In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed to prohibit “discrimination and ensure equal opportunity and access for persons with disabilities.” As the “Closer Look” series, “Gridlocked: What’s Moving Atlanta?” continues we speak to a roundtable of local advocates for a conversation about paratransit services and the state of accessible transportation options for those with disabilities.
David Furukawa, an advocate for the visually impaired; Jordan Hall, Mobility Coordinator for Statewide Independent Living Council; and Adam Hinchliffe, Manager of Executive Affairs for the Center for the Visually Impaired; joined the show to talk about these issues.
On inclusion for all within public transit:
“On the surface, there’s always plans on paper that says we’re going to be all-inclusive for all transit customers,” Hinchliffe said. ” In reality, I think, people with disabilities, especially those people who experience different levels of vision loss, may have a very different experience when riding different modes of transit.”
“Typically when people are assessing the safety of something they’ll think about one disability or one factor, or they’ll think specifically about visual impairment or a wheelchair user,” Hall said. “There [are] some individuals with disabilities that have both those issues or more.”
“Fortunately public transportation is starting to get on board with safety and accessibility,” Furukawa said. “So, yes, I think, it’s on the move, but there’s still room for a lot more improvement.”
On primary modes of public transit
“I use MARTA. I use the fixed rail route, and I occasionally use paratransit,” said Hall. “The issue with paratransit is the lack of reliability. [In the past] I have booked a paratransit trip and been waiting three hours.“
“Now that I’m retired I used rideshare almost exclusively,” Furukawa said. “It’s actually very surprising how much grief I’ve gotten, in terms of denial of service, due to [my guide dog] Samson both from taxi cabs and rideshare.”
“I utilize MARTA’s fixed rail service, when the rail system doesn’t go where I need to I will utilize ridesharing,” Hinchliffe said. “I would love to begin using the fixed-route bus system, but with issues finding the bus stops it’s quite difficult, so I’m pretty limited to just using the trains right now.”