Saturday, September 26, 2015

CCPT Dilemma: Reduce Or Eliminate Rural Paratransit

Clinton County Planning Technician James Bosley (standing) refers to a map with dots marking the pickup points for riders using the CCPT rural paratransit service.

© 2015 Luke T. Bush

PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY – Sept. 26, 2015

A person in the disabled community who can’t get to work. A kidney dialysis patient unable to travel to his life-sustaining treatment.

Both live in the countryside with no friends, family or neighbors who can provide a ride. The only option: the CCPT (Clinton County Public Transportation) paratransit service outside the greater Plattsburgh City area.

The county has two choices with this service: reduction or elimination. Due to aging buses breaking down -- half of the fleet out of service for repairs -- the system can’t be maintained as it is now. Paratransit provides service to riders who lived outside the fixed bus routes.

A recent meeting of the Coordinated Transportation – Human Services Committee discussed possible stop gaps so – as County Legislator Harry McManus said – that “no one would fall through the cracks.” Coordinated by James Bosley, Planning Technician and Rodney Brown, Planning Director/ADA Coordinator, various community agency representatives heard and shared proposed solutions.

Clinton County Planning Director Rodney Brown explains
how the CCPT bus fleet ended up in rough shape.

So how did CCPT get into this situation?

That was the question posed by one man sitting in the section reserved for the public.

Ire evident in his tone he said: “How can anyone here accept that fifty percent of the [bus] fleet is down? The industry [average] is six percent.”

Rodney explained the factors. First, the buses had seen a lot of miles. Second, due to the long wait with receiving governmental grants the money can come in after the fleet is in bad shape.

Even with funds available there is still a wait to get a new bus.

Rodney said: “It isn’t like buying a new car.”

Unlike a customer who could buy a car off the dealership lot, he continued, each bus has to be built to particular specifications.

Rodney mentioned how the lack of buses has affected CCPT.

"I had to go out,” he said, “to the bus shelter outside the county building a couple of weeks ago to tell the people waiting for the Ausable run at 4:25 [PM] that we weren’t able to make the run.” That bus was needed for paratransit.

“Ten people,” he continued, ”had to wait until 6:10 for the last bus to Ausable.”

Advocate Debra Buell discusses the rights of the disabled community regarding public transportation.

There was discussion how paratransit service changes would affect the disabled community.

Robert Poulin, Director of NCCI (North Country Center for Independence) said his agency encourages client participation in the community. For some this means holding a job. No transportation to work means job loss.

“When transportation is gone,” he said, “that takes the wind out of the sails. They start to believe there is no point to go back to work [after] surmounting every barrier just to fall back, to start over again.” These clients just give up.

Advocate Debra Buell was also concerned about people in the disability community who lived off the main bus routes. People using the rural paratransit service should be informed about any changes.

She said: “I support the county in partially reducing the [rural paratransit] service until the CCPT system is healthy again.” She favored a partial reduction in service by using flex routes or by scheduling deviations off the fixed routes. Deviations are allowed up to three-quarters of a mile.

Being in ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance has been difficult for CCPT with its rural service, said James, because of the extensive area the system tries to cover.

Referring to a large map of the county he explained there is an ADA regulation that only allows one hour to pick up a patient. But that requirement can’t be met with two riders at the opposite ends of the county; the distances are too great.

One solution might be a zone system, covering part of the county on certain days. Also doctors scheduling patients the same day would help.

These possible solutions and others will be discussed at a public meeting on Tuesday, September 29 from noon to 1 PM, first floor conference room, Clinton County Government Center. Public input is welcome.

1 comment:

Tal Hartsfeld said...

Western society has become so "third world".

Have you ever noticed how "Sisyphean" so many of society's problems are?