Friday, March 28, 2008

Cap Metro Attempts to Roll Over STS Passengers

Howdy Comrades!

Events in Austin have moved rapidly since my last post about Cap Metro's power play to crush the opinions of Access members in order to implement a bare bones Para-transit service for the Austin area.  Inez Evans sparked the controversy last month when she made a rare appearance at the Access STS Subcommittee meeting.  Ignoring the opinions and needs of STS passengers, she presented a plan that will eliminate the very successful taxi voucher program, a program many depend upon to get to and from work, return from dialysis treatments, the pharmacy and other trips that require flexible return times.  As a consequence, the Texas Civil Rights project filed a lawsuit in State Court and obtained a temporary restraining order because Metro had skipped the required public hearings before such draconian changes could be made.  Metro appealed the judge's decision to federal court.  A federal judge set a hearing for mid May.  Meantime, Metro staff paid about $27,000.00 to the Texas Citizen's Fund to conduct so-called focus group meetings, attempting to bill them as public hearings.  When it became clear to staff that this idea would not fly, a public hearing. was scheduled for April 15.  Following is email sent to the Access Google group about this hearing.


Friends of Access,

I agree with Judy that this hearing seems to once again shut out input from

Access.  It is ironic, to say the least, that the hearing is scheduled for

4/15, the deadline for filing federal income tax returns.  I also agree with

ADAPT that the "devil is in the details."  The problem Access has

encountered has been in getting accurate details from staff.  At this point,

we must take any facts and figures given to us by staff with a grain of

salt.  Hand me a salt shaker, already!  We do know that Cap Metro has spent

a phenomenal sum by purchasing the most technically advanced train from

Europe for the rather limited commuter rail project.  We also know that Cap

Metro provides personal limousines for sighted drivers who carpool where

buses aren't available.  I believe the charge is just 25 bucks a month for

that service.  The editorial in the Statesman says that Cap metro must

constrain compassion with frugality in funding the special Transit Program.

I really can't fathom how anyone can use the terms "Cap Metro" and

"frugality" in the same sentence without laughing out loud.  The disability

community has a right to demand a Special Transit service that is second to

none based on what Metro is willing to spend on its pet projects.  I won't

be available on Saturday because I am a delegate to the Travis county

Democratic Convention.  I will, however, keep in touch.  Finally, I want to

express my profound sadness for the death of John Slatin, a gifted poet and

role model for many blind people.


Malcolm Graham

Access Member

Chair, ATC/NFB Transportation Committee

----- Original Message -----

From: "Judy W" <>

To: "


. Com" <>

Sent: Friday, March 28, 2008 6:53 AM

Subject: board hearing at Criss cole




> Nancy Crowther confirmed the room at Criss Cole according to staff to co

> host the meeting with the Mayor's committee. Why do some staff and board

> members wonder why there is a lack of trust in some Metro staff. Tina Bui

> of

> governmental relations called me to discuss this matter and I let her know

> that if the access committee was bypassed once again I couldn't be

> responsible for committee responses or resolutions. I think Malcolm was

> considering dealing with our laiaison problem in some way, but he can

> speak

> for himself. The board hasn't even decided when or if all of them can come

> to the public hearing on April 15. Again, this was not Ron's fault. He was

> approached by Nancy Crowther. These are the facts as I have obtained them

> from the Mayor's committee, Criss Cole, and metro staff.


> Please call all friends and political organizations to have people at the

> board meeting. I will be unavailable on Saturday and Sunday. I have a

> funeral on

> Sunday. John Slatin, a champion of access, passed away this week.


> Judy

--I apologize that I failed to take the time to reformat the email, but I am under very tight deadlines with respect to other matters.  Stay tuned to the Little Red Book for Future updates on this exploding issue.


Chairman Mal

Power to the Peeps!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Cap Metro in Federal Court



Cap Metro in Federal Court!

. . . And the axe man cometh!

Howdy Comrades!

Much as happened recently with the blind community here in Central Texas since I last wrote about the mendacious bunch of bean counting incompetents.  Metro now finds itself in federal court because a new STS Director decided to screw over the community, slashing services to the most vulnerable citizens here in Austin without due process, skipping all those annoying little matters such as public hearings.  Ho! Hum!  Consequently the Texas Civil Rights Project was forced to take them to Court.  Its likely Metro will have spend more money getting out of this messs than they would have had the legal process been followed.  Following is a document authored by a fellow traveler, so to speak, that provides some insights into this tragicomic situation: T

His document contains a response concerning the proposed cuts in the taxi voucher program. I want everyone who is unfamiliar with this program to understand what Cap Metro is attempting to do.


