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Thursday, November 9, 2006

Should the Handicapped Be Banned from Express Buses?

posted by on November 9 at 10:23 AM

This morning, the ride on my express bus from Rainier Valley, which is supposed to take 30 minutes, was delayed four times for the entry and exit of two handicapped people in wheelchairs. The first wheelchair took a full 10 minutes, as the bus driver scooted a few inches forward and backward repeatedly to line up with the curb. Thus a ride that was supposed to be “express” ended up getting me (and maybe 100 other people) to work 20 minutes late.

So I’m just putting this out there: Is it fair for one or two handicapped individuals’ right to public accommodation to trump the right of dozens or hundreds of others to have reliable transit service that gets them to work on time? Is it fair for two people in wheelchairs to make everyone else on the “express” bus late?

For the negative: The Americans with Disabilities Act guarantees reasonable accommodation to public facilities to all handicapped people. The bus system is a public facility. Therefore it’s unjust to exclude people with the misfortune of being handicapped, who may already face significant discrimination in their daily lives, from the same service I, as a non-handicapped person, enjoy.

For the affirmative: Express buses that aren’t fast and reliable aren’t really express buses. Given that the bus system in Seattle is already slow, unreliable express buses make people disinclined to take the bus. I won’t take transit unless I know it will get me to work on time. Furthermore, there are plenty of alternative, non-express buses that run along express routes. The greater good dictates that people with special needs should be restricted to buses that aren’t specifically devoted to fast, reliable service. And there are plenty of exceptions to the ADA: Equal accommodation doesn’t require me to hire someone who isn’t physically capable of doing a job, for example. (Added after original post: Metro’s Access program provides door-to-door van service for handicapped riders; fare for this service is just 75 cents.)

What do y’all think? Should Metro ban the handicapped from express buses? Or should I get over it and accept unreliable “express” buses as a side effect of equal access for everyone?

RSS icon Comments


Certainly debatable, and I could go either way. Relatedly, do you know if the fancy new not-BRT bus lines with their fancy shelters are going to include rampless boarding for wheelchairs and prepayment?

Posted by Noink | November 9, 2006 10:24 AM

Here's something that's undebatable: You're heartless. Are you one of the people that yelled "Jump!" to that woman on the I-5 bridge a few years back?

Posted by DOUG. | November 9, 2006 10:28 AM

Crazy, I was just thinking the same thing this morning about my bus ride, which, every morning, stops at the VA Hopsital on Beacon Hill (#39). More often than not, a wheelchair or two gets on there. This generally takes several minutes, and it again takes several more when they get off the bus upon reaching downtown. Many times I've caught myself sighing heavily at the slow up. But then I immediately feel guilty and tell myself I should be thankful that I'm not in that wheelchair, and that this lesson in patience is good for me. Also, express bus or not, you can't blame the handicapped for our lame transit system. If we had fast elevated transit, like Chicago for instance, there wouldn't be a need for this sort of discussion. So yes, to answer your question, you should get over it. There is no way the handicapped should be banned from "express" buses.

Posted by jameyb | November 9, 2006 10:29 AM

Actually, I think I side with restricting wheelchairs to non-express buses. It's already going to take you longer to get anywhere in a wheelchair, no need to drag everyone else down as well. Whether it's politically feasible, and whether it would other less-fair instances of discrimination are issues I'm not prepared to handle, though.

Posted by Noink | November 9, 2006 10:29 AM

Erica, I share your frustration on a regular basis. The lift on the bus ruins my day every time. The newer hybrid buses have a better lift system than the older actual lifts, they just lower a ramp. Much faster. The solution is to move the hybrids with the ramps to the express routes, which can avoid wire snags as well, saving even more time. The other solution could be that handicapped people who want express service on express route should be required to use the Access system, which gives people door-to-door service. They call, get picked up, and everyone is happy. I wish I could use the Access system, considering how much we all pay for it.

Posted by Andrew C. | November 9, 2006 10:30 AM

I'll bet that people who use wheelchairs would like to get to work on time, too.

