Part Two of the Blind See Red
I am pleased to report to readers of “The Little Red Book” that the unfortunate lady with cancer who had her medical vouchers cancelled has gotten them restored. No one at Cap Metro is willing to admit to us who cancelled her vouchers or when this action was taken. One wonders, however, if her case had not come to our attention, would anything have been done? Moreover, how many STS users we don’t know of are having the same issues?
We may all be in the same boat some day because the Access Committee was recently informed that the goal of Cap metro is to eliminate the voucher program altogether as soon as they can work out how to do it. This is nuts! Even Metro admits that it’s cheaper to use cabs for trips that don’t require wheel chair lifts, and they can’t even handle the current requests for rides on the STS vehicles they operate. How in hell can we expect them to handle ten thousand or more additional trips each month? I predict Austenites will be forced to confront the awful spectacle of hundreds of sick, blind and elderly STS riders risking their lives trying to take regular fixed route buses or begging for rides from people they don’t know. How long will it take for some tragic event to occur? Already, we are seeing more Hybrid cars, silent as sharks, prowling Austin streets. Recently, according to NFB’s, Gary Wonder, a blind man in California was almost killed when one of these hybrid cars started to run him down as he was crossing a street. Thank God the man had a dog guide who saved his life by refusing to cross on command. Now we want to encourage hybrid cars, but until we get the auto industry to adopt measures that will allow us to hear them, more blind people will need to take cabs.
Some of my friends in ACB have asked me why we don’t go to the press with our concerns. My response is that we have attended all the public hearings Cap Metro has held about the voucher program and STS, but for whatever reason, the reporter did not meet with either ACB Reps or NFB Reps. Instead, quotes from Cap Metro dominate the coverage. Perhaps the reporter is confused because Nancy Crowther, Metro’s so- called Accessible Transportation Specialist,
is in a wheel chair and can see to zero in on the reporter. I know when I attended the UT School of Journalism, we were trained to seek out all sides of an issue. This is particularly important when a reporter is confronted with complex issues and the government has all the PR resources to make sure the coverage has the spin they want.
We must make our concerns known to the local media. We can’t let Metro con the public any longer. Stay tuned to the Little Red Book for further developments.
Regards, Chairman Mal
Power to the Peeps!
Afterward: On 17 February, the Austin Chapter of the NFB held its monthly meeting at which a standing committee on Transportation was established. Our primary focus will be to advocate for greater accessibility to fixed rout Cap Metro buses with innovations such as audible signs, and protecting our members that depend on the STS program. Other issues regarding the problem with hybrid cars and appropriate use of audible traffic signals will be handled by our national organization. We hope to have a collaborative rather than an adversarial relationship with Cap Metro. As one member of the Transportation Committee, however, I can say that we will not be muzzled or ignored by the Access Committee. If I have anything to say about it, we will take our concerns directly to the Cap Metro Board. We are weary of the games being played with Access and refuse to play on the Access Merry Go Round any longer.