[tabi] from today's Democrat: Seniors, people with disabilities anxious about new routes

  • From: "Chip Orange" <Corange@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 20 Oct 2009 10:12:24 -0400

October 20, 2009
StarMetro changes may strand some

By TaMaryn Waters

Lynn Evans has never driven a car.
He is legally blind. Anything beyond 20 feet from him is a blur. Armed
with a red
and white cane and a thirst for independence, Evans depends on the
city's bus system,
StarMetro, to get where he needs to be.
He has doubts, though, about how well a planned overhaul of the
operation, known
as Nova 2010, will adequately serve people with disabilities. And many
others believe
the system will be a disservice to senior citizens.
In 2008, 52,949 trips were taken by people with disabilities, and 89,078
trips were
taken by seniors. About 4.2 million total trips were taken the same
year, according
to StarMetro.
People are mainly concerned about the longer distance riders will have
to walk to
get to a bus stop and being forced to wait for buses at congested
Many see it as an attempt to attract new riders while diminishing
service to those
who need it most.
Gripping the blue hand rail on a bus last week as it rumbled toward its
next stop,
Evans wondered how his life will change with the new plan.
"I don't have a good idea of the plan because they keep showing me
maps," said Evans,
who's attended three information sessions. "And I can't see the maps."
He lives in Miccosukee Hills, a subsidized housing community off of
Miccosukee Road.
And it will no longer get direct bus service under the new plan.
Instead, a bus will
stop at the entrance of the subdivision.
Miccosukee Hills residents, many of whom are seniors citizens, will have
to walk
uphill to access the bus.
Last week, they pleaded with planners to reconsider the change in their
They said Miccosukee Road, a canopy road with no sidewalks, is not an
ideal spot
for a bus stop.
"That lets us know you don't care," Luetta Thompson, 64, said during the
Ron Garrison, executive director for StarMetro, said his staff is trying
to make
this system work for residents. At the same time, planners insist the
plan is a viable
step toward improving an outdated system.
The plan proposes the creation of several transfer spots instead of all
routes funneling
to C.K. Steele Plaza. It also increases the number of buses coming to a
stop during
peak hours.
The plan would whittle the current 26 routes to 11 or 12 routes,
completely eliminating
some areas currently being served. And riders will have to walk half a
mile instead
of a quarter of a mile to a stop. Garrison said, "I'm not trying to be a
bad guy
to a couple of people, but I'm trying to make it better for the greater
That could be more difficult than it appears.
"We have mixed feelings," said Dan Moore, director of programs for
Ability First.
He said the plan may be ideal for people who don't have a tough time
walking. But
it may be a nightmare for others.
If the City Commission approves the plan in March, riders will have to
decide to
use it or find other means of transportation. And that raises a new set
of concerns.
Riders like Evans say Dial-a-Ride, the city's federally mandated attempt
to provide
service to people with disabilities, is not an automatic option.
Dial-a-Ride is available to eligible residents, and it costs $2.50 one
way, compared
to StarMetro's $1.25 fare. A lower price is given based on income. The
city also
contracts with another company to provide transportation for people with
But because of budget cuts, that service is forced to handle priority
calls first,
like medical appointments. A ride to the mall or to the Senior Center
might mean
a longer wait or no service at all.
Donna Peacock, who supervises these alternative services for StarMetro,
said she
doesn't have a clear idea if Dial-a-Ride will see an influx in riders as
a result
of Nova 2010.
"Is it going to put a strain us?" Peacock said. "To be honest, I can't
really tell
Additional Facts
Here are routes affected by Nova 2010:
d Centerville Road from Betton to Woodgate
d Woodgate subdivision
d Lonnbladh from Hermitage to Raymond Diehl - Instead, service is on
Capital Circle
d Miccosukee Hills - Service will be on Miccosukee Road
d Bermuda Road - Instead, Service will be on Henderson
d John Knox Road from Meridian Road to Monroe Street - Instead, Service
on Meridian
and Monroe
d Allen Road from Monroe to Fulton - Instead, Service on
d Hartsfield from Atlas to High Road
d High Road from Hartsfield to Tharpe
d Roberts from Eisenhower to Rankin - Instead, Service on Eisenhower
d Rankin from Roberts to Tallahassee Museum
d Meridian from Perkins to Paul Russell - Instead, Service on Monroe and
d Lake Munson and Lake Palm - Instead, Service on Orange Avenue
d Gaile From Woodville to Tram
d Zillah from Tram to Paul Russell
d Shelfer from Ross to Capital Circle
d Capital Circle from Shelfer to Crawfordville Road
d Crawfordville Road from Capital Circle to Shelfer
d Victory Garden Area - Instead, Service begin on Park Ave. to Apalachee
d Blair Stone from Park to Orange - Instead, Service will begin on Park
Avenue to Apalachee
d Old St. Augustine from Blair Stone Road to Midyette
d Sutor from Apalachee Parkway to Trojan Trail - Instead, Service on
Apalachee Parkway
d Trojan Trail from Sutor to Conner Boulevard - Instead, Service will
begin at Conner

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