This COVID-19 pandemic has created concern, anxiety, and fear among individuals with disabilities who encounter transportation challenges. In urban areas, paratransit and on-demand services have made accessibility possible when traveling to life-sustaining activities. However, we are facing an ever changing new normal. Transit providers, and riders alike are uncertain of the impact this will have on developing sustainable transportation options.
Individuals who are transportation disadvantaged and transit agencies are working together to find viable ways to reduce fear to help riders adapt to changes while traveling to and from essential services.
Riders are feeling stressed about how to remain safe and independent during travel as well as at their destination. Individuals who are susceptible to this virus may have limited or no options when it pertains to transportation. The fear surfaces in wondering if and trusting whether other riders and drivers are following safety protocols before, during and after trips.
Individuals with disabilities, and those who may not have the ability to drive, still need access to essential rides. They need to get to life sustaining activities such as dialysis and cancer treatments, in addition to getting groceries, meals, or pharmacy prescriptions. Mobility managers are assisting human service agencies virtually to provide access to transportation for individuals with disabilities in order to support them in maintaining their health and wellness during this crisis.
Here are ways in which transit agencies, mobility managers, and riders are reducing fears among the transportation disadvantaged population throughout the U.S.
Instituting clear-cut, client-facing protocols that screen all trips for urgency and offer suggestions about trip priority requirements.
Using unused vehicles from other community agencies to deliver meals to individuals with disabilities or deliver other pharmacy or medical equipment.
Arranging with MPO’s in their communities to recognize challenges and needs to set up technical assistance practices in response to the needs of the populations appropriately. (courtesy of National Center for Mobility Management)
As transit agencies increase in ridership we have the opportunity to create a more inclusive system for our communities.
Danielle McGill serves as Advocacy Coordinator for Mobility Connection, a Mobility Management Facilitation program operated by Ann Storck Center with support from the Florida Department of Transportation.