Posted by Diana | November 9, 2006 10:31 AM

Erica, get over it! By Express, does Metro mean the bus has to cross the finish line by a certain time or are they Express buses because they take a little less time than normal routes? I'm sure they shoot for the former, but it usually turns into a mission for the latter. There are so many fine lines to debate to death, but let's not leave the disabled waiting outside even longer for a regular bus while the normal folk get to enjoy the special bus. See, even that doesn't make much sense. Take an earlier bus, Erica.

Posted by Decon Seattle | November 9, 2006 10:32 AM

If you absolutely want to get to work on time, take an earlier bus. If the bus is not delayed, you'll have a few minutes to settle in, have some coffee, chat by the water cooler, whatever. If it is delayed, you're still more likely to get to work on time.

Posted by Pedestrian | November 9, 2006 10:33 AM

I'm not sure I could go along with banning the disabled from express buses, but I hope that disabled folks would think twice about planning their travel on an express route when they know the loading/unloading process is going to negate much of the "express" benefit of the route for their fellow riders. It's really just about being considerate, and the ADA doesn't relieve disabled folks of the burden of being considerate of how accommodating their needs may impact others.

On a separate but related note, I'd be all for Metro eliminating 50% or more of its bus stops in residential neighborhoods to create more of a hub-like, express-like experience for riders (fewer stops, longer walks to/from the bus stop). The time saved in travel, not to mention the lessened impact of buses re-entering traffic on busy streets, would more than make up for having to walk two or three blocks to catch the bus, rather than the typical one-stop-every-two-blocks configuration we see today. Of course, some disabled or elderly folks will cry foul, and in King County government, that'll be the end of the discussion...

Posted by Don | November 9, 2006 10:33 AM

ableism:discrimination against 'disabled' people in favor of people who are not disabled.
Banning people in wheelchairs from riding express buses is saying that you only want fast, efficient, express and able people to get on your bus.
I'm from Chicago, and believe me, we still have all kinds of delays, from all different kinds of people.
It's not bad to get frustrated for not being able to get to work on time, but really, let's not abuse a privilage.

Posted by sofia | November 9, 2006 10:33 AM

You're off your rocker.

The ADA doesn't guarantee "reasonable"; it guarantees equal access. It doesn't have to be IDENTICAL access, but if the non-disabled public has access to something, the disabled also must have access. In the case of the bus, if there's a scheduled route, the disabled MUST HAVE ACCESS to that route, with the same frequency and number of stops.

This has nothing to do with "special needs", and it certainly has nothing to do "hiring someone who isn't capable of doing the job"; it has to do with making the service available to ALL CITIZENS.

Wheelchair riders are not incapable of using the bus. They just need a motorized lift. The law MANDATES that that ramp be provided to them. There is not even the tiniest glimmer of a hint of confusion on this point: they must have these ramps.

To suggest that your "special needs" -- faster travel -- trump those of people who are in wheelchairs is incredibly self-centered and rude. They are citizens just like you -- EXACTLY LIKE YOU. This is not a SPECIAL right, it is an EQUAL right. Your desire to leave them by the side of the road so you can cruise to work faster suggests that you don't really grasp the concept of equal rights at all. How amazingly unprogressive.

Posted by Fnarf | November 9, 2006 10:34 AM

ableism:discrimination against 'disabled' people in favor of people who are not disabled.
Banning people in wheelchairs from riding express buses is saying that you only want fast, efficient, express and able people to get on your bus.
I'm from Chicago, and believe me, we still have all kinds of delays, from all different kinds of people.
It's not bad to get frustrated for not being able to get to work on time, but really, let's not abuse a privilage.

Posted by sofia | November 9, 2006 10:34 AM

That's why I drive, Erica, and it's why I will be driving on our nice new Viaduct, and the sooner the better.

As for the people who use wheelchairs, Yes, absolutely, the express buses should accomodate them. It's the law. Take an earlier bus if you're worried about being late. Every decision we make has tradeoffs.

