Northwest NEWS

November 1, 1999

Editorial

Officials should have to count on Access to get around

   Eleanor, you are not alone! I live close to the Cottage Lake Community Service Center (King County), and my service has been so terrible that my doctor has ordered me to take a taxi.

   I was only using Access to go to medical appointments. My appointments are often scheduled months in advance, but travel arrangements can only be made seven days ahead. On the other hand, if you want to take craft classes three times a week at the same location and time, it can be scheduled for months at a time.

   My doctors understand my need to be independent and schedule me when the Access buses are least likely to be busy. Because of my physical problems, I have limited my doctor appointments to offices that are 20 minutes or less from my home.

   When I used the bus, it was not uncommon to ride around for an hour before going to the doctor, and then I was there 1 1/2, sometimes 2 hours early. Usually there is another 45-minute wait for the bus to arrive afterwards and then pick up and drop off people in every direction (other than toward my home). I could count on being gone anywhere from 5 1/2 to 6 hours for a 40-minute appointment. Even a 5-10 minute visit with the doctor meant being away from home at least 4 hours.

   Now, when I use taxi service, these appointments only require a small portion of my day. If I have a five-minute appointment, I can be home and back in bed within an hour! My understanding was that taxi scrip at a reduced price was going to be available for all paratransit riders by fall 1999. That's what the pamphlet that I got in July said, but, I guess something is delaying it.

   I need to see a specialist in Seattle and have tests done there, but I cannot afford full price taxi fare for regular trips that far, and the bus (at the current service level) is out of the question. Everyone who has looked at my file at Quality Assurance has been shocked at the situation, and then "POOF"--that person is gone!!!

   My last bus trip was memorable. I called seven days ahead and was dropped off so early that I was done before my appointment was to start. I called to check about the possibility of being picked up early to go home. I was told that being picked up early was no longer a possibility. (But picking you up before the "early window" still happens.)

   Then I called "Quality Assurance." Every single name on the voice mail was new to me so I just picked a number and got lucky. I got the replacement for the person I had been working with.

   I would like to see three or four government officials who are brave enough to count on Access service to get them to and from the places they need and want to be for 30 days! I think there would be another "POOF" and magically the "differently-abled" in King County would have decent transportation service.

Name withheld by request