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No More Free Rides

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In Colorado Springs, Colorado it seems that too many people have figured out how to abuse the  public transit system with a disability card. I say NO MORE FREE RIDES  and I am disabled myself on a tight budget.

I don’t want the possibility of  hard working folks who depend on the city bus; the students, the eldely or the disabled to lose an afforadable means of transportation in our city because the cheaters have depleted the bus system’s funds. I don’t want good city employees to not get their paychecks on time or even lose a job because too many abuse the disability card.

In my city there are public transportations discussions going on with a lot of tears over the proposed fee hike from FREE FARE for some to 85cents for people with disabilities who ride the fixed route city bus. I gathered up facts with clickable clinks  for those friends and family who are not familiar with how city buses and para transit works.

( If you are paying a reduced fare of $1.50 instead of $3.00 a fixed route bus ride in the city where you live…I know…I know…the proposed hike from an “unfair free fare” to 85 cents is comparatively cheap to fares in other cities.)

I get it…  $7 for a round trip fare door to door para transit is a lot of money when you are broke. It is still cheaper than driving a car… But, if  you don’t have the money-you do not have the money. ( No brainer taht sucks!)

The cost of getting to work is a financial problem that does affect so many more than we can apprecaite in our heads. No way to get to a job means leaving people homeless with seemingly no way out.

In order to keep employment or continutity of medical care People have to get from here to there some how. When you can’t get to work to get the job done you don’t get paid.

No transporatiotion= no pay check= no money to pay the rent= eviction= homeless. America, the land of the free and home of the brave will never be  completely ideal for every one.

I voiced my opinion on the subject, ” No more FREE rides.”. In this post I will address general community needs for transportation and the fact that no city can afford to cover the cost of people moving without getting funds to buy gas; maintain and repair vehicles; pay employees and have riders not pay a cent. Yet, there is a lot of boo-hooing over NO MORE FREE RIDES.

Read the short quote below with clickable link for what has been gone on with city transportion in Colorado Springs, Colorado.. .

Implementation – Sunday, April 29, 2018 POLICY CHANGE: ELIMINATION OF ADA FREE FIXED-ROUTE FARE The purpose of the change is to improve fare equity while retaining the incentive for Metro Mobility customers to use the fixed-route bus system when able. Metro Mobility is a door-todoor specialized transit service for persons who, because of a disability, are unable to use the fixed-route bus system. Current policy allows Metro Mobility-eligible customers to use fixed-route bus services for free.

To keep reading the full article from the source click HERE https://www.eventsinusa.net/event-public-meeting-2018-proposed-changes-colorado-springs-13175355

Each Metro Mobility ride costs MMT $25 to provide. *

 

To take schedule a ride on the para-transit van the one way fee is only $3.50 a ride ( $7 round  trip.) is often shared with 2 to 8 other riders.  There is no way the cost of operating a paratransit vehicle is going to be covered by that minimal fee of $3.50, yet, the whiners in the city do not seem to think about the fact that the * costs are not free to the city. ( Read a quote below for the actual costs)

 

NOT FAIR for NO FARE!

Some elderly and disabled people were able to access a reduced bus fare by showing their Medicare card or other documents when they got on the bus. While many financially challenged able-bodied employed pay full fare all the time.

Please note: individual bus fares do not pay the expence of operating a bus or paying the drivers.

Other folks, including myself,  have been able to swipe their Metro paratransit card to ride the city bus for FREE.

Why is that fair access to every one? ( Talk about reverse discrimination in many people’ minds. and I tend to agree that the No FARE is not not fair to everyone..)

Not an easy process to qualify for the ‘disabled’ rides.

People who quailified to ride a para transit van for $3.50 one way. in Colorado Sprigns. Other ciites are charging more or less fro comparable service. There are restrictions and medical forms to be verified in order to get this door to door para-transit privilege to occassionally, if they could, ride the ride bus for free- in order to relieve some of the para transit van burden.

My personal example of a Fair FREE ride:

Both my son and I have been certified to ride the para transit van door to door.

