This week, Washington State Senate transportation leaders hosted the final meetings in their bipartisan listening session tour. Hundreds of people showed up to Monday’s meeting in Seattle to address transportation challenges, including local officials from Seattle and nearby cities, union representatives, businesses, pedestrians and bicycle commuters, low-income advocates, young adults, and people with disabilities.
Many spoke up in support of public transit and other transportation options, urging the legislators to prevent cuts to service and to ensure sustainable funding for all forms of transportation.
A few spoke up specifically for the needs of people with disabilities. Robert Canamar, who uses a wheelchair and is a Commissioner on the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities, said:
“I’m not here to berate you; I’m here to open your eyes. My constituency is people with disabilities and how do we get around? By public transportation. We use buses, trains, and Access [paratransit]. Once a day, because of inadequacies with bus system, I have to wheel myself over a mile to get to the bus. You must fund public transportation so people can get to work, doctor’s appointments, and other places they need to go.”Jacob Struiksma, a blind person and transit advocate, told legislators:
“I walk and take transit to go anywhere: meetings, the grocery store, the beach, to hang out with my friends. Transit is my life. I spend thousands of hours on a bus or walking because I don’t have the choice to just get in a car and drive anywhere. Transit is the main way for many people to get around and it’s something people across the state want, but some areas may soon have no transit options because we aren’t funding it. Jobs and a good economy are driven by transit access, not by building more lanes.”A young woman who recently moved to Seattle said,
“It’s hard enough for me to catch a bus on time or cross the street safely; I can’t imagine how hard it could be for a person with a disability. The bus is a big part of my daily routine. Cutting funding is baffling—if anything, we need more funding.”Transportation options help create a web of connectivity, allowing people to get where they need to go—including school, work, shopping and social activities. Access to these options is especially important for people with disabilities.
An increase in special needs transportation funding will ensure that communities across the state can coordinate solutions that meet the diverse transportation needs of each region. It will keep people with disabilities connected to their community.
The listening sessions may be over, but we still need to tell our legislators how critical special needs transportation is in the everyday lives of people with disabilities.
- Meet with your legislator. Learn more by reading this issue brief, then set up a meeting to discuss this issue with your legislator. You can also provide your legislators with this leave-behind handout so they know what to do.
- If you missed the meetings, you can also leave an online comment for the Senate Transportation committee.
Contact us for help with scheduling a meeting or to let us know how you visit goes! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 206-284-4254, ext 40237.
By Linnea Nasman, MS Advocacy Volunteer
Photo credit: King County Metro
Photo credit: King County Metro