There are clearly some issues with the current transit system and para-transit system in the Reno Nevada area. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Dora Uchela and her friend Eric who are both visually impaired users of RTC Ride and RTC Access. They were able to give me a very good insight into what their experiences are when utilizing these various transit services. Before sitting down with them I had a misconception that individuals who were disabled wanted to do away with the regular transit system and improve the para-transit system. In fact it is just the opposite. The first question I asked was how do you feel para-transit could improve and make their experience as well as others more enjoyable? Both of their responses were ” GET RID OF PARA-TRANSIT!!”. What they then proceeded to tell me was that rather than having para-transit in use for individuals with disabilities such as Dora’s and Eric’s they should make the regular transit system more accessible. They also had the idea of using para-transit for individuals with severe disabilities that really could not get around on their own or as independently as Dora and Eric are able to. They use the para-transit three times or more a week if they have appointments to get to because RTC-Ride only runs every hour. They have a suggestion that RTC-Ride should run more than once every hour. Their suggestion was possibly once every fifteen minutes to make it more accessible to everyone including individuals who are unable to drive themselves. The current Access system has a lot of flaws. You have to schedule it between one and three days out for service. When service is scheduled they give you window that they will pick you up that is an hour window and if they show up they will wait for five minutes and no longer before leaving. Dora had said that there are incentives given to the drivers who meet all of their appointments on time. This leads to another issue of drivers being very grumpy and sometimes rude to the patrons utilizing the services. Dora also mentioned that the drivers are too helpful sometimes and want to do everything for them when they are able to do a lot of things independently for themselves. Utilizing the para-transit both Dora and Eric feel that there is a sense of independence being taken away from them rather than having the use and accessibility of the RTC-Ride regular transit system. Both of these programs are wheel chair accessible. Another issue of the Access system is the cost. For ten rides on the RTC-Access you would pay $30.00. For ten rides on the RTC-Ride you would pay $4.00.
Some suggestions that both Eric and Dora had to better the current RTC system would be to add audible stop announcements at every stop and on every bus. Also had braille to the poles or boards at each of the various bus stops. They also suggested to slowly phase out Access and put more money into Ride so that Ride can offer more routes more often.
Something needs to change to make these transit systems more accessible and available to everyone.