His disability is obvious while mine are not as obvious at first glance.

It is complicated.

I might accompany my son, as his personal care attendant, to his doctor’s appointment down town. I will schedule a wheelchair accessible para transit van to pick us up at our home then drive us to the door of the doctor’s office 2 o3 days before the appointment. (OR I take the van by myself to my own appointments.) When riding the city bus riders have to follow the route schedules and may even catch another bus or 2 to get a bus stop close to where they are going then walk the rest of the way….then reverse the process to go home. So riding the para transit van that picks up clients, like my son or myself, is energy saving and much safer that “walking” a mile or 2 or more to the closest bus stop in the rain or snow.

While we are out already maybe my son wants to go only 2 miles further to the Barber Shop he likes. Not ever barbar shop can be wheeled into easily. Rather than schedulling the para transit van for an additional ride that we wait for why not catch bus that is right in front of our appointment?

When lucky that things line up rigth we can catch a bus for free that happens to be in front of the doctor’s office ,f ro the alt year all we had to do was wwipe our para transit cards to ride for FREE. The City Bus then may take us close enough to the wheelchair accessible Barber Shop for a muc needed hair cut. We only have to cross the street that has a curb cut out when the bus lets us off. As a general rule the transportation ducs rarely line up when we want them to.

While we are out, we can “hop on” the bus to go the other mile… and enjoyed the occasional privelege to pay nothing with our disability pass. If this works out we will have saved a para transit van time a money to care for others who have to get to an apointment on time..

While out of the house and n the neighborhood. we might hae the time to stop by our favorite deli with bar height tables for a bite to eat with friends who live or work close by. This is doubful that things would ever go this smoothly very often: This is just an example why a home bound man would use the FREE bus option.

[I will take my son into a wheelchar accessible rest room at the deli or barber shop to discretely drain his urine bag..His care takes a lot of planning ahead  in addttion to getting him clean and dressed for the day.]

 

This FREE option frees up the para transit van to pick up  other people with disabilities from work to home or to dialysis or a frail elderly women (still living at home  alone) to go see the doctor while we “play” on rare occasion..

This optioned had offered many home bound people, like my son, a lot more freedom from isolation. I have made a point to state that every trip out is huge ordeal for my family. It takes careful planning ahead to meet his needs while enjoying the few really wheelchair accessible places in our city that is situated at the base of Pikes Peak in the Rocy Mountains.. The adequately wheelchair friendly business in town are few and far between- tho’ so many business do really try their best.( It is expensive to modify for every wheelchair or walker that may want to roll in the door.)

When our ieal bonus outing is done we will have a van pre-scheduled  $3.50  for qualified riders for our ride home.(pca’s ride free) …and we had better be ready and waiting for the para transit van or we will be written u as NO SHOW. ( 3 NO SHOWS can get a person suspended.).

 Let me explain how para tranist service works below. 

 

Para Transit Rides are NOT a Cake Walk

Even tho the para-transit van system is not ideal, we are grateful. Even door to door service for a sheduled ride to an appointment is not as easy as it is to jump into your own car or even call a taxi. Getting a “home bound” adult in large wheelchair out of the house if not easy. I have to put the challenge for us all in persepctive.

“I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet”― Helen Keller

Before some ones  cries “boo hoo I wish I could ride the ‘handi-cap’ van for the low low price of just $3.50 i is not fair” wait til you read how inconvenient the convenience that I am grateful for really is.

Don’t wish to be injured or get a disease so you can “get a free ride on easy street”.

People with disabilities are people who want the same independence as the next guy. But, they may have to hard work at the independence in a much different way as the next guy does to get from point A  to point B..

