Monday, December 29, 2014

Merry Christmas: Lumps of COAL for Metro

RantWoman ordinarily is a HUGE fan of Metro and in general of public transit in the Puget Sound. This week Metro has earned two BIG lumps of coal. Both are still evolving. RantWoman emphasizes that she is speaking for herself not say in her real life guise as chair of the WA Council of the Blind Environmental Access Committee. RantWoman needs to deliver the lumps of coal anyway.
Christmas Tree at RantMom's

The first lump of coal relates to an esoteric discussion about whether a scheduled trip booked through ACCESS is or is not a regular ADA paratransit trip. RantWoman and neighbors say it should be; Metro and First Transit currently say it is not. This problem affects only a small number of ACCESS riders.  RantWoman does not really expect blog readers to help sort it out and will happily rescind the lump of coal if email resolves the conflict but does feel a need to stand firm about not just summarily classifying something as "special service."

The second lump of coal relates to the following two news stories about two articulate professionally employed blind people who apparently were refused service on a Metro bus on Sunday afternoon on Capital Hill.

Full disclosure: RantWoman knows the couple in the story. RantWoman would like to know whether other blind people have also been refused service but not felt able to speak up or not known who to speak to. RantWoman also rides the bus a lot and has enough vision to be aware of a number of possibilities which perhaps justify reporters asking to interview the driver or other passengers.

When blind passengers or other people who obviously might use the courtesy section board the bus, drivers are supposed to ask for seats in the courtesy section. Courtesy section is the term of art for what RantWoman sometimes colloquially refers to as, please forgive RantWoman the South Park allusion, the "crip fights section." Some drivers are more comfortable asking for this than others. That is a driver training and encouragement issue; RantWoman would definitely urge Metro to deal with that.

But sometimes the courtesy section is full with wheelchairs, strollers, walkers, shopping carts. In that case, RantWoman has seen drivers tell passengers they need to wait for the next bus. In this case though, since the couple could sit in regular seating, the driver could have asked someone in the seats behind the courtesy section to move. RantWoman really prefers to ride facing forward and will sometimes balance ease of getting off a crowded bus against her preference to face forward.

RantWoman can also stand and knows the couple in the story can both stand. RantWoman sometimes finds a place to stand by holding onto the overhead bar and moving back, though aisles also get crowded with bags, backpacks, other encumbrances. RantWoman would say passengers and drivers vary a lot in ability to give meaningful directions about finiding an empty space; RantWoman will tend to look for space near one of the back doors. Sometimes RantWoman also just stands in the courtesy section, but this is less than optimal because of other people needing to get on and off the bus.

Anyway, RantWoman extends sincere wishes for better communications to resolve this problem and also appreciation of the hassles as ridership climbs and buses become more consistently overcrowded.

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