On Monday, the Three Rivers Center for Independent Living, an advocacy group for those with disabilities, held the first of what it hopes will be several forums on improving transportation options for people with disabilities in the Pittsburgh region. The focus will be on requesting that taxi cabs comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Stanley Holbrook, President and CEO of the organization, said that the effort stems from all of the budget cuts to Port Authority transportation, including the 29 bus lines that have been eliminated in the past year, and the lines that have had service reduced. The move has forced many to seek alternative forms of transportation.
"There's so many small routes that people depended on that no longer exist, and there are people with disabilities that live in those areas, and they have to find alternate means to get around," he said.
He said that, based on phone calls the organization has received, many of the cabs in the region are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
People with disabilities also have the option of using paratransit or Access, which picks people up at their homes. It costs a bit more than typical public transportation, but usualy less than a taxi. Holbrook said that because people have to call ahead to arrange service and the transit service makes several stops, this is not always the best option for some tasks, like running an errand.
He referenced lawsuits and actions in New York City and Philadelphia on this issue. Those cities have larger populations and more of a taxi-cab culture, as well as an over-all increased reliance on public transportation.
More cuts to the Port Authority are expected in the next year.