Posted by ivan | November 9, 2006 10:34 AM

I too have endured the slow torture of a multi-wheelchair rush hour bus. However, it would violate the ADA to exclude wheelchairs from express buses. Sorry.

(As a side note, when I lived on Cap Hill I always loved the wheelchair-bound drag queen who used to get on the #10 at KFC.)

Posted by giantladysquirrels | November 9, 2006 10:36 AM

it sounds like the bus was late because of the driver,not the handicapped.
i use to live out there in the valley and found that express service can be late for a variety of reasons that seem to compound when a handicap person boards. i say 'seem to' because i used to ride with a wheechair bound friend fairly often and witnessed the reactions of other passengers when my friend and i would dis board - process that usually didn't take as long as what maybe three minutes. i seen drunks and indigents fishing for change take longer.
i think they the handicapped have the right to use the service and pay for the service and you/we should suck it up when you are ocassionally inconvienced or late.they shouldn't be banned from ANY buses.
and i ride the buses every day.

Posted by riz | November 9, 2006 10:37 AM

10 minutes seems unreasonable but is 5? How about 2 or 3?

Seems like there is some room for improvement somewhere in the system. Maybe the lifts or the bus stops suck. Or maybe some drivers need more practice to do this quickly.

Posted by jess | November 9, 2006 10:38 AM

Can't do it, Bozos. It's called discrimination.

Posted by Lola | November 9, 2006 10:40 AM

It sounds to me like the person who REALLY slowed you down this morning was the bus driver, not the handicapped people. A good driver can have a disabled person on and off in a minute or two -- it's not supposed to take ten.

LOTS of things can make you late for work on the bus -- it's not restricted to people in wheelchairs. Bad traffic, delayed buses, buses that broke down and just never show up at all, etc. etc. etc. I think the majority of regular bus riders know better than to trust a bus to always be exactly on schedule. Personally, I think the better solution to this problem would be for you to either lighten up about being occasionally late to work or take an earlier bus to guarantee you never will be. After all, leaving your house a bit earlier in the morning seems a minor inconvenience to me compared to the inconveniences people in wheelchairs ALREADY have to deal with on a daily/hourly/minutely basis.

I vote for you sucking it up, in other words.

Posted by Joan | November 9, 2006 10:41 AM

try riding the 42. its late no matter what.

is it fair? no. but, its legal and folks have a right to an express bus. the express bus has to provide equal access as much as a non express.

i have no problem with folks delaying the bus a bit. its not that much time. and WE ARE NOT that important, though some of us think we are.

i have a beef with the smelly people who get on the bus after work downtown and the windows are closed cuz of the rain. now thats just not cool.

Posted by SeMe | November 9, 2006 10:42 AM

no ban

Posted by josh | November 9, 2006 10:45 AM

Asking someone to take an earlier bus, when they're probably already leaving for work 30 minutes before their driving counter-part is why so few people take the bus in the first place. I only learned how to drive when I moved to California (it sucks, I hate driving). The only alternative in my town, though, is taking the bus...which only runs once an hour and takes an hour and a transfer to traverse the 4 miles between my house and my work. (I'd bike, except for the bit where it's all uphill and it rains almost as much as Seattle.)

While I disagree with prohibiting wheelchairs from using the express buses, the ADA is shit. I work at a university where one of my students has a documented "disability" of chronic tardiness and absenteeism.

Posted by dewsterling | November 9, 2006 10:47 AM

False advertising and late buses are shitty excuses for hating on the disabled, Erica.

IMO the buses out here are just barely accessible. If it takes ten minutes to load a wheelchair passenger, that's not the person's fault, it's KC Metro's fault.

Don't blame the victim, Erica.

Posted by K | November 9, 2006 10:47 AM

Did you ever consider that there are handicapped people out there who don't want to be late to work either????
The tone of your post suggests that handicapped people couldn't possibly be also in a hurry or have something to do. Which is outright ridiculous.
My father has been a parapalegic for the past 31 years and worked (when he could have easily gotten social security) so that he could raise myself and my brother.
You think your life is stressful? Try doing it from a wheelchair.
Don't blame people who are disabled for a crappy public transportation system.

