What do you do when you need to go somewhere? You use your car and drive, right? This is not an option for everyone, including people who have disabilities.
People with disabilities often depend on public transportation to get them places they need, like work, or want to be, like the movies. But what happens if you don’t live near a bus line? What if your wheelchair doesn’t fit up the ramp to the bus? What if you want to be spontaneous about going somewhere?
For people with disabilities, transportation involves hours of planning to even schedule a ride. It often takes one to two extra hours to get somewhere. They may be forced to arrive two hours early for a doctor’s appointment or get pick-up an hour after their date is over. A simple errand can take much longer for them than people with their own transportation. According to Luther, a friend of the Arc, “I can’t get to the places I want to enjoy.” He stresses that he doesn’t want to rely on friends or family for rides either.
The bus system
RTS Access, formerly Lift Line, is operated by the Regional Transit Service and is widely used by people who have disabilities, but there are also limitations. For example, access to Monroe County is available, but the buses don’t cross counties. In addition, same-day ride service is often unreliable and risky.
Many times sidewalks and curbs are not cleared of snow so access to bus stops may be compromised for those who use wheelchairs.
Taxis, Uber, Lyft
Self-service options are available but not many of them are accessible. Taxis are also expensive. All of the above may not be able or willing to provide rides to people with service animals or power chairs.
In general, owning and maintaining a car is expensive and may need adjustments like hand controls.
Opportunities for improvement
Below are some transportation improvement suggestions from Arc Alliance, the self-advocacy group at the Arc of Monroe:
• Increase same-day options with a reliable service.
• Fix ramps on regular RTS buses so that any power chair can have make it up the ramp.
• Make adaptive vehicles more affordable for people who have driver’s license.
• Introduce UberWav to the Upstate and Western New York. This service provides wheelchair accessible rides and is being tested in larger markets.
• Create an integrated bus system that offers door-to-door service.
• Provide snow removal at and around bus stops.
How can you advocate?
Join an information session at Reimagine RTS. Visit reimagine.myrts.com/events for local events.
Contact your local legislative representative to discuss the major issues.
Become a member or get acquainted with Reconnect Rochester.
People who have disabilities deserve the same opportunities as everyone else — getting to work on time, going out to dinner with friends, running a quick errand. Let’s work together to make the Rochester community available to everyone. It’s an incredible city with so much for everyone to enjoy.