A focus on getting around

We’ve been closely following what is happening in Minneapolis and statewide with disability-related transportation issues. We’ll have a short update […]

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We’ve been closely following what is happening in Minneapolis and statewide with disability-related transportation issues. We’ll have a short update with our legislative coverage in the May issue. Disability transportation in general is also our editorial focus for May.

Statewide, we face a huge crisis with transportation. Paratransit and ride providers in Greater Minnesota do amazing work but there are not enough of them. A lot of us cannot get to our medical appointments, do needed shopping or just get around.

In areas served by Uber and Lyft, there continues to be controversy over what pay should be. In Minneapolis the City Council delayed imposing higher wages until July 1. But those larger providers are still leaving that city. Drivers are already being notified that they are losing access to programs that provide higher education, and their work centers are closing.

Many advocates had hoped this would be the session when we get the transportation network companies or TNCs to provide accessible vehicles, as they have managed to skirt the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The Minnesota Council on Disability and its allies have put much time into law changes affecting TNCs, to have some wheelchair and scooter-accessible vehicles available.

But it looks like a grant program to study what are called WAVs has stalled this session. And that is really frustrating,

I lived in Greater Minnesota and for a time in recent years, spent many weekends in rural Iowa. If I had not had my own vehicle, I could not have gotten anywhere.

It didn’t used to be that way. I even remember when a Greyhound bus would stop on Highway 69 a mile from our family farm. I’d walk a couple miles with my suitcase to get home for college break. That would be just a wish for me now.

So many of our options have been cut. There are fewer bus routes between cities. Bus routes in metro areas are just starting to come back.

Today, I consider calling a cab or TNC from time to time but wonder about access. I can use several fingers to count off the cab companies that are gone.

I am fortunate to be able to still board a Metro Transit bus but sometimes have to stand there and give the driver a sad look before the step is lowered for me.

Read the May paper, in print and online, and learn more about what is happening with transit. Paratransit and the long fight to get it 50 years ago, is this month’s History Note.

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