“Still, we mustn’t get complacent. Paratransit has many deeply-rooted problems, and since it fills service gaps for so many people, we need to fix what we have rather than tearing it all down in a fit of cynicism, or dismissing those who still use it.”
One of the greatest challenges disability can bring is the inability to drive. Public transit is a viable alternative for some of us, but public transit in its current state carries a number of limitations making it an impractical option for many. For example, people whose disabilities limit how far they can walk, how long they can stand or sit outdoors, or how well they can orient in unfamiliar environments may find that public transit doesn’t meet their needs.
“Paratransit” is a door-to-door transit alternative available in many urban areas, designed for seniors and people with disabilities. Customers can get door-to-door transportation at a cost only slightly higher than the cost of the public bus or train. Many of us depend on paratransit to get to work, school, shopping, important appointments, or social outings. As this post illustrates, though, many paratransit systems have multiple problems that can cause significant hardship for customers-earning such unaffectionate nicknames as “para-stranded” or “Dial-a-Wait.” While some of the problems may result from systems not having enough money to go around, others may be fixed with better training and a change in philosophy.
Two Years of Paratransit: Sad Truths and Hard Lessons