Lorain County Transit- an unacceptable situation

June 29, 2012 at 7:32 AM (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

This went out to the Lorain Morning Journal, Leap (in an abbreviated format), The Lorain county Commissioners and Lorain County transit this morning since I couldn’t get accessible transportation to a meeting to discuss accessible transportation — shakes head —

TDear able bodied County Commissioners, newspaper people, transit folks…to whom this letter is addressed:

Imagine you woke up tomorrow and there were no cars. You didn’t have one, your neighbor didn’t have one, your cousin in Vermillion didn’t have one.

Also no bikes, vespas, or motorcycles. No highway transport of any kind, except for the occasional delayed and underfunded ambulance.

So you could get to medical care sometimes.

But what is the list of things you are completely unable to do?

If groceries aren’t close, that’s shot. What about your pharmacy?

(By accident of location, I am close enough to banking, pharmacy, groceries, and my church to get there in the warm weather….but what about inclement weather, and what about the folk in the county who aren’t as fortunate???)

What about clothing, shoes, or dental care? Glasses?

Never mind the out of reach luxury of visiting friends, taking in a movie, or going to the park. Out to dinner? Forget about it.

That’s the kind of life that many many people with disabilities live in Lorain County right now, and have since 2009 when paratransit and fixed transit disappeared from everywhere in Lorain County except Lorain and Elyria in 2009. (With some exceptions that I’ll detail in a moment.)

It’s important to note also that except for contracted Medicaid HMO services, taxi service is basically contracted out, filled up and unavailable to residents for trips on weekday mornings or afternoons during the school year.

And please don’t bring out that tired old saw: “We don’t have that problem in Lorain County…I never see any folks with disabilities in my business anyway so it’s not my problem.”

The *reason* you don’t see us spending our time or money in your businesses,houses of worship, or homes, folks….is because we *cannot get to them.* If we cannot get to then, how would you ever be able to accurately grasp the scope of the problem?

Some of us do not have friends or family with accessible transport that can step in. It’s not like there’s a lift van in every garage.

We cannot walk where we need to go.

We cannot defray some of our own “cost” to society as we would very much like to do, by full or part time employment, because how in the heck do we get there? One of my neighbors lost a cool job because her transport source became inaccessible to her.

There was a meeting last week for us to voice our opinions about this. Be heard.

Irony of Ironies,

Couldn’t get there to talk about why I couldn’t get there,,,,,

Now….

People on Medicaid waiver do have access to medical transport, At a ridiculously high cost to the state per person per ride….incredibly higher than using a county wide paratransit system if it still existed.

There is a service called Goodwheels, and I salute them for the work they’ve tried to do.

But all they have is a car, and any wheelchair bound person who cannot manage that is out of luck….also you have a hard time booking a trip for when you need to go, since it needs to be at least three weeks out. They *had* two wheelchair accessible vans. No one’s been willing to get those repaired. There are /were also fixed route accessible busses sitting in a lot somewhere, a leftover stimulus purchase from 2009 that *never got used* due to the cuts.

This makes me sick.

There is Rideshare for possible commuting, but again, that’s limited to those who can get into a car.

Cities have community transport vehicles (Avon lake and Avon for example) but we share those resources with seniors, and like Goodwhieels, you have to book a trip at least three weeks out if you have the temerity to use a wheelchair.

In the winter, it’s the worst of all. Made much more homebound by the weather than by our impairments….such a state of body mind and spirit ultimately ends up costing the state more in Medicaid, Medicare or indigent medical dollars because if you’re stuck at home for three months at a time, you might not have the best physical and mental outcomes…

I cannot stress the financial side of this enough. There’ve been studies that indicate that *even* if a person with disabilities is unable to work, the consistent medical follow up, the access to dental and vision care facilities, the mental health benefits of socialization, enough clothes, shoes to get by….the right food…

…end up *saving the state Medicaid dollars in the long run.*

For my part of the county, an accessible dial a ride circulator running three days a week would ease this tremendously….say something that began at Detroit and Abbe linking it to existing LCT routes, , connected up to route 83, served Wal Mart, the library, the Avon Lake Cleveland Clinic Branch, Independence Village, Maximum Accessible Housing of Ohio (Lear and Walker Rd’s) some houses of worship, and the Richard E Jacobs Health Center at 33100 Cleveland Clinic Boulevard (once the Lear Road construction is finished the route would be much more direct….and head out of county to end at Detroit and Crocker and connect up with existing RTA routes without the fruitless attempt to ask Cuyahoga county to recreate a route the’ve cut. Avon and Avon Lake community transport try, but they simply don’t have enough accessible transport space—one van with one spot. And they often have seervices at times when members of the community are unable to use them. If that service could be replaced by a circulator that ran on a every two hours schedule….it would be an amazing start.

I’m unfamiliar with county geography west of Lorain, but folks on that side are suffering the same deficits in ability to move about their lives.