Posted by jennifer | November 9, 2006 10:48 AM

LOL ECB dissing the handicapped!

JOKING, I see your point. I have ridden many an express bus where we've had to pick up the handicapped, and honestly it should not have extended your ride that much, even with 4 stops. Of course, knowing that Rainier Valley corridor (OMG you live out there?!), there are still far too many stops.

The driver needs to be efficient w/r/t getting the handicapped on/off the bus, getting all the accomodating fixtures into and out of place. That driver should not need to practice his parallel parking during an express route. You should have reported him.

If Metro is to place any restrictions on handicapped travel, they're gonna have to expand Access and make it free to ride, because you are actively denying travel to a disabled person without the means to afford alternate travel. This, of course, assumes such an act isn't illegal (which as stated above, it probably is).

Posted by Gomez | November 9, 2006 10:51 AM

Were you fired for being 20 minutes late? No? Then you were not *that* inconvenienced.

Posted by georgetown stew | November 9, 2006 10:51 AM

Reading this post ruined my day. Can you imagine seeing "no wheelchairs allowed signs"??? The city of seattle would be sued into oblivion.

Posted by WTF?! | November 9, 2006 10:51 AM

The point of an express route is that it's faster than a non-express route because of fewer stops. All things being equal (i.e., allowing wheelchair pickups on all routes) the express is, on average, faster. There's no false advertising on the part of Metro, just deluded expectations on the part of some riders.

Posted by smiles | November 9, 2006 10:54 AM

Wait a minute... 20 minutes late... 100 people....

... shouldn't there have been an empty bus of the same route running behind you guys after a while? Normally, once a route gets backed up to a point, the next bus on the route comes up behind him, and with the bus full, the driver of your bus will just pass stops knowing the bus behind him will pick up.

Of course, I was on a bus this morning whose driver hit a parked truck and we all had to disembark and walk, so maybe there's a lot of stupid in the water back at the base this morning.

Posted by Gomez | November 9, 2006 10:57 AM

ugh, this post really disgusts me. count your blessings that you don't need a wheelchair and freaking deal with it.

Posted by shani | November 9, 2006 10:59 AM

andrew @ 5
a correction about access services. there are rules and restrictions about access services. one has to call the day before the service to reserve it, one needs to be accompanied by an attendant on both sides of the trip, one has to live reasonably close to a bus line. it's not a cab service and it is much less dependable for wheechair bound people who work or go to school.

Posted by riz | November 9, 2006 10:59 AM

erica: really? ouch.

while i understand your frustration about the bus being late, i think fnarf sums it up best in #11.

i 've always felt bad about the laborious process that surrounds getting a wheelchair on board. all the beeping, maneuvering, visible irritation of some bus drivers, and audible frustration of fellow riders seems so bloody humiliating.

christ. as if not being able to walk isn't bad enough.

Posted by kerri harrop | November 9, 2006 11:02 AM

Re: No 28 - There was a regular #7 running right in front of us and one right behind (they run every 10 minutes in the morning) but the express bus on that route only runs every hour.

Posted by ECB | November 9, 2006 11:04 AM

I infer from your post Erica that you were able to get on the bus, i.e. it wasn’t already full. And you’re complaining? Ha! Your post reeks of a newbie bus rider. One bad ride and you’re ready to storm off because it doesn’t run exactly on time? Maybe you should just drive a car.

Posted by Bus Rider | November 9, 2006 11:04 AM

Whoo-hoo! What a way to open a can of stink. If you're not careful, you'll have a protest with gigantic puppets, die-ins, and bad poetry outside your office.

With that said, I think that the disabled have every right to ride the express buses that you do. All an express bus is, is a bus with limited stops. It's not supposed to be any faster covering territory.

Light rail will be much better for the disabled in terms of accomodations and boarding. (I'm sure that's a provacative statement, perhaps deserving of it's own bad poem, but it's true)

Posted by Anybody can ride public transit, sweetie-darling. | November 9, 2006 11:05 AM

And re: no. 33 - I've been riding the bus in Seattle for five years.

