Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Paratransit Meeting Held Today

Kansis City, MO--The Kansas City Area Transit Authority (KCATA) hosted a meeting for everyone involved with Veolia/Share A Fare's services. After Mr. Rick Levitt Mr. Mark Huffer, and Ms. Sharon Bryant, et al presented the accommodations and a accomplishments Share A Fare has made with its new technology, we the riders had our chance to ask many questions.

AReas covered included drive etiquette, poor customer service on the phone, missed and late rides, and poor scheduling. For more information as to the actual discussion and quotations spoken, please see me, David Rosenkoetter, when I have a chance to make and edit a complete, printed transcript of the meeting.

From virtually the back of the room, I heard everything that both sides presented. I am thankful for the cordial conversations which I have had with KCATA and Veolia personnel and hope to have with them in the future. However, no one can overlook the manner in which those same administrators put up their teflon shields. Without a doubt, they had read and conferenced about the concerns which I, along with other Progressive members, sent them in the previous few days

In my humble estimation Share A Fare/Veolia played dodge ball today with regard to the serious concerns we presented.

It is unexcusable how a driver did not let one of our members ride because he had a guide dog. Given the opportunity to view the camera shots of that incident, I can guarantee that driver was simply uncomfortable with dogs and let her panic take priority over common sense and guide dog access laws. Yet, in no way, should we approach this incident as a "one-time occurrence" as Mr. Brad Wittle so called it in our meeting today.

In addition, we cannot just let the KCATA tell us an email address will come available for us to use when ordering trips. It may help a bit, clearing up a few phone lines. However, the email address sounds to me like a practice of covering up what otherwise is Share A Fare's undeniable ilpreparedness as of January 1, 2009.

The mission of ACB was clearly in our words and passion this morning. We were there to improve our independence, quality of life, and equality of opportunity. We pointed out time and again how late or neglected rides make us stand out. We declared how incidences such as happened at Union Station and at the Herndon residence hurt, not help, our image in the public. We are not victims. W do not simply want handouts. Our desire is for respect and to be treated eqully and to have the same benefits of life as do our sighted counterparts.

I guess, normalcy--as it is--has no definition on paper. No paratransit manual can codify our desire for eye-to-eye interactions with society on mutual terms. The issues we face in regard to Share A Fare Veolia will not go away by virtue of the system improving. Better training for drivers with regard to guide dog awareness, courtesy, adaptibility and timeliness will need to take place for drivers.

As members of Progressive Council for the Blind, we have the responsiblity, along with PAWS--the Paratransit Advocacy Watchdog Service, to keep an eye on KCATA's activity. Not that we want to suspect everything around each corner, but we do realize the challenge that paratransit inequities have dished out to us who simply desire real independence in mainstream society.

No comments: