Disabled complain about transit system - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Disabled complain about transit system

November 7, 2006

Albany - For most of us, it's hard enough running daily errands. We have to wait in line, wait in traffic, wait on doctor results. But just imagine you were disabled and had to wait on a bus, just to wait to take care of those things. Sound frustrating? It is.  

It takes Sandra Ausburn long enough to get from place to place. She's legally blind, and has to use a walking stick just to find her way around. When she needs to run an errand, or make an appearance, like today's City Commission meeting, she counts on Albany Paratransit, but says they're not always reliable.  She says, "When it comes down to the point where you've got to sacrifice, that's where there's an issue."

She says she's had to wait hours on the bus before because of shift change. "They need to find a way to deal with this because people are sitting out there waiting."

Max Parker, President of the National Federation of the Blind in Southwest Georgia, says the buses used to transport the disabled, aren't up to par.  He says, "The main problem is the older buses and not picking people up on time and when the older buses break down, you'll be sitting there for hours waiting to get a ride somewhere."

City Manager Alfred Lott says he's looking into the complaints.  He says, "I'm concerned that there is a higher expectation from certain disabled Albany citizens who use our para transit and regular transit system than our ability to deliver."

And having services delivered costs quite a bit more for those who use the para system. Regular bus fare is $1 each way. For those using para, it's $2 each way. A $4 trip is a lot of money for someone on a fixed income. "It may be a little higher," Lott says, "but you understand their service is different. As opposed to somebody standing on the corner or on the sidewalk and catching a bus, we come to their house, pick them up, take them to a Doctor's appointment, go to that Doctor's appointment, pick them up and bring them back."

A price they realize they may have to pay, but Max says it's important that they get what they pay for.  He says, "The disabled of Albany rely heavily on the transit system." The director of Albany public transit informed Max Parker that she plans to look into mechanical problems with the buses and see what can be done about reducing the wait time.

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