More Metro Madness!
Thank God this month is finally drawing to a close. I've met twice each week with Cap Metro staff and other disabled transit advocates during this month, and the court mandated metro Mobility Working Group remains divided on several remaining issues. Rather than bringing in experts in ADA paratransit law and regulation, metro staff decided to call for a mediation service to assist the MMWG in making our recommendations. This makes no sense whatsoever. A certified mediator can't give advice, provide information about the law and best industry practice. Instead, each member of the MMWG will be asked, "What is your ideal outcome for open returns?" Each answer is then written down and discussed. As I told the Cap Metro Board last Monday, having a mediator is just like seeing a therapist. The notion is a big waste of our time and taxpayer funds. Our policy recommendations are considered crucial because of upcoming budget meetings and development of a new ADA plan to be submitted to the FTA in August. In other words, the CMTA wants our views so that they can proceed to ignore them and cut Metro Access service. The ADA plan is being rushed so that open returns can be seriously limited, taxi vouchers cut as much as a third and to make it easier to remove Metro Access clients deemed to be cheating the system. We want to get rid of any cheaters just as much as staff, but what's happened is that blind paratransit users with unconditional eligibility for twenty years find they are no longer eligible or must accept conditional eligibility. This is not acceptable. I know my international readers have quit reading by now and others are probably sick of my metro rants. I won't stop until justice is done; even if I only have fifty readers in Austin. I will return to my usual gonzo fare once this monumental battle is concluded. The lives of blind people and those of other disabled citizens are being disrupted because of misguided budget priorities. Not on my watch, Comrades!
Power to the Peeps!