Disabled riders get new service

by Lynne Kozarek

Beginning Jan. 27, University students and staff who use wheelchairs, canes, crutches and other mobility aids will have a free service available providing specialized curb-to-curb service between University facilities.
The Department of Parking and Transportation Services, in conjunction with Disability Services, will be operating a shuttle to transport disabled passengers between University buildings. A 12-passenger van will run on request Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The service will be provided fall quarter through second summer session.
Bob Baker, director of Parking and Transportation Services, said the service has been discussed by administrators for several years.
Baker said the plans for the service were finalized in late December.
“There is always a question about need, funding and design,” said Baker. “This is experimental. We’ll find out if there is a high enough demand for this specialized service.”
Cari Hatcher, public relations representative for Parking and Transportation Services, said there was a good deal of demand for the service.
“There are a lot of areas that are hard to get to on campus,” Hatcher said. “We are actively working with Disability Services on this and everyone is excited.”
Sue Lasoff, accessibility specialist with Disability Services, said they have worked very closely with the transportation office to make the shuttle a reality.
Lasoff said the service will function as an experiment to determine how many riders will use the service, and to find out where they need to go.
Baker said he expects the service to cost $50,000 in its first year; the funds will come from a grant from the University’s Department of Health, Safety and Transportation.
“Over the next six months we will be doing daily ridership counts,” Baker said. “We will determine if the service is needed.”
“No one has good records in cases of disability,” Baker said. “In some cases those records are illegal. We’re going on the advice of customers that we’ve talked to who are disabled.”
Baker said that if demand for the new service justifies its expansion, officials will seek further sources of funding.