Chicago Sun-Times

It wasn't a bailout for everyone, disabled transit riders say

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Even with the mass transit funding bailout passed last week, thousands of disabled transit riders who use
Pace paratransit will still be hit with higher fares beginning Feb. 1, when the cost of the ADA monthly
pass doubles to $150.

The increase angers paratransit users who feel their needs weren’t addressed in the $535 million bailout
bill that kept the CTA and Pace from going ahead with drastic “doomsday” service cuts and fare increases.

Adding insult to injury, they say, was Governor Blagojevich’s surprise move to allow seniors to ride mass transit for free.

“The Legislature and the governor, they have ignored paratransit riders and ignored the disabled,” said
55-year-old Will Crosby.

Crosby was one of the organizers of a meeting held Thursday meeting by a pair of disability rights

The two groups, IMPRUVE and Concerned Citizens of Paratransit, want the price of the ADA monthly pass to stay the same, and if it doesn’t, they’re threatening to file federal discrimination claims against Pace and the Regional Transportation Authority.

“We have a civil right to safe, affordable service,” IMPRUVE coordinator Ayo Maat said.

Crosby and others at the meeting noted that many people with disabilities are on fixed incomes and
cannot afford to pay an additional $900 a year to ride paratransit.

The ADA monthly pass allows eligible paratransit riders who live in Chicago to take an unlimited number
of trips for $75 a month. Doubling the price of the pass will bring the annual cost to $1,800.

Officials from Pace and the RTA said the price increase is necessary because Pace has not met the 10
percent farebox recovery ratio for its paratransit service. By state law, each of the transit agencies
has to cover a certain percentage of its operating expenses with passenger fares.

So while the mass transit funding bailout will provide millions of operating dollars for paratransit, Pace is
still obligated to hit its 10 percent target, Pace spokesman Patrick Wilmot said.

“Raising the price of the ADA monthly pass is not related to the budget struggles we were having,” Wilmot said. “It’s a matter of unfortunate timing that the price increase is going into effect so soon after
the funding crisis is resolved, but we’re compelled to comply with the state law.”

It would take action by the General Assembly to waive or rescind the 10 percent farebox requirement in order for Pace to keep the monthly pass at its current price, Pace and the RTA have said.

But so far, legislators have made no move to tackle the issue.

Blagojevich has said that he wants to provide free rides to people with disabilities in the 2009 state budget, yet many disabled riders say that’s too long to wait, if the price of the ADA pass goes up next month.

“Where are people going to come up with that extra $900 in the meantime,” Crosby said.

“And then the transit agencies are going to say, where is that money going to come from,” added paratransit rider Mike Grice, of Hyde Park.

Roughly 29,900 registered paratransit users in Chicago are eligible to use the ADA monthly pass, Pace said. The regular paratransit fare is $2.25 per ride.

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Since the 3 zone system began, I can no longer use paratransit services because of the extended wait period for rides. Rides come two to three hours after they are scheduled and then take you all over the city before taking you to your destination. An example, I was going to Navy Pier which is 30-40 minutes from my house. I was in the vehicle for over 3 hours and never went near my destination. I can not do this with a 9 year old granddaughter who has to travel with me. A trip which should take no more than 3 hours both ways (even with delays on regular routes), now takes up to 6 hours for me.

The new northside carrier is the worse of the three carriers. PACE said that they would not eliminate the right of riders to choose their carrier so that there would be competition to keep the services working to improve customer relations. Instead they took this choice away and we are left with a carrier that is rude to clients over the phone and seems to believe that we have all day to get to doctor's appointments, work, etc.

I thought things would improve when PACE took over the service from CTA (this is what they promised the legislators) instead it has gotten worse!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope things will turn around or that the legislators will tell PACE that they have broken their promises and give it back to CTA.

Yes, Springfield politicians did it again as they stuck it to the poor again! When I first heard that Senior Citizens would be able to ride free with Reduced Fare Cards, I also hoped that the Disabled would be included in that proposal. Sadly, it was wishful thinking as the Governor forgot that the Disabled are just needy as the Elderly are, and that the Disabled round out the bottom of the economic ladder. Imagine spending $150 Dollars out of $640 a month for a Reduced Fare Buspass next to Rent, Utilities, Food, and Medical expenses that Insurance does not cover?! How do you think the hundreds of Disabled riders feel after Springfield made its decision without any consideration for them!! Steve Horvath, Chicago

Don't let this happen, not fare to anyone!!!!!!!!get the pun.