LCT should be tweaked just a little to include Sheffield Vistas as a direct stop on their existing routes as well….there wouldn’t be much cost to that, and it would open up access more fully for those residents

There are also senior/disabled facilities up on Lake Rd that could be served….

Where’s the money???

Well first….continue to *repair * roads of course, but please stop beautifying them for awhile and use those funds to help assure some transit access for those of us unable to drive.

In other words, make sure we can all *use* them before you pretty them up.

Second, readjust your thinking. This is not a “want” this is a definite need. If someone sent me a précis of the budget I’d be happy to debate some “want”s Id find in it that are less important than making sure that all of Lorain County’s citizens can get around in Lorain County.

If we are to be able to handle the activities of daily living, fully exercise our rights to freedom of worship and liberty, if liberty means the freedom to move about one’s own life, then that is a job that *someone* has to step up and do.

Spread the word, please, because many of us cannot.

I thank you for your time and attention.

Sincerely,

Jean M. Flynn

Avon Lake

betwixtandbetween@gmail.com

Dear able bodied County Commissioners, newspaper people, transit folks…to whom this letter is addressed:

Imagine you woke up tomorrow and there were no cars. You didn’t have one, your neighbor didn’t have one, your cousin in Vermillion didn’t have one.

Also no bikes, vespas, or motorcycles. No highway transport of any kind, except for the occasional delayed and underfunded ambulance.

So you could get to medical care sometimes.

But what is the list of things you are completely unable to do?

If groceries aren’t close, that’s shot. What about your pharmacy?

I’m one of the lucky ones. By accident of location I am close to church, banking, pharmacy, and groceries.)

What about clothing, shoes, or dental care? Glasses?

Never mind the out of reach luxury of visiting friends, taking in a movie, or going to the park. Out to dinner? Forget about it.

That’s the kind of life that many many people with disabilities live in Lorain County right now, and have since 2009 when paratransit and fixed transit disappeared from everywhere in Lorain County except Lorain and Elyria in 2009. (With some exceptions that I’ll detail in a moment.)

And please don’t bring out that tired old saw: “We don’t have that problem in Lorain County…I never see any folks with disabilities in my business anyway so it’s not my problem.”

The *reason* you don’t see us spending our time or money in your businesses,houses of worship, or homes, folks….is because we *cannot get to them.* If we cannot get to then, how would you ever be able to accurately grasp the scope of the problem?

Some of us do not have friends or family with accessible transport that can step in. It’s not like there’s a lift van in every garage.

We cannot walk where we need to go.

We cannot defray some of our own “cost” to society as we would very much like to do, by full or part time employment, because how in the heck do we get there? One of my neighbors lost a cool job because her transport source became inaccessible to her.

There was a meeting last week for us to voice our opinions about this. Be heard.

Irony of Ironies,
Couldn’t get there to talk about why I couldn’t get there,,,,,

Now….

People on Medicaid waiver do have access to medical transport, At a ridiculously high cost to the state per person per ride…incredibly higher than using a county wide paratransit system if it still existed.

There is a service called Goodwheels, and I salute them for the work they’ve tried to do.
But all they have is a car, and any wheelchair bound person who cannot manage that is out of luck….also you have a hard time booking a trip for when you need to go, since it needs to be at least three weeks out. They *had* two wheelchair accessible vans. No one’s been willing to get those repaired. There are /were also fixed route accessible busses sitting in a lot somewhere, a leftover stimulus purchase from 2009 that *never got used* due to the cuts.

This makes me sick.

There is Rideshare for possible commuting, but again, that’s limited to those who can get into a car.

Cities have community transport vehicles (Avon lake and Avon for example) but we share those resources with seniors, and like Goodwhieels, you have to book a trip at least three weeks out if you have the temerity to use a wheelchair.

In the winter, it’s the worst of all. Made much more homebound by the weather than by our impairments….such a state of body mind and spirit ultimately ends up costing the state more in Medicaid, Medicare or indigent medical dollars because if you’re stuck at home for three months at a time, you might not have the best physical and mental outcomes…

I cannot stress the financial side of this enough. There’ve been studies that indicate that *even* if a person with disabilities is unable to work, the consistent medical follow up, the access to dental and vision care facilities, the mental health benefits of socialization, enough clothes, shoes to get by….the right food…

…end up *saving the state Medicaid dollars in the long run.*

For my part of the county, an accessible dial a ride circulator running three days a week would ease this tremendously….say something that began at Detroit and Abbe linking it to existing LCT routes, , connected up to route 83, served Wal Mart, the library, the Avon Lake Cleveland Clinic Branch, Independence Village, Maximum Accessible Housing of Ohio (Lear and Walker Rd’s) some houses of worship, and the Richard E Jacobs Health Center at 33100 Cleveland Clinic Boulevard (once the Lear Road construction is finished the route would be much more direct….and head out of county to end at Detroit and Crocker and connect up with existing RTA routes without the fruitless attempt to ask Cuyahoga county to recreate a route the’ve cut. Avon and Avon Lake community transport try, but they simply don’t have enough accessible transport space—one van with one spot. And they often have seervices at times when members of the community are unable to use them. If that service could be replaced by a circulator that ran on a every two hours schedule….it would be an amazing start.

