By Jan Campbell, Chair of TriMet’s Committee on Accessible Transportation
When my husband died six years ago I made a decision to move to Downtown Portland, which has more accessible neighborhoods and better transit. I needed to maintain my independence and I know my life would have deteriorated in my Southwest Portland neighborhood.
I shared my story with Senator Ginny Burdick during “Transit Day at the Capitol” last week to help her appreciate how vital transit is to riders with like me with disabilities. For many of us, public transit is the difference between living your life and living in isolation.
I’ve dedicated the last 35 years of my life to advocating for people with disabilities regionally and statewide. I am proud to be one of the nearly 100 Portland-area transit riders who gathered in Salem on April 10th to advocate for more funding for transit.
TriMet and Ride Connection riders met with more than 35 legislators to educate them on the importance of our public transit system in our lives. I think many of them were surprised at how difficult the last few years have been on riders, particularly those who rely on the LIFT program (TriMet’s shared-ride service for people with disabilities).
Every time the fixed-route service district is reduced it also reduces service to door-to-door riders. These cuts are dramatically hurting riders, many of whom depend on transit to get to their jobs, go shopping, go to medical appointments and access other essential services.
TriMet unfortunately is one of a number of transit systems that experienced deep service cuts and significant fare increases during this recession. It’s clear Oregon needs to invest more in public transit.
As part of my advocacy efforts, I invited my new legislator, Rep. Jennifer Williamson, to join me for a guided tour of our transit system. There is no better education quite like seeing our transit system and neighborhoods through the eyes of a person using a wheelchair.