Posted by ECB | November 9, 2006 11:06 AM

To Ivan and others who claim that this is why you drive...don't you get caught in traffic because of stupid drivers and their stupid accidents? Should we ban the old, the distracted, and the incompetent from driving?

To Erica and others who bitch about transit in this town. Yeah, it sucks we don't have rail or a monorail. But our bus system does pretty well by comparison with other cities. Your long time fascination with bashing bus service continues to baffle me.

Nothing in life is without challenges, especially transportation. Lighten up or take an earlier bus if you really need to make sure you are there on time.

Posted by bus rider | November 9, 2006 11:07 AM

Why are you blaming me and other disabled folks for your lack of planning? Go to bed earlier, and wake up earlier, take an earlier bus, not that hard to a smart person like you to figure out... anyway, what the fuck, is Dan Savage going to write-up for coming to work 20 min. late? Are you loosing 20 minutes of pay because you clocked in late? you're a reporter, so give me a break.

You know, it could have been a flooded street that made your bus late, could have been a packed standing-room-only-because-it-is-raining-out bus that made you late, but it wasn't. You know, folks in wheelchairs do have jobs, not all live off welfare, sec-8, and med checks.

Let me guess though, those were power chairs? those can be a bitch to control, expecially with jerks like you who I would suspect NEVER lifts her feet, NEVER moves to another chair, or stands, or if you do, it is NEVER WITHOUT A HUFF, NEVER WITHOUT A DIRTY, STINK-EYE GLARE, and NEVER WITHOUT AN UNDER THE BREATH COMMENT.

hey Erica,anyways, how long can you sit until your ass falls asleep much less until bloody pressure sores develop huh? Count your blessing and hope that you never need to use a wheelchair, much less plan your life around it.

Your ignorance and lack of understanding and respect by this post just goes to show that we disabled have a long way to go in becoming equal.

Posted by Disabled Adult | November 9, 2006 11:08 AM

Aye, the 7.

The 7 is just a terrible route due to its length and numerous stops, even as an express. Hell, it'd be much worse had they not separated the old 7 into the current 7 and the 49. Both routes are poorly timed, crowded, and the drivers that drive those routes have similarly terrible attitudes, as well as being irresponsible. I don't think they're overseen or managed that well at all.

I would never consider living in the Rainier Valley, just for the crappiness of the bus service alone.

Posted by Gomez | November 9, 2006 11:10 AM

The posts are coming hot and heavy. I posted #36, not #33.

BTW--Metro is buying low floor buses for the new BRT-lite lines with curb bulbs to make loading seamless. The newer buses also kneel and have a better ramp system to make loading easier.

Posted by another bus rider | November 9, 2006 11:11 AM

Personally, I think Erica's just suffering from comments envy of Charles and his "men don't cry" efforts. You should be hitting 100 in an hour or so. Quicker if the national disabled-rights folks get a whiff of this.

Posted by Fnarf | November 9, 2006 11:11 AM

I understand the frustration, but it's simply not legal under the ADA.

But maybe you can get a protest group together, and have people in wheel chairs get on a bus, get all buckled in, then as the bus pulls away pull the cord for the next stop. Get unbuckled, get off, and wait for the next bus to do the same thing.

Hopefully the light rail will avoid this, as a wheelchair-bound person could just zip on and zip off, without having to negotiate a tight corner and strap in.

Posted by him | November 9, 2006 11:13 AM

I rode the bus for my first nine years in Seattle, and it sounds to me like you had a shitty driver. Whenver I rode the bus, a wheelchair passenger could get on in about the same time as six or seven walking people, or quicker than one person digging around in their backpack muttering, "I know my pass is in here somewhere."

Posted by Gitai | November 9, 2006 11:13 AM

ecb @ 32
oh ..and the #9 (i've deduced that you were riding a # 9 ) ran every half hour all the way to the u district all day until a year ago, when metro pulled it.
the 7 also ran entirely to the u district, but now runs downtown where passengers have to catch another bus. so now wheelchair bound riders have to catch 2 buses . imagine twice the frustration for them now. and the weekends when the service (#9) is curtailed altogether? you better pack a lunch, and a change of clothes if you want to get from beyond rainier valley to say fremont or ballard.