  • Schedule your ride 1 to 3 days in advance by phone.( You may have to be on hold a long time during busy hours. I try very hard to call during not peak hours when the the amazing schedulers an dispatchers are ovewhelmed. ( i love ’em to pieces .) These human people take good care of us so I think it is only fair to be courteous of them. I hope they forgive me when I have a bad day and they aren’t allowed to sound like they are having a bad day  themselves.)
  • Know the address and recite that address of the place you are going to/ e prepared with and the check in time of the appointment. Then guess-timate when your expect your appointment to be done. That is a guessing game.     ( I always allow extra time in case of traffic delay. I would rather we get to the appointment 30 minutes early to sit and wait than be 30 minutes and be charged $50 for a no/ late show at the doctor’s. We may have to re-schedule if our van is late..)
  • Be ready and waiting for the van to arrive 15 minutes prior to a scheduled pick-up or up to 15 minutes after the scheduled pick up. I will do math  and it is not an effiecient use of time. We can wait as much as a half an hour on the sidewalk for the van to show up. ( The another 1/2 hour on the way home) WHY?
  • Why wait up to 30 minutes for the “window” to open? The para transit van is a SHARED ride with other clients. It is an art for thee highly trained para transit drivers to get folks buckeled up, especially if some one is in a wheelchair. ( 5 to 10 extra minutes to load or unload and strap in or undo the tie downs.) There are times when a client’s appointment runs over their scheduled ride…oops!…the driver can only wait 5 or 10 minutes, if that long….then they go to get the next riders…someone may get left behind. Then a re-route van will pick them up later when they have time to fit them in. That  In cities like Colorado Springs where it is spread out, cooridinating appointments fro 700 riders a day for a is IF the client had the fosight to cal dipatch to say the docotr has not finished his exam and new orders.  The variety of needs is mind boggeling. We just take it in stride and make do. because it is easeir than walking 10 miles in our shoes..
  • Expect to ride around up to 2 hours while other people get picked up or dropped off at their door.  but….Don’t be expecting a para transit driver to pull over for you to “go potty”. You better “go” before the van comes. Don’t expect the driver to go the drive thru for a Happy Meal and Coke either if you get the munchies. There is no eating on the bus. Sure the drivers make every effort to accomodate getting to an appointment, but don’t expect to get home in time to watch Ellen or Dr Phil.on time, either. A 15 mintue one way trip by car can take 2 hours to get you home safely.
  • I block off 4 hours for one 15 minute doctors appointment 2 to 7 miles away from home for my son who travels n his wheelchair…our time is tied up. The four hours really does not include a bonus trip with a FREE bus ride, but rarely. I am a full time care-giver getting some compensation from the CDASS program, gratefully. I have no time nor energy left to be reeiable enugh to show up for an out side of home part time job.
  • Personal Care attendant: each client must be preceritified to have an  PCA attendant or a SERVICE DOG ride with him. It  is free for those qualified pca, but the seat has to be reserved or there may not be room with all the other clients. Drivers can not do any personal cares; only get the passengers on; strapped dow; drive; finally take the rider off the van safely. Drivers can only stop in an emergency. I have had to call an emergency with my son several times even tho it is distruptive to the schedule. Not many para transit riders need an attendant to intevene or assist with personal cares during a trip or at the doctor’s as my son needs. Please be aware that my riding on the trip is not for fun as a guest. I work my butt off as i try to may the trip as enjoyable and safe for my son as I can.
  • Wheelchairs are secured to the floor with straps.  A seat or 2 has to be folded up to allow space for the wheelchair ride.  Depending on the size of the wheelchair, an experienced driver might squeeze 3 to 6 wheelchairs in a van at one time. It takes some skillful planning how to dosie-doe those passengers around to get the right rides out at their door when the van gets there. There may not be seats for an ambulatory person nor a service dog.

NO MORE FREE RIDES

Personally, I don’t want to lose the para transit service  nor do I want to have to pay double to what we pay now becasue of some FREE-LOADErS who abuse the sytem.  If we want to go get a hair cut and enjoy pizza while we are out, I will glady pay 85 cents for my son and for myself as his pca. ( I may have to save up or sacrifice my own hair cut another few months to do so. And we may need to skip more than few home cooked meals or eat more butter sandwhiches..) The whole 15 minute before and 15 minutes after window of time issue and riding around in the van for an hour or 2 thing with the shared ride doesn’t leave the opportunity much freedom to plan to go a little further to accessible businesses..

