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Transportation for people with disabilities, should be about options, just like it is for the non disabled.  For them, it’s easy getting in the car, taking the bus, hitching a ride with a friend, getting on the train, the plane or a cab.  Measure M is designed to create those alternatives for the disabled and seniors who no longer drive.  

I work full time and use a motorized chair and take Paratransit services to and from work on a standing order which picks me up at 8:30am and 5:00pm.  Beyond that, I use the bus since the bus stop is two to three blocks away.  The story changes on the weekend when I have to attend events or have activities outside the city, but still using paratransit.  Then, just when I think I can relax from work and recreate, I experience the worst abuse by transit providers when I’m sometimes left waiting on a ride for 2 or 3 hours!  This is unacceptable and definitely calls for transit options.  

Currently, Access Services supposedly offers rescue rides for people stranded especially in LA’s suburbs, exposed to the extreme temperatures or in the city exposed to the urban frenzy.  But the Access Services Operations Monitoring Center supposedly providing rescue vehicles has significantly deteriorated and at best only becomes a redirect service, meaning, the stranded caller, instead of being assigned a rescue vehicle, is just redirected to the original Access Services contractor which stranded him or her, to rebook a replacement ride always an hour or so later, adding more aggravation to the poor rider.  Again, we sometimes are made to wait for hours even for the replacement rides!  

Measure M should provide for funds for rescue rides to an independent company apart from Access Services.  This is important because if funds are given to the same inefficient operation, consumers don’t see real service improvement. Also there should also be more sufficient funding for taxi vouchers for low income seniors and disabled.  

Measure M should also provide same day service!  Disability is the only reason we cannot get same day rides and that is discriminatory!  People forget that we have lives too and that things come up that require immediate transit.  In the early days of Access Services, we had same day service.  I remember my Mom calling me at 2 AM to say that my Grandmom just died. Because of same day service available at that time, I was able to get a ride in less than 45 minutes to see my Grandmother goodbye before the funeral parlor took her away for embalming.  Non disabled people have most transit options 24/7 but not us with disabilities!!! 

Measure M should also provide ADA Gap services.  There are areas not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.  And these are areas short of the mile-and-a-half-from -the-closest-bus -stop requirement to qualify for paratransit services.  Currently, the disabled who live beyond this line have no transit options except the expensive cabs.  Measure M should start ADA GAP SERVICES for seniors and people with disabilities!

Another big area to look at is the taxi industry and its ADA compliance.  Measure M should give taxis a stronger push to expand their disability services.  In LA for example, while it is getting relatively easier to get accessible cabs in the mid morning hours, it gets very hard in the afternoon and at night.  

So, to sum it up.  Measure M should see to the following: 

A)  the significant expansion of paratransit services and their continuing improvement.

B)  the set up of independent accessible transit rescue services for stranded disabled and senior riders.

C)  set up ADA GAP SERVICES to provide transportation to the disabled and seniors living outside the mile and a half to the closest bus stop paratransit area.

D)  the expansion of accessible and affordable taxi services and more funding for taxi vouchers.

Measure M is all about transit as a civil right, the freedom to move about which is key to the freedom of assembly which is still key.  The freedom to petition your government ultimately, the freedom to vote!

Written by:

Lillibeth Navarro

October 15, 2016

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