Posted by riz | November 9, 2006 11:14 AM

Late for work? Hey, you work at the Stranger. Don't you guys get two hangover days a month or something?

Posted by J.R. | November 9, 2006 11:17 AM

I don't have a problem with the disabled riding the bus. The only thing that bugs me is the beeping when the ramp goes in and out. Can't it just tastefully chime or something?

Luckily, those buses seem to be getting phased out in favor of the new knelling buses. The re-vamped bus tunnel won't even need the buses to kneel. Everything will be at platform level, or so I'm told.

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | November 9, 2006 11:18 AM

Old people are slow. Why don't we ban them too?

Posted by j | November 9, 2006 11:19 AM

I think Erica may beat Mudede's pregnant sex posting yet...

Posted by another bus rider | November 9, 2006 11:21 AM

Erica: ARE YOU MAD?! "Should the handicapped be banned from express buses?" No.

How in the living stratosphere is this a matter for debate? A ridiculous, irresponsible, borderline fascist question to ask, and you should know better.

In other words, great blog!

Posted by Matt Davis | November 9, 2006 11:23 AM

Incidently, on the 36 this morning, I sat to the left of a dude with a live possum in a bag and the the right of a dude who kept proclaiming his love for crack. Smelled like a bad sweaty pet store.

I would strongly endorse banning possums and crack heads.

Posted by j | November 9, 2006 11:24 AM

Fuck the 'ADA say's you can't' argument, simple human decency says you can't.

Maybe, if you whine enough, you can have your very own special white people who deserve to get to work on time everyone else be damned bus as well.

You stupid fuck.

Posted by Oneiros Dreaming | November 9, 2006 11:26 AM

Wow Erica, you must have been in a horrible mood to post this horrible topic. At least you are not in a horrible mood while in a wheelchair, now that would be worse.

Posted by Deacon Seattle | November 9, 2006 11:29 AM

haha This post had to have been the least disguised troll I've ever seen.

Posted by Spec | November 9, 2006 11:32 AM

Right On Erica. I hate those wheelchair lifts too, they always make me late to my software job. I moved here from Chicago to live in a twenty first century high tech eco-paradise not the special Olympics. Also there's a couple of really, really, fat people who ride my bus who take up two seats for their lard butts. If your ass takes two bus seats you should have to pay double fare.

Posted by Fat People should pay double | November 9, 2006 11:35 AM

I wanted to second Riz's comments about the Access service--it is really not practical for many people and many trips--if someone is going to a doctor appointment, they probably need plan to show up an hour early to make sure they aren't late, and then may wait for an hour afterwards before the Access van shows up.

And I too recommend spending some time traveling with a wheelchair-bound person--it gives you insight into how little access there still is even with the ADA. Hell, try getting around for a week with an injured foot and you'll already start to see how tough it is.

There are clearly other real solutions (besides taking an earlier bus or being more tolerant)--newer technology, bus driver education, etc. Let's advocate for those.

Posted by Amanda | November 9, 2006 11:37 AM

"For the negative: The Americans with Disabilities Act guarantees reasonable accomodation [sic] to public facilities to all handicapped people. . . . Therefore it’s unjust to exclude people with the misfortune of being handicapped . . ."

No. Law and justice are different things. We need a sense of justice independent of law to decide this question, that is, to decide whether the law is correct.

I believe the ADA is just. And I believe that you, ECB, namesake of classic sandwich, propose a false dilemma. We can have fast, reliable buses that accommodate disabled riders -- if we are willing to invest in our bus system.

Posted by Bacon Cheese Egg | November 9, 2006 11:39 AM

Tears of sorrow for yuour being late to work and why should the crippled have the same right to ride the fast busses.


It is not fair Erica, hot shot like you should have her own monorail car by now.

Posted by JACKIE | November 9, 2006 11:41 AM

Post #37 says it all.
This post is kind of, umm.
"greater good dictates..."
that can't be serious.

