A local disabled woman is fuming over changes to SunLine Transit Agency's paratransit services. She says the new rules will make things even more difficult for her to maintain her independence.
Her name is Nicole Roeder. For her, getting around isn't always easy. In fact, getting around is never easy.
"Paratransit services is such an important part of the differently abled culture in this country," said Roeder.
Differently abled. Not disabled.
"I am not disabled. I may be phyiscally. But mentally. No," said Roeder.
Roeder has several degrees and works as a tutor at College of the Desert. Her calendar is full of appointments that must be kept. Not easy when you have to work twice as hard as everyone else to get around. So when she got a letter from Sunline Transit Agency saying the hours to her parantransit services would be cut she was not happy."
"My reaction was one of utter disbelief and shock."
Roeder currently uses the curb-to-curb service which picks her up from home and takes her where she wants to go. The services starts at 6 a.m. and ends at 10 p.m.
The new rules will still provide curb-to-curb services, but the hours of operation have been reduced to 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In an email to KMIR, Sunline said changes to the 53 line come after funding for paratransit services has dwindled. Funding that is based ridership, which is not as strong as it once was. Leaving Roeder and others like her with few options.
"Route 53 is vital to me because it's my livelihood. It maintains my sense of independence, dignity and basic humanity," said Roeder.
After looking at a newly developed map of bus routes in the area where Roeder lives, a representative from SunLine said Roeder is eligible for paratransit services from about 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and wont be restricted to the five hour window detailed in the letter she received. However, the paratransit service will not operate on weekends. Forcing Roeder to search for new options to get her around the valley.
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