Tag Archives: Access

Insight on Para-Transit

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.

Ethical Issues

Paratransit is scheduled and routed transportation services using vans or buses that serve people who are unable to drive, which often is the elderly or people with disabilities. This can have many ethical issues that come along with it. In some states, you have to be on Medicaid to use paratransit, this can bring up many issues because not everyone with a disability is on Medicaid. In Reno, it isn’t based on income, it is based on eligibility. The issue with that is there are also minor disabilities, such as slow reaction time or moderate visual impairment, and those affected may not be eligible for paratransit, even though it is not safe for them to drive. In these situations, it leaves them much fewer options which is not ethical or fair to the people in these situations.

Another issue regarding ethics is that many who are eligible for transport do not live within the range that the paratransit vehicles cover. This is troubling, because many people who would be willing to take advantage of paratransit are not able to due to the simple fact that they live within the route of a paratransit vehicle. This can be an especially prominent issue in rural areas, where those in need of paratransit may not be able to receive transportation. And if these people are not eligible for paratransit, then how are they expected to travel comfortably and safely to the destinations they need to got to? This is an important question that needs to be addressed. Another big issue involves wait times for a ride from a paratransit vehicle. If a patient needing a ride to the doctor’s office schedules an appointment in advance, then they should, in theory, arrive at the appointment on time. But what if the patient must wait for an extended period of time before they can receive a ride back home? This could lead to serious ethical issues. Regardless of insurance type, disability, or location of residency, everyone who needs paratransit should be eligible to receive it.