NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Wednesday December 11th 2019

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Transit Transit: Accessibility – a personal perspective

By JOHN CHARLES WILSON

There really isn’t any transit news to speak of in the Phillips neighbourhood this month, so I am going to write on a more personal, but transit-related, topic.

If Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory rode the bus, he could be me. Since the age of 17, I have been considered by society to be mentally ill. Since my fanaticism about public transit is a part of my mental state, for years I lived in the irony of having a disability that, rather than impairing my ability to use transit on an equal basis with the general public, gave me an advantage over the average user because I know all the arcane details about how the system worked.

Unfortunately, for the last few years, I have had back pain which has limited my ability to stand or walk for long periods of time without sitting down. My tolerable standing/walking time has gradually shrunk to where travel by bus is now a serious pain (pun intended).

Whereas I used to think in terms of efficiency for the average customer, I now see the wisdom of transit taking into account its less-mobile users. Moving bus routes farther apart and bus stops farther apart along those routes may be technically more efficient, but it leaves out many would-be riders.

I am probably eligible for Metro Mobility at this point, but even though it takes you door-to-door, it has the disadvantages of requiring advance reservations and being so expensive for Metro Transit to provide that it is cutting into their ability to provide regular fixed-route bus services.

The idea of maintaining routes with frequent stops overlaid by Bus Rapid Transit for those able to walk a few blocks is probably the best solution to making everybody happy: a close ride for those who need it, and a fast ride for those for whom speed would be more useful. I definitely am now among those who actually ride buses like the 16 and the 84, when in the past I would have used the Green Line or the A Line instead.

I now seethe every time I see a bus stop without a bench, or a big box store or a mall where the bus stop is far from the entrance. This is a literal cruelty to a certain percentage of the public.

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