According to the News Journal, Dart Para Transit Service Plans to “re-design” the Paratransit route system model that could triple the bus fares for thousands of Delawareans living with disabilities from $2.00-$7.00 one-way. The Department of Transportation is proposing fare increases and re-structuring to improve the efficiency of services for the disabled and to reduce costs. Changes to para-transit proposed:
§ ¾ mile fixed bus route pick-ups
§ 1 hour window pick-up times
§ Seniors >65 years of age will no longer automatically qualify
Transportation Secretary Shailen Bhatt says “the current paratransit model is unsustainable and inefficient. A program that cost $15 million to run in 2000, now costs $50 million – a 233-percent increase in costs. When something increases 233 percent in price, it restricts what you can do elsewhere. For a number of years, we have been wanting to increase fixed-route service. It’s been something we’ve been unable to achieve. We know what the problems are.”
Delaware Transit Corp, Rich Paprcka said, “”Right now, we have no flexibility to negotiate. If someone calls up the day before, and we’re already overbooked -we end up having to put more people on the buses than we want to. That’s part of what’s driving service down. That’s why people are complaining about service being late. We’re just over capacity.”
Why? Because, this a serious public-health issue! According to the News Journal Editorial, “people with disabilities are one of the most undermployed populations in the country ….. being unable to participate in everyday life and meet their personal needs to an even greater extent. There are hundreds of Delawareans who utilize Paratransit just to live a quality of life independently and within the community. Having to wait 1 up to an hour safely alone at a fixed bus route could cost people their jobs and/or the inability to perform activities of daily living. Debra McCann, who sits on the state Developmental Disabilities Council came up with a few solutions. She hopes to see the agency introduce cheaper, smaller vehicles for riders who don’t require wheelchair lifts, and improve communication between dispatchers, drivers and riders. Yes, not all people with disabilities require use of a wheel chair but depend on these essential services to live independently, like Autism, Cerebal Palsey, Sickle Cell Anemia, Rheumatoid Arthritis and ect.
The Delaware Transit Corporation will conduct public hearings through Nov. 6 to gather comments on a proposed Transit Redesign Plan. Each will take place from 4 to 7 p.m.:
* Oct. 29 at the Wilmington Doubletree Hotel, 700 King St., Wilmington, 19801
* Oct. 30 at Delaware Technical Community College, 100 Campus Drive, Dover, 19904
* Nov. 5 at the Cheer Community Center, 20520 Sand Hill Road, Georgetown, 19947
* Nov. 6 at the Embassy Suites, 654 S. College Ave., Newark, 19713.
Comments may be submitted through Nov. 15 to RightFitTransit@state.de.us or to P.O. Box 1670,
Wilm, DE 19899-1670, or online at www.DartFirstSate.com/publichearing
| KYLE GRANTHAM/The News Journal
Do you think the state should increase the bus fare rates for people with disabilities? What kind of solutions do you propose to fill the budget gap for an essential service for Delawareans living with disabilities?