Parallel Transit

June 11, 2011 at 11:41 AM (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

I recognize that town, city, countiy and state budgets have all been hit hard by the downturn. I understand the concept of shared sacrifice, which I will continue to practice.

It’s my understanding that there was an extension into the very eastern end of Lorain County by the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (the specific route number was 46, I believe), that ended in 2008. Due to Cuyahoga Countiy’s budget shortfall, they cut the route to a point 1.7 miles to the east of here, back to within the Cuyahoga county line at Walker and Bradley Roads.

As for Lorain County itself, I’ve been told that their paratransit used to cover most of the county. You called them, set up a ride and went. There were also at least two more fixed route systems that covered a much broader part of the county than is covered now by fixed route service. In January 2010, my understanding is that paratransit stopped adding new people to its service or even to it’s waiting list. (!) The fixed routes shrank to two, where the busses come once an hour. The paratransit also shrank to within 1/4 mile of these two fixed routes, in the central part of the county, specifically Lorain and Elyria only.

The big savings of course, was health and salary for the employees. Secondary savings, cut down repair times and types since fewer busses are running. Ironically the system has new busses sitting idle that were purchased through the federal government in 2009.

But that savings was offset at least somewhat. According to a survey done by LCT, 40% of the folks that rode the wider fixed bus system did so to get to work. Many simply lost their jobs. And as mentioned above, many of the folk who drove for LCT lost their jobs as well. That automatically lessened the amount of consumer spending in the county and raised the County Human Services burden over the next year.

The Lorain county commissioners actually own the transit system. There is some federal money coming in, but I would guess that the Commissioners position is that they can narrow access this drastically because of the size off their ownership stake in the transit company without risking violation of the ADA.

My city has a community circulator, which I’m in the process of signing up for, that goes specific places on specific days…some medical transport is available on a single weekday. I plan to make use of Library day.

(and, regrettably hitting the Wal Mart if my local grocery store doesn’t have the household items I need. (Yeah, Bridgett, it’s *that* particular Wal Mart. Which is why I just don’t want to give them any $$)

I’m trying to imagine what the persons with disabilities who were unable to drive did, if they lived outside of the boundaries, or met the medical criteria to be added to Lorain County Transit but were unable to use the service.

Of course in late 2009, when the commissioners were nearly forced to eliminate the service altogether, funds did arrive on the scene so they could continue with the limits the system has now.

To their credit, the commissioners partnered with Goodwill to buy two paratransit vans Two. For the entire county. The service is called Goodwheels.

I give kudos to the Goodwheels thing. The drivers are experienced, good at the job and quite nice. Also prompt, so far, since the dispatchers aren’t working with some computer program devised in Canada to dispatch calls here correctly.

The “there’s no money” argument.

I’ve been trying to think of nonessentials they could have cut:

1. Beautification Projects along the highway. (I’m not talking about cutting any repairs of course. They have to be funded.)

2. Their share of the money invested in the creation of whatever latest and greatest Huge and/or Gentrified shopping district they’ve invested in.

3. If they help sponsor or pay for any festivals and celebrations during the year, cut their share of one of them…or more.

4. Expansion of existing public buildings…except where safety is at risk. Schools would still be expanded, renovated as funds became available etc.

But having met my neighbors, I absolutely know that for for myself, for them, for seniors, for any other persons with disabilities in the county, restoration of a fuller paratransit schedule would drastically improve the quality of life for those who are unable to work (i.e. better medical follow up, more socialization to help with depression, thus having a positive effect on medical care spending…)

And for those who cannot drive, but are able to work outside the home, it would expand that possibility into a reality that would not require the 48.00 one way trip to a worksite via taxi…and some folks who can work can’t get their assistive tech into a taxi…

I think that Lorain County is in a unique situation. In the eastern half of the county, pricey cul-de-sac homes are arriving. This part of the county is rapidly becoming an exurb of Cleveland.(Which makes me wish that Cuyahoga County was doing better budget wise., not worse, and could do their part to help by kicking that extended route back into Lorain County. I’m not familiar with the western part of the county, (Amherst, etc ) but they need Lorain County Transit service as well.

Back to the shared sacrifice thing. I’ve always been puzzled by the budget axe falling on those least likely to be able to handle such cuts. I’m cynical and unsurprised by it. I just don’t understand it. It’s not like there’s a stereotype of persons with disabilities with stacks of ready cash to buy their own van-and-driver combo.

[ Oh, believe me, if I got rich I’d do it. And the driver would look Hawt. Job requirement.]

There isn’t a stereotype of each and every senior being able to drive until the end of their days.

I think it’s the subconscious idea that those two types of lives aren’t valuable enough (or no longer valuable enough) to pay for their liberty. That’s bull of course…but the idea’s out there someplace. Their liberty to go about their lives and do the things the able do or the younger generation does. Not part time. Not just for medical services. Full liberty. That’s what people have a right to.

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