PROBLEMS WITH ACCESSIBILITY: My good friend Ken was very tired after a full day in the community with his adult day program. As he waited for the arrival of the MTS bus, he couldn’t wait to get home to rest. However, when the bus pulled up, the driver took one look at Ken in his power wheelchair and proclaimed that there was no room on the bus. Ken would have to wait for the next bus. As the bus pulled away, Ken and his staff members were disappointed and also annoyed since they saw empty seats on the bus. Ken prepared to wait again though he was exhausted.
Situations like this have happened to me and other disabled acquaintances. Years ago, one of the staff from my former program told me that a passenger could not be required to give up their seat for a disabled person, even if they were seated in a wheelchair spot, and even if there were other vacant seats. I always thought this was unfair. I thought that a law should be made requiring passengers to first use up all regular seats available on buses before taking the flip-up seats which convert to wheelchair accessible spots. Why should a disabled person ever be denied access to a bus with empty seats?
STRIKE YIELDS POSITIVE OUTCOME FOR DISABLED PEOPLE:
Readers may remember the MTS strike during the week of May 25, 2016. Many disabled people could not go to their programs or jobs for days because of the strike. However, the union did come to an agreement with the drivers and the bus company. Also, at least one other positive benefit was reinforced regarding wheelchair priority seating enforcement. The relatively recent law and company policy reads as follows:
A new state law and MTS policy require passengers to relinquish their seat to seniors and people with disabilities if the seat is located in a wheelchair or priority seating area of the bus or Trolley. These seats and areas are designated by blue signs.
This is not a new law or policy. The regulations simply were not enforced uniformly or else Ken would have gotten his ride that Wednesday. His ride should not depend upon the attitude or laziness of the driver of the moment. Now, violators are subject to fines if the law is not strictly observed.
ACCESSIBILITY FOR DISABLED PEOPLE IMPROVED ON MTS: Thank you to those who followed through by informing lawmakers of this need for change! Thank you to our lawmakers who saw the need to reinforce this law and policy!
For further information regarding accessibility laws or to report a problem, please see the following link: www.sdmts.com/rider-info/accessibility, or call (619) 557-4555.