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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Letter: Delays and Discrimination


By Charlene Obernauer

While delays in bus service for disabled riders is disheartening, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is also a violation of federal law. The Bus Riders’ Union has gotten many reports from disabled riders who rely on fixed-route buses, stating that the wheelchair lift was broken and that they had to wait over an hour for another bus to arrive to pick them up.

According to the ADA, NICE Bus is required to provide spare accessible vehicles incase a wheelchair lift is not working; and in that scenario, the maximum wait time for a disabled rider is 30 minutes.

NICE bus is legally mandated to ensure that buses are being routinely inspected, and that they are giving drivers enough time to check the wheelchair lift before they begin their trip. Additionally, if a wheelchair lift is broken, the bus must be taken off the road by the next service day. The agency may not put a bus with a broken lift back into service.

It has become apparent that many disabled riders are being left behind, both because lifts regularly break down and because sometimes buses are overcrowded and disabled riders are being told to wait for the next bus. Given the high price of Able-Ride, there is an increasing need for fixed-route service to be disability accessible; and without routinely maintaining the buses, this is becoming more and more difficult.

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