Friday, December 22, 2006

Bend's new transit system has more problems

Bend OR - Bend Area Transit (BAT) has more problems with their new transit system besides just buses that are breaking down. The Bend Weekly reports that a lawsuit has been filed against the transit system stating that the bus stops are not accessible for the disabled.

The Oregon Advocacy Center (OAC) has filed a complaint in the United States District Court alleging that the City of Bend and BAT have not made the system's fixed route bus stops accessible.

Even though BAT blew it with the bus order which was chronicled here earlier in the week, I find this particular lawsuit as more of a nuisance suit and here's why. The transit system is less than a year old and not every stop in the service area can be "brought up to ADA standards" that quickly, In addition, some stops probably can't be brought up to ADA standards without spending millions to redo the roads and sidewalks.

There is not one city that has 100% of their bus stops fully accessible. The transit systems and city government will deal with such issues if complaints are made to them. The problem is that advocacy groups such as the OAC want things done yesterday and it doesn't matter how much the cost is as long as someone else pays for it. Further wasting taxpayers money on nuisance lawsuits isn't going to bring these changes any faster. All it will do is raise taxes and further hurt the fledgling transit system.

BAT has been trying to work with the disabled community since before service started but as usual, advocacy groups have to complain about something. Within the disabled community, legal ADA standards aren't sufficient for some.

While there is room for improvements, the OAC lawsuit tells me that there were options given to them by the city and BAT which didn't meet their demands. As advocacy groups tend to use the position of "it's our way or else" in working with public transit systems, past history tells me more about what is going on here than the news story ever could.

This story has made me think on one issue. That one issue is my position on moving service from areas that don't utilize it to areas that will. If advocacy groups like the OAC will file lawsuits over every bus stop in a brand new system, why would transit systems want to utilize service efficiently. To do so means they'll get sued by some advocacy group that is having a slow day.

The Lance goes out to the Oregon Advocacy Center. By filing these nuisance lawsuits, they are doing nothing but helping to price public transit out of the marketplace.

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