Transit is vital service for these folks

By DEBORAH CHAMBERLAIN

Quoted in part from

http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=641624

Posted: Aug. 1, 2007

Boy, did I get an awakening during my recent visit to the Badger Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired (www.badgerassoc.org). Two issues came through loud and clear: the unique effect of proposed transit changes and pedestrian safety. The timely one comes first.

The association is on N. Hawley Road near W. Wells St. in Milwaukee, served by a Milwaukee County bus route targeted for possible elimination. This would have a tremendously negative effect on some riders, such as the blind, who have few transportation options. It’s not their “other” set of wheels, as the advertising says. For most, it’s their only set.

Let me tell you about a couple of folks who depend on Route 64.

Cory lost his sight about 15 years ago due to a detached retina…. has few options if Route 64 is eliminated…. His wife could drive him, but she would have to drop him off at 6 a.m. for his 8:30 a.m. job. Their new home was selected largely because it was on a bus line.

Cory became serious. “You don’t hear the riders complain about fare increases. Taking the bus is still less expensive than taking a cab; it’s more reliable. Some cabs don’t even show up. Even Paratransit services are being reduced. Fares might increase, but it’s not about the cost for us; it’s about our ability to be as independent as possible.”

… Kathy … never had sight in one eye…. Elimination of Route 64 would force her to take two buses and to walk seven blocks…. has brittle bones and is afraid of falling.

Kathy’s husband works for the Badger Association. [Route 64] changes would force him to leave home at 5 a.m. and take three buses to arrive by 6 a.m., providing all connections worked perfectly.

As Charlie, a sighted man living in the apartments with his blind wife, pointed out, “We spent billions of dollars making the country handicapped-accessible; then we cut the transportation so they can’t get there.”

The effects also could touch many of the other 2,000 program participants served by the association…. It’s the direct route to independence and self-reliance.

Deborah (Donaldson) Chamberlain of Wauwatosa is the principal of an advertising agency, a mother and an author of a forthcoming book, “Orange Picnic.” Her e-mail address is donaldso@execpc.com

Last edited by bs.   Page last modified on August 02, 2007

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