"Rewriting the Myths, Redefining the Realities"
On September 26, 2001, the Regional Transportation District
(RTD) entered into a consent decree with the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition
(CCDC). CCDC is a statewide organization run by and for people with disabilities. Members work together to support disability rights. RTD is the Denver metro area public mass transit agency and provides 248,729 passenger rides daily. Of these, it is estimated that approximately 5,000 are provided to individuals with various types of disabilities. The decree will ensure that all riders will have the same quality of service available to them system-wide regardless of the disability.
RTD’s training department has taken a proactive approach to this decree and has implemented several new policies and procedures, ranging from the initial orientation of new employees to mandatory re-training of the veteran operators with an 8-hour training seminar. They have also expanded their undercover ride-check program, now employing several individuals with disabilities. These individuals ride buses throughout the system, monitoring the adherence to the court decree by the operators.
Several videos have been created for presentations at the District’s seven divisions ranging from reiterating the basic operation of the bus to an intense focus on the items addressed in the consent decree.
“We’re excited at the opportunity to better serve our passengers with disabilities. We also look forward to educating our personnel who support our transit agency on the Americans with Disabilities Act and the important role it plays in their daily responsibilities at work,” says Alice Osner Manager of RTD’s Bus Operations Training Department. “Denver is known as the cradle of the disability movement. We were the frontrunner nationwide in providing total accessibility for those using mobility devices on all our fixed route services. We have also been recognized as the most accessible city in America,” she stated, “and we will continue to take a proactive approach in our partnering with the disabled community.”
The civil action was initiated by CCDC in an effort to clarify several long-standing issues concerning securement of mobility devices as well as to identify problems that had arisen due to varying interpretations of the disability act.
RTD had taught for years that individuals with mobility devices were required to have their chairs secured for safety reasons by means of the bus manufacturers restraint belts. However, it has been determined that non-securement creates no additional hazard greater than that for any other individual not secured by means of a seat belt, which transit vehicles are not equipped with. This now means that passengers with wheelchairs can elect securement or non-securement. In addition, RTD is installing decals on all their buses with explicit instructions for the operators on lift deployment. In the past there had been some operators who were unfamiliar with the various types and series of the chair lifts and their operation. It is hoped that having these stickers in place will help alleviate those problems. Another resource being made available is a device called a Stokes Strap that is attached to the individual’s chair at a location that identifies to the operator a place of securement that will withstand the stress of the vehicles securement straps. There had been concern of damage to chairs from the attachment of securement straps at improper locations not able to withstand such stress. The Stokes Straps are available to the disabled community free of charge and can be acquired by calling the RTD’s training department at 303-299-4056.
Currently RTD is being evaluated by transit agencies throughout the nation because of their innovative approach to supporting and nurturing their relationship with members of the disabled community. RTD continues to strive to be the trendsetter as this new chapter of the rights movement continues to be interpreted by the courts.
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Copyright 2002 A&H Publishing Corporation