Plan to Testify at Transportation Tax Hearing Today
Members of a growing community coalition of people with disabilities and their advocates plan to testify at the 4 p.m. hearing of the Transportation and Commerce Committee of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen today. Board Bills 51, 52, and 53 which would provide nearly $50 million in transportation tax revenue to Bi-State Development Corporation will be considered in the hearing.
For months now, members of the coalition have been flagging the difficulties they are having finding rides including:
- Frequent denials of rides. Bi-State cites more than eighty unfilled Call-A-Ride operator positions as the cause of this difficulty.
- Call-A-Ride van maintenance is becoming more of an issue where doors, stalls, and breakdowns are resulting in riders having to wait or even travel to the Metro Transit Garages to switch vans and sometimes drivers.
- Inflexible rules punish riders for things that happen that are out of their control.
- There are multiple scheduling difficulties – having to call three days ahead to book trips; long waits to get an answer; denials even after dialing more than 100 times to get an answer. reservation lines being open only 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. when many are at work or on a bus.
- Riders still must pay cash to ride. Having to go to the bank to get the cash needed to ride adds an extra mobility challenge.
Members of the coalition have filed complaints with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and with the U.S. Department of Justice. Metro has received questions from the FTA so an investigation is in process in response to the complaint.
After months of seeking a meeting with the Bi-State Board of Commissioners on June 21, a very limited meeting was held virtually. The Facebook page recording of that meeting is labeled as a meeting with the Community Mobility Committee, not the group that sought and secured the meeting. Apparently Bi-State is confused about which group of passengers had sought the meeting, an issue that could be avoided if face-to-face meetings happened on a frequent basis.
On June 29, Paraquad received a four-page letter from Bi-State CEO Taulby Roach in response to a statement issued by the coalition at a June 22 press conference. On July 6, members of the coalition will be sending their response to Mr. Roach in addition to testifying at the hearing on Board Bills 51, 52, and 53. Copies of the Roach and Paraquad letters may be obtained by contacting Jeanette Mott Oxford at 314-775-3261 or email@example.com.