CARLISLE—Capital Area Transport provides shared service for parts of the Cumberland County’s disabled community. For many of them, the mass transit is the only way to get to work, doctor’s offices or just around the Midstate.
But according to representatives from the Center for Independent Living in Camp Hill, CAT is not meeting the demands of the community.
“Just because we have a disability doesn’t mean our employers don’t hold us to the same standard, and we expect that,” Pam Auer, director at the Center for Independent Living in Camp Hill, said during Wednesday’s Cumberland County commissioners’ finance meeting.
During the meeting Auer and members from the advocacy group, Wheels in Motion, told stories about how disabled riders using CAT shared-ride services were left waiting or were not picked up at all.
Auer said on one occasion a rider, who had not been picked up from the center, was marked as on the bus and had to wait for another bus to be sent to the location because of the mistake.
Another rider, Auer said, typically rides an hour and a half each way between Camp Hill and Middletown to get to work.
“This is a primary concern for people with disabilities, because it is how you get anywhere in the community,” Auer said. “... We should be valued.”
Cumberland County currently provides its own shared-ride service to much of the county. Beginning July 1 of this year, Rabbit Transit took over operation of the service.
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However, a portion of the paratransit riders are not currently able to be picked up by the county’s program, according to Chief Clerk Larry Thomas.
He said that anyone living within three quarters of a mile from a fixed route bus service using the shared ride service covered under the American’s With Disabilities Act must use shared-ride service from the fixed-route provider. In Cumberland County’s case that provider is CAT.
CAT provided about 33,000 ADA trips last fiscal year, with many of those rides being in Cumberland County or were for county residents, according Mike Clapsadl, county representative for the CAT board of directors.
Wednesday’s meeting largely centered on the sharing of concerns and apprising the commissioners of the situation.
“We should be valued more as riders, as people with disabilities,” Auer said. “Yeah, we are able to get on the bus, but we’re getting there late if we’re getting there late.
“We said where do we go from here,” she added. “We know what (change) should look like, but where do we go from here? ... We want the voice. We want to be able to make real systems change.”
A representative with CAT was not immediately available for comment.