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Audit finds JTA contractor altered pickup times, gave free rides

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Transportation Commission is reviewing recommendations from a city audit that raised concerns about pickup and drop-off times being fudged and giving free rides.

The Council Auditor's Office reviewed the JTA's Connexion program, which offers transportation for the disabled.

The audit found that 87 percent of the time for 447 trips reviewed, contractors changed the actual pickup times in their scheduling system to fall within 15 minutes of what was scheduled. That made it it seem like riders were picked up on time, resulting in less financial penalties to the contractor.

The audit of the program from October 2014 to March 2016 also found that 13 percent of rides were given for free without noting any reason.

DOCUMENT: Audit of JTA Connexion program

The city of Jacksonville provides the JTA $1.3 million each year to provide the paratransit service.

The council auditor recommended more frequent checks of alterations of trip data and making unnecessary alertations in trip data a breach of contract. 

The JTA released the following statement regarding the audit:

"JTA welcomes the Council Auditors Office’s review of our contracted Connexion Paratransit Service, which provides transportation for people with disabilities who are unable to use our regular, fixed-route bus service.

"We are reassured by the fact that the year-long audit did not highlight any major discrepancies. We have already moved quickly to implement the controls and procedures recommended by the CAO. Furthermore, our contractor has made personnel changes to ensure that their established procedures are being followed. The contractor has also updated written procedures and retrained all dispatchers.

"Implementation of the CAO audit recommendations will further strengthen JTA’s transit service to the city’s paratransit population."