Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Knoxville postpones cuts to accessible transportation thanks to advocates' activism

From WBIR-TV in Knoxville, Tenn.:

The Knoxville City Council postponed cuts that would reduce the disabled community's access to public transportation. Leaders with the disability Resource Center called the postponement a "victory."

"I don't know whether we will be able to get all that we are seeking to accomplish, but we're getting a fair hearing," said UT Law Professor Otis Stephens, who is also blind. "That's the necessary first step, and I feel very good about tonight's result."

Disabled residents filled the room to voice their opposition to the cuts (pictured). Many held signs to convey the services they would be unable to obtain without public transportation.

KAT was scheduled to stop LIFT services on Feb. 1 to disabled people who live more than ¾ quarter of a mile from a regular bus route, the minimum ADA standard. Knoxville currently provides LIFT services to disabled persons who live within 1.5 miles of normal bus routes.

KAT officials said reducing service was a cost-cutting measure that would impact the fewest numbers of people. The city estimates the cuts would affect approximately 40 passengers.

But the city council decided to postpone the reduction of service. Mayor Bill Haslam said the delay would enable the council to meet with members of the disabled community and search for alternatives to allow service to continue.