LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A North Las Vegas man claims a recent ride on a paratransit bus took him on an unwanted, nearly three-hour tour of the Las Vegas valley and it may be happening more often to others who cannot advocate for themselves.
Hayes Latin says he needs the Regional Transportation Commission's Paratransit service to get to around.
"I have 6 to 8 appointments a week," said Latin about his doctor visits.
Latin is battling a number of health issues including unpredictable seizures.
Recently, his troubles compounded when he applied for and was rejected use of the service which is designed for people who cannot ride on a regular bus for a variety of reasons.
A rejection letter provided to 13 Investigates indicated Latin could appeal his decision.
Latin was provided a complimentary ride on the Paratransit bus to the RTC's operations center for an appeal hearing last month.
Latin said the ride from his North Las Vegas home was uneventful, but the return ride was hardly direct.
"I boarded at like 11:45 a.m., and I got back to my house around 3:10 p.m.," said Latin.
Latin said the bus took him on a long, circuitous route which brought him as close as ten blocks from his home, but then took him many miles out of the way to Henderson.
Latin complained to the driver when he realized the route was taking him farther away from his home.
"[The driver] told me that in a lot of cases passengers that are in wheelchairs that can't speak for themselves are the ones that tend to get passed around the city and have lengthy bus ride times," said Latin.
"That's what really got me upset, and that's why I decided to call you guys," said Latin.
13 Investigates has highlighted paratransit troubles for years.
In November 2017, John Field, a disabled Special Olympian, was on a paratransit bus for 3 hours.
In that case, mistaken identity was blamed and the RTC pledged they were working on safeguards to ensure situations like that would not happen again.
In April 2018, the RTC's contracted provider for the Paratransit service, Transdev, revealed the company was conducting an internal audit based on 13 Investigates reports about the troubles and extended ride times.
"As a result of your inquiries, and some of the issues you've brought to light, it's a good chance, an even better chance for us to take another look at how we can improve," said Katrina Heineking, Transdev Regional Vice President in an April 2018 interview.
The Federal Transit Administration's 2018 annual Paratrasit compliance report showed there were deficiencies that needed action.
One of the areas of concern included long ride times.
Federal Authorities noted the RTC needed to independently track ride times compared to fixed route service and not rely on software for estimations.
An RTC spokesperson said in Latin's recent ride trouble there was an unusually high number of drivers that called out in the day in question which led to a long onboard time than what is considered acceptable.
When asked what an acceptable time to be on board the bus is, or whether there is a time limit for a ride, the spokesperson said the trip must be comparable to a fix-route bus service ride.
13 Investigates repeatedly request an on-camera interview regarding the situation but the offer was not granted.
Latin won his appeal to ride the Paratransit bus and has conditional use for three months.