Published: Mar 12, 2013 07:00 PM
Modified: Mar 12, 2013 05:31 PM
3rd of 3 parts
A question: Shouldnt Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Orange county residents, their elected officials, and UNCs employees (even its voting students) care enough to create equitable transportation rights for all of our areas disabled, rather than primarily for those who are physically and mentally able to work for their living?
Chapel Hill Transit has enlarged the area of its regular and express bus routes to include Chatham and part of Durham counties, serving a growing population of university and hospital employees.
Why do you think I moved to the edges of Chapel Hill? (I live two and one-half houses from town limits which, remember, is not the reason that EZ Rider wont help me.) Housing costs. Orange County cut all housing assistance for the disabled in March 2010. I pay full rent.
This past summer, Chapel Hill Transit and Triangle Transit met to discuss badly needed changes. One idea involved merging CHTs EZ Rider and OPT (the county transit service); since 2006, this idea has been considered but never implemented. A step has been taken: the N.C. Department of Transportation supports one consulter for this merger. Apparently, our federal government approves of the regionalization of paratransit systems, based on studies by the American Disabilities Association!
But, DOT also approved $87,717 in state funds for a study by Chapel Hill Transit concerning the expansion of the Eubanks Park and Ride station. The funds were a required state-match of federal funds, which total $877,182. These funds will determine whether CHT purchases extra property or builds a parking lot at the Eubanks site.
Thats as much as OPTs entire yearly operating budget! Nothing for OPT
With the last election Orange County joined Durham County in approving a light rail line between Chapel Hill and Durham. Obvious benefactors are UNC and Duke University and their hospitals and outlying clinics; of course, economic growth would increase near its stations.
Neither in the summer of 2012 nor in our November elections did OPT receive any help to improve its services for the disabled.
I wrote about these issues, and sent my thoughts to every elected, public official in the county. Ive received two responses: one positive and compassionate; the other, not.
I promise myself and those who cant speak for themselves to inform our public about the continuing, inhumane and unethical inequities of our areas transportation service for the disabled.
Who asks to be or become disabled? For over two years, Ive struggled to survive and become healthier. The services I need and deserve (and paid into) are being cut. We the disabled are disenfranchised, isolated, ignored. Why?
You or a loved one could become disabled today.
Do you want creative, caring, courageous people as our elected public officials, leaders who will acknowledge and address our existing transportation problems. We need leaders who will include the disabled as the deserving members of our community that they are.
I was lucky this past week a disabled friend drove me to three places, among them the grocery store, where I bought perishables. We celebrated by having coffee I bought.
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be published, broadcast or redistributed in any manner.