I think it's a responsibility of non-disabled folks to recognize the ways in which we CREATE disability (to create that which is not able-- in this case, not able to take the same quick bus) in not pushing for transportation that that is fast an accessible for EVERYONE.

Look at places like Stockholm. Public transportation is MADE to be accommodating for disability-- and transit moves FAST. folks, instead of looking away or at their watches, do what they can to speed up the process (in the case of electric chairs, folding stair ramps placed on the back of the chair)...

An attitude that the inconveniencing body is less worth the same possibilities as the body taken for granted is just ridiculous.

Disability Rights is a fairly new movement, but an important one that should be tangible for us all for one big reason:

Disability is something that doesn't discriminate-- at any time, an accident, certain disease or simply ageing can/will likely lead to some form of disability within ones lifetime.

Unless we all demand infrastructure and changes, look to support persons with disabilities-- there could easily come a time when YOU are that person that people sigh at, look at their watches, and wish you would just take another bus.

Try reading something like Joseph Shapiro's No Pity: People with Disability, Forging a New Civil Rights Movement.

Posted by Craig | November 9, 2006 11:44 AM

First, Jackie, "crippled" is gone like "colored."

Second, your post reminds me of those conservatives that scream treason when anyone criticizes the war. ECB rightly points out that disabled riders slow down buses. Now, if we are to improve the situation -- for able and disabled alike -- we need to allow rational, respectful argument.

Posted by Bacon Cheese Egg | November 9, 2006 11:52 AM

also, it looks like Darwinism is dead among liberals.

Posted by Gomez | November 9, 2006 11:53 AM

I nominate "Should the Handicapped Be Banned From Express Buses?" for the most asinine and least thought out slog post for the year of 2006.

Posted by seattl98104 | November 9, 2006 11:53 AM

Hey, street kids are noisy, they have so many bags, and travel in packs, they often delay the bus with their smelly and loud antics... should they be banned?

Posted by seattl98104 | November 9, 2006 11:56 AM

A++++ troll, will definitely read again.

Agreed 100% with comments #7, #11, #37, and #50

Erica your posts almost always rub me the wrong way, but this one is by far the worst. disgusting.

Posted by Investigatory Journalist | November 9, 2006 12:00 PM

no #58
erica wrongly pointed that out.
people, riders and drivers, slow down buses. and her argument wasn't respectful and not really all that rational. it was emotional disguised as rationality. and she's been called on it.
metro can use all sorts of improvements, but further marginalizing the handicapped shouldn't be considerd among them.

Posted by riz | November 9, 2006 12:00 PM

The Sounder trains show how this should be done; they're designed with the needs of the wheelchair users in mind, and the conductors know exactly how to load and unload a wheelchair passenger properly and efficiently. The last two times I rode the train, there were several wheelchair passengers, and not a one of the train stops took any longer than the normal 45-60 seconds.

The older Metro buses don't have very good lifts, but the experienced drivers can line up to the curb quickly, and then hop out, place the ramp and assist the passenger and still keep the bus on schedule. I'd say rather than ranting about the disabled slowing you down, the complaint should go to Metro, requesting that the drivers receive more training in proper loading and unloading of wheelchair passengers.

Posted by Geni | November 9, 2006 12:01 PM

Erica was made late to work by the delays in loading wheelchairs. She asks if wheelchairs should be banned. Why not complain that the wheelchair loading process needs improvement?

I'm periodically made late when an electric trolley bus loses its connection to the overhead cables. The rational response is not to ban electric buses, it's to improve their design.

Metro's job is to make the buses run on time. Making buses run on time means planning for forseeable potential delays. Wheelchair loading is a forseeable potential delay. Blame Metro for not having chosen better-designed buses, or not having conducted thorough enough training.

Posted by Mark | November 9, 2006 12:11 PM

FUNDING! More bus funding would mean more routes, more frequent buses, more seats, and better and much faster access (as other posters have pointed out).

How many people stop taking the bus because of issues like this? More, newer buses would not only increase the number of riders due to more routes, but also bring many more people to the bus who have had bad experiences.