Here is my gripe why I will willingly sacrifice the FREE RIDE on the City bus for the greater good:

TOO many people with the Get out of Jail Free card Collect $200 for passing go a Para Transit Disability Card were abusing the system EVERYDAY.

In fact the city transit authorities discovered that 38% of the certified for para transit “disabled riders”had not even attempted to ride the van for $3.50 / ride in over a year.

In my opinion that is like eating the entire contents of  grocery store demonstrator’s sample tray and demandig more FREE samples week after week. It is wrong…very wrong for people to scam from public transportation funds… and “we the people” have let others get by doing it.

What Is Wrong in This Scenario

What this means is that people holding those SWIPEABLE FREE RIDE cards could actually function well enough or had fairly accessible access to a fixed bus route to not need the para transit vans in the first place. Are they disabled? I guess so. We have to assume so. Not all disabilitities are clearly evident to the general public. Nor can a driver ask, “What s wrong with you? What is your disability?.”

These cards work like our plastic bank cards with a magnetic strip. The cards  swipe like an ATM without givig us any money back. They are also have a photo ID. My photo was taken almost 6 years ago. I have aged… alot!

I have to wonder if the photos were not being shown to drivers for approval or where they only swiped through the meter box where the personal para transit rider number was collected. Uh -oh! Could the disabled have been allowed others to use their cards?

( My opinion:What’s wrong with these cheater’s heads that they think no one would ever find out they were ‘robbing ‘ the system?)

The problem is that 38% of the FREE riders were NOT contributing to the funds at all.

My son and I have on occassion enjoyed the perk that  allowed them some extra mileage. .. The FREE ride was only supposed to be now and then, not a regular habit to take advantage of all those who pay their fair share. In the first place these abusers apparently do NOT qualify for the stated eligibility rules: I partially copied and pasted below. That is not to say that they do not have a  disability that qualifies them for a reduced fare.

Mountain Metro Mobility is an ADA paratransit service provided for individuals who, because of their disability, are unable to use Mountain Metro fixed-route bus service. Riders must have a disability that prevents them from using fixed-route bus service some or all of the time. This does not include people who have disabilities that make the use of fixed-route service difficult.  Mountain Metro Mobility provides comparable service to the regular fixed-route bus in terms of shared rides, days of service, and service areas and hours.    

Please read the

https://coloradosprings.gov/mountain-metro/page/metro-mobility-%E2%80%94-ada-paratransit

 

 

Everyone has to learn the cost of living:

I know  in my opinion some folks with disabilites have developed a sense of entitlement under ADA that made great strives towards being included rather than isolation of the eldely with decreases in vision/ or mobility and those person who have different degrees disabling conditions. The entitled one give the ecent disabled a bad reputtion. ( That is a very broad topic and some one will probably find my wording politically in correct and offensive.) But, trust me, “we people” have come a long ways  are learning to be more senstive all the time.

The American Disability Act was to give all people equal access …. not everything for FREE because they are a minority class..

I think some people have forgotten historically that people who were “different” were “hidden away” from the public eye. Good people did not know better than to fear what they did not know previously nor had the opportunity to learn not to fear “catching what ever they have.” Those fears seem silly now days.

Keep in mind that generations ago we did not the have adequate resources for curb cut outs or wheelchair ramps, as one kind of example.

The young folks may never did know that families fought for the  rights of loved ones for generations. Altho I support and fight for rights of every individual American, I am so sick and tired of the “I’m disabled so give me what I want for free when I want…I have rights… I will sue you, ” threat that too many disabled are pulling in communitites.

How about communicating respectfully with reasonable list of concerns? One size does not fit all when it comes to accomodating everyone’s needs. Someone has to come up with funds to pay for goods and services or our American democracy will falter.

A Movement Perspective

by Arlene Mayerson

…The ADA story began a long time ago in cities and towns throughout the United States when people with disabilities began to challenge societal barriers that excluded them from their communities… parents of children with disabilities began to fight against the exclusion and segregation of their children….

