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Regional jurisdictions and the federal government have settled out of court with a Dallas-based paratransit contractor that they alleged had committed fraud through billing for MetroAccess—the transit agency’s service for people with disabilities.
D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine announced the settlement on Wednesday. Under its terms, MV Transportation will pay the District $36,000, Virginia $22,500, and Maryland $92,000. Although the company is not admitting guilt in agreeing to the settlement, the state attorney generals for the DMV region claimed under seal in 2014 that the firm had wrongly billed Metro for “cancelled” trips for riders who’d already died. The lawsuit alleged that MV Transportation exploited its contract with the transit agency by recording a “cancellation at the door,” for which it was entitled to compensation, for deceased customers with disabilities. MV Transportation allegedly continued to list pickups at their residences, thus racking up cancellation fees.
MetroAccess-drivers-turned-whistleblowers brought this practice to the local governments’ attention a couple of years ago, according to Racine’s office. They also alerted them to another purportedly fraudulent activity by MV Transportation: Billing Metro for deploying wheelchair-accessible vehicles, which are twice as costly as others in MetroAccess’ fleet, when it knew that riders did not require them. (City Desk has reached out to MV Transportation and will update this post if we hear back.)
“Ensuring integrity in the use of taxpayer money is a top priority for this office and one of the key roles of any state attorney general,” Racine said in a statement. “We were proud to work with our colleagues from Maryland, Virginia, and the federal government to safeguard the funds of this crucial inter-jurisdictional agency.”
The settlement comes as Metro looks to cut costs associated with its paratransit services. You can read the initial suit here.