LCT should be tweaked just a little to include Sheffield Vistas as a direct stop on their existing routes as well….there wouldn’t be much cost to that, and it would open up access more fully for those residents

There are also senior/disabled facilities up on Lake Rd that could be served….

Where’s the money???

Well first….continue to *repair * roads of course, but please stop beautifying them for awhile and use those funds to help assure some transit access for those of us unable to drive.
In other words, make sure we can all *use* them before you pretty them up.

Second, readjust your thinking. This is not a “want” this is a definite need. If someone sent me a précis of the budget I’d be happy to debate some “want”s Id find in it that are less important than making sure that all of Lorain County’s citizens can get around in Lorain County.

If we are to be able to handle the activities of daily living, fully exercise our rights to freedom of worship and liberty, if liberty means the freedom to move about one’s own life, then that is a job that *someone* has to step up and do.

Spread the word, please, because many of us cannot.
I thank you for your time and attention.

Sincerely,

Jean M. Flynn

Avon Lake

betwixtandbetween@gmail.com

.

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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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Local Paratransit

May 2, 2011 at 10:56 AM (Uncategorized) (, , )

has been scheduled for a necessary medical apt… Yay. It’s stretched thin here, but if I minimize usage to only the medical stuff, it may work out well…

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Paratransit adventures 2010

January 10, 2010 at 4:06 PM (Uncategorized) (, , )

So, I go to Mass today. I lucked out. My favorite Monsignor was doing the homily…the bus got me there on time….but on the way back the bus stopped at the wrong entrance and had to be flagged down by the roommate and then I couldn’t seem to back on to the lift appropriately…

And I actually said “Don’t make me swear I’ve just been to Mass.” (anyone who knows me well knows that trying to keep myself to g rated language is a huge deal…not my usual method.)

And then of course, I said “Dammit” twice before the stupid scooter was correctly set up to back into the van. I’m sure people heard it and were not amused.

So, next time I darken those doors it’ll probably be for confession (or the Sacrament of Reconcilliation as it’s known today.)

Not that I don’t realize it’s a small fry of a sin. But it’ll mollify any complaints that might come the parish office’s way

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What a long strange trip…

December 22, 2009 at 11:03 PM (Uncategorized) (, , , )

So I had to do some business downtown. That required the use of a paratransit bus to get down there since even the roomate and her van don’t work well downtown if you cannot park.

He was a joky fella, very good at the job.

And he didn’t have a problem letting me know which side of the healthcare debate he was on.

I thought, “He’s driving me around town.  I’ll have to be diplomatic. Who knows what he could do…”

How many times do we with impairments have to *think* this thought about caregivers, assistants etc, damnit?  We have to censor what we might normally say or do when we are, effectively, in the care custody and control of an unknown quantity?)

For starters we did agree that if one publically states they have (in their view) “moral” objections, then accepts a payoff to their state and drops their formerly “moral” objection, that made them dishonorable and perhaps unworthy of their office.

But it got harder and harder as details came out.  His pride in attending town hall meetings. “I don’t want healthcare.”    The certainty that the undocumented are here to aggrandize one particular denomination of Christianity.  and more that I’m afraid to detail, but that I consider to be a dangerous worldview.

I’m afraid of this person now.  And afraid for those they may come in contact with.

And, after trying to find common ground, trying to steer the conversation away from controversy with the explanation that, yes, government forces people to buy auto insurance (if they want to drive) all the time…. and that, in an ideal world, health reform asks the question, “Do you want to feel better (in place of “do you want to drive?”)  and live longer?”  You do?  Ok, that’s why the law exists mandating the purchase…(It’s a mess of a bill, godknows but I was just working on getting the basics across…) Getting him to admit that paying a fine and going to the ER was going to cost more than even this patchwork we got…..

I said… regarding health care,  “It’s a right!!!!!”  “It’s a right!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Being as healthy as one can, with appropriate care and follow up… isn’t just for the privileged few. It’s our right.  I had to say it.

“My PCA/Roomate, riding along, said my name in grave concern…she wanted to get our errands done alive after all, so that was a nudge in the direction of discretion.

He, of course, views health care as a fancy handbag, or cufflinks, or lumber  — a piece of goods, not a fundamental right…and on it went.

I then said, “Look, we know we aren’t going to agree on anything….It’s Christmas, so lets wrap this up.”  We did, he dropped us off, and we each wished the other a good day…

Phew.  That was close.

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