Chicago Sun-Times

Rights and wrongs: disability transit

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For my column this week, I spoke to several transit riders with disabilities who say that Pace, Metra and the CTA have gotten a lot better at accomodating disabled riders, but there are still big problems that need to be fixed.


The worst one: city paratransit users are being hit with higher fares to use the door-to-door pickup service, but these same riders are most affected by the inefficient routing system that paratransit carriers under contract with first the CTA and now Pace use to dispatch trips.

Pace is currently holding a series of public meetings to get riders' feedback on what improvements need to made, and Pace officials have made it clear that they're going to change the way paratransit carriers operate in the City of Chicago.

But there's another side to the coin: at the last Pace board meeting, board members noted that running the paratransit system more efficiently may actually hurt the cash-strapped agency in the long run, because it will cost Pace more money to serve more riders. As you can imagine, providing roughly 6,000 door-to-door paratransit rides a day (in the city alone) is a labor-intensive operation.

If you've taken paratransit, or are disabled but use mainline trains and buses, I'd love to hear about your experiences. How does Chicago rank among other places you've been to, as far as transit accessibility is concerned?

Also, I wasn't able to include this in the story but Shelley Sandow, an independent auditor hired by the CTA, did a very detailed analysis of accessibility on the CTA system. You can read her reports here.

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4 Comments

I am a father to a child who has CP and another child that is normal. Now i see the difference in both worlds but as a parent, no matter if its a disability or not, it is no where near safe to hold your child on a bus compared to having them in a stroller with breaks belts and support.

you people need to understand, that as a parent we need to get around the same way as everyone else, and a stroller is one of our needs.

try for one day to take a 30+ bag and carry it with you on a bus cta/pace and see if you can handle holding on to it(and thats the easy part because it isn't alive)

IN NYC openend strollers are not allowed on buses. The driver will not move until the child is in your arms (under 2 y/o)and the stroller is folded. you cannot lay it on the floor either. Consider yourself lucky

As a new Mother I think you believe YOU deserve special treatment because you are diabled, but if YOU were a Mother you would still think YOU deserved this same treatment. It is your attitude and other like you who are making it unsafe and uncomforatable for Mothers to have the same rights as anyone else. We need to get around and have a stroller with a child. You need to get around and have a wheelchair. It is sad that YOU of all people would discriminate against any group or individual for their NEEDS.
I live in Chicago and need to continue using public transportation just as I did before I became a mother. If my child were forced out of her stroller how would she be safe in my arms alone? In the stroller she is locked in and locked to the bus. If there were any type of accident, or not for that matter, what would happen to her? She would go FLYING! Would it make you feel better if she wound up in a wheelchair too? Then would she have a right to the chairs that the CTA say are for both handicapped and strollers, or not because she began as a stroller customer? Not to mention the the way the buses are driven it can be hard for someone to hold onto their own seat muchless hold a baby.
Stop being so self ritcheous and think like a human and care for the best safety for ALL!!

I am a disabled and have a special rider cards for using the CTA and also the Paratransit door to door pick up. I appreciate the service for both, tho the Paratransit Door to Door Pick-up should be revamped....as you must call between 6 and 7 a.m. the morning prior which is acceptable. When you ask for a certain pickup you are lucky if they are there within that hour. Coming back home through this service is a nightmare....sometimes you have to keep calling and calling.....you may get a ride in 2 or 3 hours after waiting. When I am able to take the regular bus--the Archer/Cicero or the Archer/Harlem....yes there are seats for the handicapped....alot of times Mothers with strollers push up these seats and push their strollers in there ( taking up 2 to 3 handicapped seats) they also get on with 2 or 3 other kids ( maybe day care workers , I don't know?) and they do not pay a fare ( the one adult does only)...these other kids sit where the elderly and handicapped sit. I use to think people talking loud and foul language on their cell irked me but this really irks me and the bus drivers have to accept when there is a adult paying customer that boards the bus.It states no eating on the buses, but these kids eat and leave a mess and take up seats for paying customers as like myself and others. There should be a limit of non-paying kids boarding and all strollers should be folded up. This message is broadcasted ( as well as shopping carts& stollers) is a public announcment put over the bus PA system. Something should be done about this problem. I have spoken to alot of others that takes the Archer buses and they also have this problem. On top of it, when these "stroller people" board and leave the bus they run the stroller over your feet and don't even say " excuse me"--they just keep looking at you--like we could pull our feet in enough. Heck there is just so much room when you sit. C'mon CTA do something for us "special riders". I have called at the Archer/Rockwell garage and spoke to a few people and they said to mention to the bus drivers while riding. I have done that a few times and they said that most people don't understand English that do it. . If people board with more than 2 children..because they take up seats as well as the adult with them..after 2 children they should have to pay and they shoud be mandated to fold the strollers up and have them where us " elderly and disabled" don't trip/fall on them.
I am sure there are other elderly/disabled that could agree with me on this.....c'mon people voice your opinion and let's me heard. The CTA says on their PA system that everyone must pay that board their buses....are they blind that they can't see that this goes on.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Monifa Thomas published on April 27, 2007 8:21 AM.

Bus Tracker for everyone was the previous entry in this blog.

Congestion pricing in Chicago? is the next entry in this blog.

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