Note that Capital Metro refused to pay me the cost of materials to emboss the documents concerning proposed changes to our paratransit system. I could easily have produced hundreds of these documents, for they are necessary. But again, Metro is not interested in the visually impaired having equal access, despite the fact that not all of us have access to a computer with adaptive software.


                        My name is Pat Bartel. I am an Sts rider who has produced the following information with the help of other Sts passengers who are also suffering because Capital Metro has once again tried to implement policies without approval. As the first step, they refused to seek approval from the Access Advisory committee and did not consult the Capital Metro board.


Capital Metro Continues to Mislead and Lie to Taxpayers.


The Biggest Lie: Cutting taxi vouchers will save money and lower cost. In actuality, limiting taxi voucher use will cost more.


Each ADA eligible rider who recently lost their permanent as well as pharmacy taxi vouchers, will now cost more than twice as much to accommodate on an STS vehicle. Currently, the average cost for a person to complete a trip in an Sts vehicle is over $45 while a taxi voucher costs Capital Metro less than half of this amount. When taxi vouchers are substantially reduced, these riders will make their trips at a much higher expense because they will then be forced to ride in Sts vehicles. Therefore, since taxi vouchers have already been terminated improperly, costs for Capital Metro will rise; they will not fall as Capital Metro would like you to believe.


Consider the following: If taxi vouchers are reduced by 75 percent, costs for Cap Metro will rise from an estimated $26.9 million to $29.3 million, Metro will lose over $2.4 million. However, if the number of taxi vouchers is doubled, the annual cost savings for Capital Metro would be over $3 million. This is a fact that Capital Metro staff, especially those who are opposed to the taxi voucher program, have failed to reveal. They allege that Sts riders caused past fraud, when, in reality, this abuse proved to be the actions of several cab drivers. It is typical of Capital Metro to cover their mistakes by misrepresenting the facts.


Capital Metro states that the complex and unapproved changes, which would cause undue physical and emotional hardship on its riders as well as restricting independence, that are open for discussion will save only $1.4 million.


In order to fulfill its promise to drastically cut costs, Capital Metro plans to implement a tactic called Functional Assessments, (they soften it by labeling this as an In-Person Interview), starting in 2009. However, Capital Metro has failed to inform Sts riders who their contractor is; they have failed to outline actual costs for this service as well as any costs for the appeals process when passengers are improperly kicked off the system; they failed to seek the approval of the Access Advisory committee for this contractor; and they have provided no details on the medical expertise of this contractor. Yet, they expect both Fred Butler and the Texas Citizen Fund to write a meaningful report for the Cap Metro Board on this issue. Clearly, the facts as well as the figures are being manipulated and an accurate picture is blatantly being withheld.


This current data misrepresentation and disinformation is reminiscent to what MV Transportation, Inc., a company which obtains contracts nationwide to provide paratransit services, engaged in at the Riverside California Transit agency in 2005. MV Transportation, whose apparent philosophy is to provide paratransit service only to a minimalist degree, is the same company where current STS director, Inez Evans, worked as vice president of operations for a year and a half.


Furthermore, an issue which seemingly relates to the current attitude of Capital Metro staff, who insist upon the implementation of unapproved policies as merely "procedural changes", may be the fact, (as reported by the Washington Post), that in 2006, Inez Evans resigned from MV Transportation, as the general manager for Metro Access in Washington, D.C. Of great importance is the fact that until the Metro Access board listened to input from an advisory group similar to the Access Advisory Committee for Cap Metro, MV Transportation was unable to facilitate a smooth transition from Logisticare, the prior paratransit contractor, whose transgressions caused class action lawsuits as well as congressional investigations.


Finally, one must also ask the question: Why has Nancy Crowther, the proclaimed ADA specialist for STS at Cap Metro, taken no apparent action to stop this arrogant misuse of authority. Note that she is disabled herself, she repeatedly portrays herself to be an advocate of civil rights for all disabilities, yet she tows the party line and goes along with whatever Inez Evans and other Sts policy makers declare.


It is time to stand up to Capital Metro. Stand up for your rights. Ask that the Access Advisory Committee be granted the power that it deserves, to act as a watch dog over Cap MetrostSts; after all, we have oversight committees in Congress to keep a president from becoming a dictator. Do not accept any more lies. Ask questions and demand detailed information. Demand accountability and accept nothing but the truth.

There's more to follow, comrades.  Eventually, we hope to fully elucidate this entire story on my web site,, now under construction.  Stay tuned folks!


Chairman Mal

Power to the Peeps!

Note:  I did not spell check Comrade Pat's screed because I want to show how rushed everyone has been in responding to the perfidious bastards at Cap Metro.