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Archive for Friday, September 19, 2008

Blind residents support T funds

September 19, 2008

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We strongly urge our fellow Lawrencians to vote "yes" on measures 2 and 3, on the Lawrence ballot in November. We respectfully ask for your support, knowing that improvements must be made to the system. Independence and freedom are very important to your blind neighbors, as they are to everyone; a well-designed fixed-route bus system promotes our independence and freedom.

The T's fixed-route bus system is available to everyone in Lawrence. The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) encourages blind people to use fixed-route buses whenever possible. This column presents the opinion of the membership of the Douglas County Area Chapter of the NFB; we are the blind speaking for ourselves. We include persons with low-vision, complete vision loss, people interested in blindness, and parents of blind children. Our chapter feels very intensely about this issue; we were the first independent organization to join the campaign Vote Yes for Transit.

If ballot Question 2 fails, there will be no fixed-route system left, and paratransit in Lawrence will become quite minimal. There will be no system to improve. Question 3 on the ballot is equally important, because it provides money for vital route and schedule upgrades. The fixed-route system must become much more user-friendly for all riders, so more people find the bus convenient. Ballot Questions 2 and 3 propose small sales tax increases with a huge impact on your blind neighbors.

Blind Lawrencians have these options for getting from one place to another: walking; catching rides; taxis; paratransit; and fixed-route buses. This column is too brief to detail the shortcomings of the first three options, except to note that much of Lawrence is indeed tricky for walking by any pedestrians - blind or sighted. Paratransit is door-to-door prescheduled transportation for people with disabilities. The paratransit schedule limits our usage, and it must be booked in advance. If the fixed-route system ceases to operate, federal funds for the paratransit also stop. The federal legislation ties them together. And, under that situation, Lawrence would be forced to sell its federally funded buses.

We use and appreciate paratransit. But it certainly doesn't meet all of the needs of active blind people for transportation.

As we have expressed twice in City Commission comments, "we use both, paratransit and the fixed-route. We need both."

The fixed-route system allows greater freedom of choice, and spontaneity for our travel. If you drive a car, you know you can go when you choose. We desire the same independence and freedom of travel. Our national organization recognizes that we can use fixed-route buses when we choose, as often as we choose. It is the most independent travel we have beyond walking.

We work, attend school, shop, pay taxes and live our lives much like others in Lawrence. Our national organization has been fighting for our freedom and independence for 60 years. Nationally, 70 percent of us are either unemployed or underemployed. Frequently, transportation barriers prevent us from working.

If one of us meets a friend in downtown Lawrence, for example, it is very good to be able to have dinner on the spur of the moment. Whether work or leisure, freedom of travel is very important; it allows us greater equality with our fellow citizens of Lawrence.

Thank you for reading our column. We hope you will carefully consider voting in favor of ballot Questions 2 and 3. The future of an improved transit shapes the future for blind citizens of Lawrence.

- Jim Canaday is vice president of the Douglas County Area Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, and wrote this column with the unanimous support of that group.

Comments

bearded_gnome 5 years, 11 months ago

okay OTTR,try this:for one week, every time you think of getting into a motor vehicle call a taxi. wait for them. pay for them. taxis are important and private business doing the best they can here, but taxis fail for every-day transportation. just try what I said, and your attitude will change. Hawk, try rereading the column. right at the top he says changes have to be made in the current system! your comments are certainly not news! Canaday spoke to the city commission, you can probably see those via the commission's website.
and, I'm the first to say, and you've seen my comments before, that this city is wasting money! there's a lot of money being frivveled away. I have posted before that the real source of the T's problem is the city's overall budget issues. however, sales tax makes certain these funds stay with transit instead of being swallowed by the main city budget as went the "Transit Levy" property tax that was originally supposed to fund this!

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bearded_gnome 5 years, 11 months ago

OTTR,you are so enlightened! hit the reset button! info posted on these threads by Hawk recently about taxis in Lawrence has been completely false/out of date. and, are you implying that blind people don't have the freedom or respect to represent their own views on this topic?

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sjschlag 5 years, 11 months ago

By all accounts, both sales taxes should be enough to keep the system running. I would suggest that any fare increases be post poned until system improvements are complete and the T is a more usable service. There is no doubt that people will pay more to ride the bus, as long as riding the bus is cheaper and more convenient (sales tax issues aside) than driving a car or hailing a taxi. Also, what about the free rides that the city gives to KU students? Surely KU should re-imburse the city for the lost/new fare revenue from KU students? The merger sounds like a good idea, but what Mr. Dever and Co. don't know about the merger is that the T reaps none of the benefits, while KU recieves $300,000 a year in cost savings. Sound fair to you? They keep saying we get to report improved ridership numbers and receive more FTA funding, but will the funding be enough to offset the lost revenue from KU students? Our bus system needs all the help and extra cash it can get, but it sounds to me like KU is sucking us dry.

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Lulu 5 years, 11 months ago

Those blind people are correct in supporting our wonderful bus system. Please vote Yes to alow this bus line for those blind people and the homelless and people who don't drive or can't ride there bikes when it rains or snows. I have not rid the bus yet but expect they accept animals and their owners.

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bearded_gnome 5 years, 11 months ago

nicely done "Notholroyd!" he is really a plague on these comment threads. there has to be major changes made to the fixed-route: put buses on a 30-minute or 60-minute schedule so every time at the same time each hour or half hour, your bus goes by your stop! very simple, very powerful!decentralize so if you're going from one corner of Lawrence you don't have to ride all the way into downtown to hub with another outbound bus. we need buses on major streets, and a few that start downtown, like 6th street and 9th street buses, the north lawrence bus, and a mass st. bus!* but you take a bus from way out on 6th, then catch the "iowa" bus at 6th and iowa, and take it down to Wal-mart, much faster than current schedule. just these two changes would increase ridership incredibly.

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bearded_gnome 5 years, 11 months ago

I'm not even going to respond to Hawk anymore after this! anybody reading his posts should note that he consistently posts info full of misinformation. larry,you're right about the bums. however a taxi-voucher system doesn't cut it for transit...try rereading the text above these comments, maybe for the first time!I found that in his earlier comments Hawk stated Canaday's comments correctly, but purposely omitted his other comments supporting the sales tax, the need to keep the system going flaws and all. schlag,the nice thing about question #3 is it will provide the opportunity for changes to the fixed-route system pretty quick. too many buses are running empty, or nearly so. we must be honest; but that reflects the poor design of the system, not lack of demand.

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bearded_gnome 5 years, 11 months ago

banned(Anonymous)says:I bet they didn't see the bus coming.---a joke? what an example of unPC humor from a liberal. sad.

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bearded_gnome 5 years, 11 months ago

I have not rid the bus yet but expect they accept animals and their owners.---is Lulu for real? is she referring to herself as an animal?

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