service practices


ACCESS service is provided with a combination of 4-15 passenger, lift-equipped vans and sedans owned, operated and maintained by ACCESS service providers.  All ACCESS service providers must comply with specific requirements including insurance, maintenance, driver training, and vehicle safety and accessibility standards.

Vehicle safety requirements include:

  • Current Pennsylvania State Inspection
  • Fire extinguishers, first aid kits and marked emergency exits
  • Maintenance plans that meet or exceed minimum requirements
  • Currently certified lift inspections
  • Pre and post trip inspections by drivers
  • Meet or exceed American with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements
  • Functioning communication & technical equipment
  • Interior/exterior cleanliness
  • Proper vehicle temperature
  • Compliance with State & Federal regulations

Vehicle Monitoring & Oversight 

ACCESS providers must implement U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) requirements for Commercial Motor Vehicles in compliance with state law and applicable regulations and policies of Pittsburgh Regional Transit and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) including:

  • Compliance with Hours of Service and fatigue awareness training requirements
  • Submitting a current U.S. DOT medical certificate for all covered drivers
  • Maintaining and inspecting required safety and emergency equipment
  • Maintaining pre and post trip inspection records and documenting corrective action
  • Providing current certificate of qualifications for mechanics performing state inspections, and retain evidence of ongoing qualifications

Cutting Edge Technology

Vehicles are equipped with cutting edge technology to ensure a safe ride including:

  • Onboard video cameras on every vehicle
  • Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) technology utilizing Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) mapping on each vehicle
  • Onboard computer tablets for driver schedule
  • Dispatchers remain in constant communication with drivers using two-way radio communication
  • Computer-assisted dispatch and scheduling, providing color-coded mapping with the location and timeliness of each vehicle in real time
  • “InTouch” automated call-outs advise riders that their vehicle will arrive within 10 minutes, of a low ePurse balance and/or weather cancellations
  • RealTime Information

Accident & Incident Reporting

In the event of an accident or incident involving a vehicle under ACCESS service, protocols are in place to assure swift reporting and investigation.

  • Drivers will report accidents to appropriate authorities and dispatch immediately
  • Providers are to report accidents to the ACCESS program office within one hour of occurrence
  • Providers are to report severe difficulties such as seriously disruptive, violent or illegal behavior to the ACCESS program office within one hour, less severe not more than one weekday following the incident

Accident & Incident Investigation

A certified PA state investigator and a Training and Safety Manager determine the level of investigation needed. Assessment is determined by an analysis of the accident or incident by:

  • Reviewing documentation and onboard video
  • Internal and external interviews
  • Identifying causal factors

After the assessment by the investigator and if an investigation is deemed necessary, upon completion of the investigation an action plan is created by:

  • Determining corrective actions necessary
  • Creating an action plan for implementing corrective actions
  • Preparing and communicating a report to all involved parties
  • Tracking and documenting completion of corrective actions