Miami Paratransit drivers advertise on the vehicles and don't follow the law

Public Transportation: A Presidential Topic

In Columns, Just My Bellybutton, Opinion by Nathasha AlvarezLeave a Comment

Miami Paratransit drivers advertise on the vehicles and don't follow the law
Paratransit advertises. Where does the money go?

Every time I watch a presidential candidate debate, I end up yelling at the television screen. It doesn’t matter which political party you want to support, when it comes to issues that affect the disabled community, we are rarely mentioned.  When we are mentioned, we are used as one of their anecdotes.

The true winner is one who sees the bigger picture, which includes an unequivocal truth. Everyone will have a disability at one point or another.

My solutions would improve the quality of life for everyone including the non disabled people in our country.

Here are a few of my solutions for pubic transportation.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Public transportation isn’t the responsibility of one governmental sector. It’s actually the partnership of public and private entities.

I live in Miami, Florida. I can vouch that public transportation is horrific! We have taxis, Uber, Lyft, buses, metrorail, and Paratransit for the disabled. For disabled people, the choices are limited because we sometimes give up our dignity in exchange for a trip the grocery store.

Paratransit

I used to take Paratransit. It’s a share riding service for people with disabilities who can’t always use public transportation.

Miami’s Paratransit is once again the nightmare that never ends. It has many of its riders’ baffled about the drastic changes in the last few years. Why do these vehicles have advertising on them? Who is getting the money for these ads? Someone said it goes to the owner of the contracted company. Isn’t that person earning enough money from tax payers for providing this service?

Why doesn’t it help offset the cost of each trip and thereby trickle down to the riders’ cost per trip?

Or at least help increase a better per hour pay for the drivers and customer service representatives? They have bills to pay too. Perhaps even fire some of the inept drivers who are responsible for the lives of disabled people.

While the Miami system itself appears to be better than other paratransit systems in the country, it has a long way to go. Some even say it has regressed from its previous years in the early 2000s.

Paratransit systems in each city in America should have quality transportation with a sense of dignity for the rider.

I would love to have taken public transportation like everyone else but I couldn’t.  So how could I make this better for everyone?

Glad you asked!

CURB CUTS

My heart must accelerate ten times faster when I see a curb cut. They are dangerous, broken or non existent.  Every corner should have safe curb cuts so that we can all cross streets. Our traffic light system should be inclusive for everyone including the blind.

Fixing the curb cuts might be costly but it’s actually not. Think of how liberating it will be for many of us who want to get out but can’t because of these curb cuts. Think about how many people would be out socializing, going to jobs, spending money if they felt safe getting to a public transportation location like their local bus stop.

BUS STOPS

In Miami, I see our bus stops and shake my head in frustration. How can our local leaders believe that people should use public busses when the bus stops are horrible? It is extremely hot in Miami. If it’s not the heat, it’s the pouring rain! The bus stop shelters are pitiful.

Riders aren’t sheltered from the rain or 90 plus degree weather. It’s not that difficult to resolve yet why don’t we? It’s baffling!

I suggest that every bus shelter in the United States of America be made for each city’s weather and climate conditions. Local advertising properly placed on each shelter will help offset the costs for the shelters.

If we have curb cuts and a proper bus shelter, we will want to go out. Once again, more people willing to use public transportation instead of cars. More physically disabled people using public transportation will increase chances that they will not have transportation as an obstacle for socializing or gaining employment.

BUSES

Of course! Buses need an upgrade. Not only the vehicle but also the drivers need an upgrade. You have to be living under a rock to not know the horror stories that the disabled people have had to endure because of the driver’s insensitivity toward the disabled community.  The drivers who do give their best are sometimes faced with nasty passengers and the drivers feel helpless in these situations.

I’m not a bus expert because I am afraid to go on one in Miami, Florida. However, I did go on one in New York City. Luckily, I was with two males because it was scary! I didn’t feel secure in my manual wheelchair when NYC bus drivers made a turn and Miami bus drivers are scarier!

Bus routes need to make sense. I don’t see any sense in Miami’s bus routes. And even less sense in the Metrorail.

METRORAIL

The Metrorail is Miami’s most illogical solution for transportation and not the safest one for wheelchair users. The route itself is mind-boggling. https://www.miamidade.gov/transportation-publicworks/metrorail-stations.asp

I have used the Metrorail several times and each time I have had to say a little prayer. My front wheelchair wheels have almost been caught in the gap between the car and the platform. Passengers have had to hold the doors open for me because I wasn’t quick enough to board. Some passengers have had to argue with other passengers who won’t move so I can fit in the wheelchair section.

It is scary!

While I wouldn’t place my entire presidential platform on solving public transportation issues, I can definitely see that if public transportation is improved, there would be an increase in employment. People would be more willing to go out for fun, for work, for medical reasons, for educational reasons and for any other reason.

Improving public transportation would require the hiring of people from all occupations including disabled people.

Whether you enjoyed this or not, I can honestly say that writing this was very therapeutic.

I’m Nathasha Alvarez and I approve this message!

Send me an email with your city’s current public transportation situation and how you would improve it if you were in charge of it.

nathasha@audacitymagazine.com

My next presidential topic would be education. Take a look at how I feel about the word “SPED” for now until next week when I go into depth on educational solutions. https://www.audacitymagazine.com/stop-using-the-term-sped/