In I Signed up for Paratransit, I described how paratransit is a service offered by local public transit that provides people with disabilities shared ride services within the transit system’s boundaries at a discounted rate. I also described my feelings around the idea that I would have to humiliate myself by downplaying my independence in order to qualify for paratransit.
As the title suggests, I qualified for paratransit yesterday. The interview process wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d been imagining it would be for years. After the interviewer announced he had several questions to ask me, I told him I didn’t intend to use paratransit all the time. I mentioned the lack of sidewalks in parts of the city, the problems I had traveling last winter, and trips, like taking Ufi to the vet or grocery shopping, where I couldn’t use public transit. While I spoke, the person interviewing me didn’t say much. When I was done, he informed me that I would get paratransit. He also reminded me not to use it very often. As I was leaving the office, he once again suggested I should remember to use public transit as often as possible.
His reminders to use public transit upset me, because I made it clear to him that I intended to keep using it. I believe it’s wrong to offer people a government service that’s designed to remedy accessibility problems and then continuously remind people to avoid the service as much as possible. If the government wants us to use public transit all the time, the government should fix the known accessibility issues with public transit and make pedestrian travel more accessible.
Still, I left the meeting with my goal having been accomplished. The process, while far from what it should have been, wasn’t as bad as fear had been leading me to expect. Now, I have a service that will make things a little easier for me. It will also help me do things I currently refrain from doing.
I’m glad this is behind me and I’m looking forward to using paratransit. Tomorrow morning, Ufi and I will take public transit to Fred Meyer so that I can buy the passes I need to use paratransit.