The disability rights movement, over the last couple of decades, has made the injustices faced by people with disabilities visible to the American public and to politicians. This required reversing the centuries long history of “out of sight, out of mind” that the segregation of disabled people served to promote.

https://dredf.org/about-us/publications/the-history-of-the-ada/

I honestly think that the younger generation has a lot to learn about the rights and freedoms they have today versus the lack of freedom those who needed support prior to 1990 ADA inactiment could only dreamed about enjoying.

When I was younger, much younger I know that I took transporatation in my parents car for granted….I was kid with a knowledge deficit. I know better, now, than to expect mom and dad to give me ride for free. It is past time other grown up people  no matter their abilites or talents figure out how to scrape together pennies to pay for the services or barter to get to where they need to go.

Sometimes life is not fair.

Let me tell you this, life is better, far better than it used to be way back when Jesus told to man to ” take up  your bed and walk.”.

 

 

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. § 12101) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. It affords similar protections against discrimination to Americans with disabilities as the Civil Rights Act of 1964,[1] ….read Wikepdia 

Now, I have aged; my vision is bad; my knees are shot…I can’t drive safely so I gave up my drivers licence and car. As a Baby Boomer, I am not alone in making tough decisions about how to carry on with life without driving. For me, life is more complicated because my once athletic and very smart son is now “home bound” with a progressive disease. Instead of checking off my Bucet List I am my disabled son’s primary live-in caretaker. Getting my son out of the house for an appointment is a major task, to say the least. We depend on our local paratransit.

Below is a quote with some stats and the link to the source.

Specialized Assistance Traveling Outside the Home

About 23 percent of individuals with disabilities need some sort of specialized assistance or equipment to travel outside the home (see appendix table 10and table 11)….

  • cane, crutches, or walker – 48 percent
  • assistance from another person while outside the home – 33 percent
  • manual wheelchair – 22 percent
  • assistance from another person while inside the home – 16 percent
  • electric scooter or wheelchair – 10 percent
  • oxygen – 8 percent

https://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/freedom_to_travel/html/data_analysis.html

 

Of course, transportation problems are an important barrier to the mobility and access of those with disabilities… the National Council on Disability..

Some people who are willing and able to work cannot do so because of inadequate transportation. Others cannot shop, socialize, enjoy recreational or spiritual activities, or even leave their homes. And some individuals with disabilities who need medical services must live in institutions due solely to the lack of safe, reliable transportation to needed medical services (, p. 13). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11420/

Note: the above short quote with link to the source relates to the why and how so many veterns  and or disabled persons end up on the streets and homeless.

… complementary ADA paratransit requirements … extremely costly … (1) they involve high ongoing operating costs and (2) there are limited opportunities for economies of scale. Paratransit tends to be expensive … difficult to group trips efficiently without making passengers ride or wait too long, miss their appointments, etc. … larger/ lower density the paratransit service area is, the more difficult it is to carry many passengers in a vehicle per hour or mile of service… raises the cost of each trip provided…. passengers with serious disabilities take longer to board and deboard…lowers productivity…. average one-way paratransit trip cost  U.S. transit agencies was $29.28 (calculated from unpublished data in FTA’s 2004 National Transit Database)…. average eligible traveler with disabilities to and from one doctor’s visit would cost almost $60.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11420/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11420/

Transportation

We all rely on different forms of transportation to go to job interviews, get to work, and participate in work-related trainings. Accessible, reliable transportation is one of the most critical — and perhaps least appreciated — components of becoming an active, productive member of the workforce for many Americans with disabilities. The best job, skills, or employment program provides few benefits if there is no reliable means of getting to work.   https://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/Transportation.htm

 

Enhanced Mobility of Seniors & Individuals with Disabilities – Section 5310

Equal Access to Transportation: https://www.transportation.gov/accessibility

https://www.ada.gov/

https://colorado.grantwatch.com/cat/37/transportation-grants.html

https://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/freedom_to_travel/html/data_analysis.html

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