Two years ago, I sold my car and moved to the city knowing that I would need to depend on public transportation to get me places. When public transportation routes were inefficient, I used Uber and Lyft. And for the most part, this wasn’t a financial strain because I could walk places and my transportation to and from work was reimbursed. My mobility has since declined. I can’t walk nearly as far, and even taking public transportation is physically taxing. Now most places are seemingly too far away. And I’ve found myself becoming increasingly dependent on Ubers and Lyfts.
So I finally bit the bullet and looked into paratransit in my city. According to wikipedia:
Paratransit is recognized in North America as special transportation services for people with disabilities, often provided as a supplement to fixed-route bus and rail systems by public transit agencies.
In other words it’s a door-to-door alternative to using the bus and subway for people who can’t otherwise ride the bus or subway. My city utilizes shared vans and subsidizes taxis for their paratransit fleet.
To qualify for the paratransit system, I had to have some forms filled out by my doctor detailing my medical conditions; my physical limitations; and my inability to ride the bus and subway at least some of the time. I had an interview over the phone, and I’ll have an in-person assessment for eligibility in a couple of weeks.
A program my city offers is 50% reduced public transportation fares for those with any disability. However, if you qualify for paratransit service, meaning you are not able to ride the bus or subway 100% of the time, the bus and subway are free. This provides a financial incentive to use more traditional transportation on good days.
I’ll be the first to admit that using such disability services felt embarrassing two years ago, and I didn’t think I needed it then (though, in retrospect I probably did). But I can’t afford to keep taking Ubers to and from work. My job won’t pay for Ubers but they will pay for paratransit since it’s considered public transportaiton. Similarly, I can’t afford to spend $10-30 to attend a doctor’s appointment every few days. Paratransit provides a much more affordable option that costs ~$5.
If you live in a city in the US that has public transportation, your city should have a door-to-door paratransit service for those with disabilities. The city may also provided reduced fares for those not in need of door-to-door assistance. I’m glad that I looked further into my city’s paratransit system. I am looking forward to and am genuinely excited about my new-gained freedoms.