Monday, May 18, 2009

Access Bus is a lifeline for disabled Kingstonians

This letter was published in the Kingston Whig Standard on Saturday but I almost missed it because of the way it was displayed on the web site. I didn't realize the heading for bottled water was hiding a letter about the Access Bus strike.

Therefore I am going to copy and paste it here to make it stand out while making it clear that FULL CREDIT is to go to the Kingston Whig Standard and the person who wrote the Letter to the Editor, Sarah Lovell. The link to the source article is:

Here is the letter:

Access Bus is a lifeline for disabled Kingstonians

I am dismayed that thousands of Kingston's disabled residents are without transportation as the Access Bus strike extends into its second month. Reliance on the Kingston Access Bus is not a choice for many members of the city's disabled population who are unable to use the city's bus service or taxis due to either accessibility or financial constraints.

In 2007, while living in Kingston, I was involved in research the Council on Aging and the Weller community group carried out with Access Bus users to discuss their experiences with the service. Focus groups with users found that, overwhelmingly, participants used the bus for the everyday necessities of life such as grocery shopping and attending doctors' appointments and meetings. Participants' quality of life was very much contingent on the availability of the bus.

The Access Bus users were universally grateful for the service. However, funding constraints mean the Access Bus does not afford users the same opportunities to participate in society as their able-bodied counterparts. The limited availability of buses and demand for bookings were found to make spontaneous journeys unlikely. Few available buses in the evenings made attending social activities so complicated participants usually didn't bother, and participants endured long waits (often in the cold) for callbacks on buses after attending medical appointments.

The Kingston Access Bus, city council and the workers must remember that the Access Bus is the only lifeline to their community many Kingston residents have and need to reach a resolution to the strike as quickly as possible. Once the strike has been resolved, the city must recognize that there is more to life than attending medical appointments, and look to improve a service that is severely constraining the opportunities for disabled Kingstonians to participate in their own community.

Sarah Lovell
Dunedin, New Zealand
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