The Engineering for Human Rights Initiative and the Aging Research Interest Group of the Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention and Policy at the University of Connecticut hosted a conversation over Webex yesterday. The event titled “Conversation on The Transportation Challenges and Opportunities for People with Disabilities and Aging Population in Connecticut’’ discussed transportation access for those who are elderly and disabled.
“My concern is the 30 or 40 thousand individuals in Connecticut who live with developmental disabilities of all ages and can’t drive,” Walter Glomb, executive director of the Connecticut Council on Developmental Disabilities, said when talking about people who have a hard time accessing transportation.
“One of the Problems with Connecticut is the absence of a county government.”
He went on to mention a service called Freedom Ride. This is a service that allows disabled riders to get a 50% discount on taxi rides with a minimum purchase of $25. In order to use this service, riders must use a card that is issued by the state. According to Glomb, if a taxi system does not have a matching credit card system to the one the state of Connecticut has, passengers would not be able to use their card on said taxi system.
Glomb is hoping that the main type of transportation for disabled and elderly individuals in the future will be automated vehicles. He estimates that it will take 20 to 50 years to fully implement this.
“One of the problems with Connecticut is the absence of county government,” Toni Moran, mayor of Mansfield, said when talking about accessible transportation in towns like Mansfield.
Moran cited one Mansfield’s transportation struggles as the lack of reliable routes to surrounding hospitals that do not involve owning a car. A service that is available to residents in Mansfield is Dial-A-Ride, which is a ride-sharing sponsored by the Windham Region Transit District.
The service is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., not including holidays.
“We want to get beyond just thinking of the Americans with Disabilities Act as enough,” Terry Berthelot, assistant professor of human development and family sciences at UConn said, calling out places like UConn who follow the bare minimum standards of the ADA for students with disabilities.
“We want to go beyond just thinking of the americans with disabilities act as enough.”
Specifically, Berthelot was responding to a situation in which a disabled student on campus had a hard time getting to his class because he was in a wheelchair and there was a ramp that did not have the snow cleared.
“That was a really big concern for me, the fact that it was such a blind spot of thought process,” an anonymous disabled student said, speaking about their experience trying to get to class when snow was not properly cleared off of ramps.
For more information regarding disability services on campus, visit the Center for Students with Disabilities website for more information.
Correction: A statement previously provided by one of the presenters that a rider must book two weeks in advance was incorrect. Rides are booked between a day and two weeks in advance. The incorrect statement has been removed from the article.