Getting around Rochester with a disability

Advocacy

What do you do when you need to go somewhere in Rochester?  You use your car and drive, right?  This is not an option for everyone, including people who have disabilities.

How about public transportation?

People with disabilities often depend on public transportation to get them places they need, like work, or want to be, like the movies.  But what happens if you don’t live near a bus line?  What if your wheelchair doesn’t fit up the ramp to the bus?  What if you want to be spontaneous about going somewhere?

For people with disabilities transportation involves hours of planning to even schedule a ride.  It often takes 1-2 extra hours to get somewhere.  They may be forced to arrive two hours early for a doctor’s appointment or get pick-up an hour after their date is over.  A simple errand can take much longer for them than people with their own transportation.  According to Luther, a friend of the Arc, “I can’t get to the places I want to enjoy.”  He stresses that he doesn’t want to rely on friends or family for rides either.

What are the options?

The bus system

RTS Access, formerly Lift Line, is operated by the Regional Transit Service and is widely used by people who have disabilities, but there are also limitations.  For example, transportation to Monroe County is available, but the buses don’t cross counties.  In addition, same-day ride service is often unreliable and risky.

Many times sidewalks and curbs in Rochester are not cleared of snow so access to bus stops may be compromised for those who use wheelchairs.

Taxis, Uber, Lyft

Self-service options are available but not many of them are accessible.  Taxis are also expensive.  All of the above may not be able or willing to provide rides to people with service animals or power chairs.

Car

In general owning and maintaining a car is expensive and may need adjustments like hand controls.

Opportunities for improvement

Below are some transportation improvement suggestions from Arc Alliance, the self-advocacy group at the Arc of Monroe.

  • Increase same-day options with a reliable service
  • Fix ramps on regular RTS buses so that any power chair can have make it up the ramp
  • Make adaptive vehicles more affordable for people who have driver’s license
  • Introduce UberWav to the Upstate and Western NY. This service provides wheelchair accessible rides and is being tested in larger markets
  • Create an integrated bus system that offers door-to-door service
  • Provide snow removal at and around bus stops

How can you advocate?

People who have disabilities deserve the same opportunities as everyone else – getting to work on time, going out to dinner with friends, running a quick errand.  Let’s work together to make the Rochester community available to everyone.  It’s an incredible city with so much for everyone to enjoy.

Alison Cundy

Alison Cundy

Written by Alison Cundy, Marketing Associate at the Arc of Monroe.  Alison attends Arc Alliance, the self-advocacy group at the Arc of Monroe.  She lives in Penfield, NY with her family.