|A CCPT proposal to shift paratransit riders to fixed bus routes, |
say advocates, will result in more delays for everyone.
PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY -- May 17, 2017
© 2017 Luke T. Bush
Advocate Patti King personally fears the proposed elimination of the Clinton County Public Transit (CCPT) paratransit service might lead to an unfair backlash against the local disabled community.
Presently the public bus service operates fixed routes and a paratransit service for the disabled. The fixed routes – city and rural – run on a timed schedule. The paratransit service is flexible, allowing door to door service.
CCPT is putting forth a proposal to eliminate the paratransit service and have all riders use the fixed route system. To help the disabled CCPT will allow deviations from the fixed routes up to ¾ of a mile.
Fixed route buses have lifts for riders using a wheelchair or walker. The city service has to maintain a schedule, one hour to complete each route. When a disabled rider is picked up it takes time to get that person on and off the bus. Wheelchair users must be strapped in, adding additional time.
Serving as a board member for the North Country Center for Independence Patti attended a meeting last Friday at NCCI for advocates and country officials to discuss the proposal. The meeting ran on for over two and a half hours, each side trying to make its point.
Clinton County Planning Director Rodney Brown who also serves as the county ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Coordinator said the county is running deep into the red due to cutbacks in Medicaid reimbursements for paratransit. The proposal would help to cut costs.
Patti and other advocates contend the change is impractical. There will be too many delays with the additional riders from the eliminated paratransit service using the fixed routes.
In the past there have been incidents where able-bodied riders complained about the delays to accommodate people in the disabled community.
“That’s an ignorant uninformed attitude,” says Patti. She fears that such an attitude will grow, able-bodied riders upset with even more delays after paratransit is shut down. “The disabled could endure the toughest part of the backlash.”
“We [advocates for the disabled] made it unyieldingly clear at the meeting we don’t support the change,” Patti says. She thought the system would probably implode from the chaos.
Advocates persisted during the meeting, pressing their points. Patti says her side was able to influence county officials to agree to a three month trial period with the new system. “We wanted enough time to have the evidence it won’t work.”
She worries when the new system fails it could be an excuse for the county to shut down the entire service.
Two meetings will be held at the Clinton County Government Center first floor conference room to explain the proposal. The first on June 5th is open to the public, scheduled for 10 AM to 12 noon, and the public can be involved in the discussion. The second meeting on June 6th , also from 10 AM to 12 noon, is for agencies affected by the change. The public can attend but won’t be allowed to participate in the discussion.