WE DID IT! -- But Not For Paratransit I received the Transit Update from Rep. Julie Hamos, but I am confused as to she you means by WE DID IT. Just what did we do?

The program she refers to does not help the paratransit riders, whether seniors or others, so we did not complete the job. Come Feb. 1, paratransit riders still have a Doomsday to face and later in the spring, a zone system that segregates riders.

Has the entire legislature forgotten us!! See petition attached from Concerned Citizens of Paratransit and refer to all the emails IMPRUVE and others have sent to Julie the past 2 weeks.

We want to meet with the Black Legislative Caucuses and the Mass Transit Committee to see hwy we are perpetually left out of discount, reduced are, and other relief programs for paratransit riders.

Would you care to compare incomes? Paratransit riders whether seniors or otherwise have the lowest incomes of any population group.

IMPRUVE is not asking for free rides although the nursing home residents really need free rides, living on $30 a month!!! Just fair, affordable rides; fair affordable monthly ADA passes; fairness and justice in policy, and the waiver of the 10% fare-box collection formula for PACE that Julie sponsored without consulting the affected disability community throughout all 6 counties.

IMPRUVE was not consulted. I don't think Concerned Citizens of Paratransit was, and if Access Living was, I do not believe they would have accepted anything that penalizes people with disabilities with unaffordable monthly passes!!!

If you consulted Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities in IL, they don't even have a regular Regional rep for Chicago. There are 6 areas of Chicago: SE, SW, NE, NW, central, and west. Who did Julie Hamos contact in these areas?

And they did not inform us.

Did she contact the PACE ADA Advisory Council, the RTA ADA Regional Committee, Anixter Center, Ada S. McKinley center, NIA, RIC Life Center, Galter Center, MOPD, whom?

How is it that WE DID It when we are being messed over, ignored, isolated, penalized, and don't ven have a person with a disability represented on the PACE Board.

This is 2008.

How does PACE have responsibility for a paratransit in which 80% are Black and live on the southside and nobody in this demographics know anything about agreeing to a 10% recovery ratio?

Chicago has 600,000 people with disabilities who live or work in Chicago and the governor and the state legislature did not think to make it mandatory for the PACE Board to have persons with disabilities included on their board?

Nobody thought it was wrong to exclude Black riders from the southside from 71st Street south to 147th, and northside riders north of Fullerton to Wilmette (excuse me, Skokie and Wilmette are being excluded by PACE Chicago operations) from having comparable service to riders from the Gold Coast, Hyde Park, West Loop, Michigan Avenue, downtown central business district, South Loop (mayor's neighborhood included), Bronzeville--who do not have to transfer and will more than likely get top service--do you know what the income is in these areas and who lives in these areas where they do not have to transfer?

Now in my wildest imagination, I cannot believe that PACE came up with these 3 zones blindfolded.

I also cannot believe that PACE can guarantee that Black southsiders, Hispanic southsiders, and northside people with disabilities of all ethnicities in Zones 1 and 3 will get equal service to the Zone 2 people.

And what happens to riders in Skokie and Wilmette-- how many transfers wil they need to make and at what cost?

How can we have a single transit service board charging us two fares to ride from Chicago to suburbs and vice verse, but the other service provider, CTA goes to Chicago and suburban locations for one fare.
How is this comparable service?
How is this transit equity?

How did the governor, RTA and the Mass Transit Committee promise us that paratransit would be first and make us last again?

How do you leave those paratransit drivers hanging like that and without health care and they are out all times of the day and night in all the elements without adequate breaks and paid low wages? Some work 12 hours or more, and without an hourly wage and not enough trips to support their families. Some receive an hourly wage and it is still to low to pay for health care and support their families.

And the Wage and Labor Board needs to step in to assist these drivers.


YOU, PACE, RTA, the governor and the State legislature DID IT.
I am not taking responsibility for the mess that paratransit has been left with.

I advocated for RTA, CTA, PACE and METRA to be appropriately funded, but I did not agree to a 10% fare box recovery for PACE that will still leave riders stranded and isolated, setting many of us set back again in our health, employment, and socialization.

This is not right. It is not reasonable and Julie and the legislature need to fix it now.

We will be planning a press conference with all interested parties who agree that
this needs to be fixed immediately.

Hope we can save WE DID IT for the Paratransit before Feb. 1!! Ayo Maat, Ph.D.

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This page contains a single entry by Monifa Thomas published on January 24, 2008 7:34 PM.

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