Albany, Reno, Niles Michigan.
And now Utah.
Just some of the places where rides for the disabled are being cut and further cuts are being wrestled with, eliminating the only source of transportation for many to work, the doctor, church, the grocery store and to get out of their homes. In some places, fare hikes are in effect eliminating the use of services by those on fixed incomes already grappling with the prices of food and medication.
At the Utah Transit Authority, people with disabilities cried as they spoke about the effect of cutting their only means of transportation. Many have been there before and know what it's like to not have a way to get anywhere.
"Please don't keep us prisoners in our homes," Patricia Williams, a disabled 40-year Reno resident said at a recent hearing. "Let us get out and see our family. Let us go to the grocery store.
The mass transit cuts also affect those who work with people with disabilities, who receive low wages and rely on bus routes. In St. Louis, about half of a care center's kitchen and housekeeping staff have no other way to get to work. Aides caring for those in their homes also can't get to some places, cutting off individuals who need services.
The ripple effect of mass transit cuts, including paratransit cuts and fare hikes, affects those least able to find alternatives, at the lowest income levels. There isn't any wiggle room in their household budget, nor do they have access to other forms of transportation. Many live alone and receive no rides or financial help from families. And, in some cases, even if a friend or family member could give a ride, their car can't hold a heavy wheelchair.
As the number of cities cutting these vital services increases, more people are left without transportation, without care, without a way to get health care and food. Some will be forced into nursing homes, unable to sustain themselves in the community, costing the government far more in the end for their daily care. Others will live as virtual prisoners in their homes. Many will lose jobs or have to stop volunteer work. Even more cut off, they will have fewer chances to get rides from anyone in the community.
Yes, they cried at that hearing in Utah. And how many are crying behind closed doors?