I've managed an office and ordered bus schedules for a display in our lobby, and we always run out within a week or two. We can't order more because the Metro service people tell us that they don't even have enough funding for BUS SCHEDULES!

Posted by jamie | November 9, 2006 12:19 PM

This post is discriminatory and fucked up. I guarantee you that part of the reason people in wheelchairs feel stigmatized and discriminated against is because of attiudes of so called well meaning people like you. I guess you didn't get fired for getting to work 20 minutes late. You should get disciplined for being blatantly discriminatory towards a large group of people.

Posted by No words. | November 9, 2006 12:19 PM

I believe those who use wheelchairs can use any bus they want.

Posted by stephanie pure | November 9, 2006 12:19 PM

This post is discriminatory and fucked up. I guarantee you that part of the reason people in wheelchairs feel stigmatized and discriminated against is because of attiudes of so called well meaning people like you. I guess you didn't get fired for getting to work 20 minutes late. You should get disciplined for being blatantly discriminatory towards a large group of people.

Posted by No words. | November 9, 2006 12:19 PM

This post is discriminatory and fucked up. I guarantee you that part of the reason people in wheelchairs feel stigmatized and discriminated against is because of attiudes of so called well meaning people like you. I guess you didn't get fired for getting to work 20 minutes late. You should get disciplined for being blatantly discriminatory towards a large group of people.

Posted by No words. | November 9, 2006 12:19 PM

Riz 63 -- Well, I can't disagree with you that ECB's post was not the pinnacle of rationality. But I stand by my point that she correctly observed that, given our current buses, riders in wheelchairs make rides longer. I agree with you and with Mark 65 that the right solution is not to "marginalize the handicapped" but to improve our buses.

Posted by Bacon Cheese Egg | November 9, 2006 12:23 PM

This is exactly why I drive to work every single day. Sure Metro is more environmentally friendly, and I could get up an hour earlier than I already do to have enough of a cushion to make it to work at a reasonable hour, but I personally just can't take the aggrevation. I'd much rather sit in traffic on 520 bridge, listening to NPR, than deal with bus. I'm sure that makes me a selfish, evil person, but whatever.

Posted by Chris | November 9, 2006 12:24 PM

I'm for the ban. buses on time=more bus-using people. more bus-use=fewer cars. fewer cars=less careless drivers hitting pedestrians and causing more wheelchair bound folks.

heartless? maybe. reasonable? yeah. probable? not at all.

Posted by z is for xylophone | November 9, 2006 12:29 PM

Z is for Xylophone, you need to have your head Z-rayed.

Posted by Bacon Cheese Egg | November 9, 2006 12:38 PM

Slow and unpredictable buses cost big $$$ -- they attract fewer riders, can't run tight schedules (loose schedules = longer layovers = time we're paying for but not getting bus service), etc.

It might actually be cheaper *and* provide better service to the disabled to expand the Access program and ban wheelchairs from buses.

Posted by Steve | November 9, 2006 12:39 PM

For wheelchair-bound people the bus is their best option for transporation around the city, which got me thinking...

Buses and bus systems best accommodate handicapped and very poor people, for their ease/convenience and price, respectively. There's nothing about a bus that accommodates middle-class commuter needs: rapid, guaranteed, and truly scheduled service. That's why I hate the bus. Give me a monorail or subway or any fixed-line system with guaranteed, rapid service, and I'll duly ride with pleasure.

Anyway, let the handicapped have the buses. They suck.

Posted by Bus-riding bus hater | November 9, 2006 12:43 PM

So here's yet another of the many reasons that mass transit doesn't work in Seattle -- unbelievably selfish assholes like Erica who think the bus should be akin to hiring a limo. There's all kinds of people in the world and there's all kinds of inconveniences when you live in the city. Learn to fucking deal with it, or move back out to the nice, tidy, shiny burbs where you came from, Barnett.

Posted by Get The Stick Outta Your Ass | November 9, 2006 12:44 PM

Sounds like a driver training issue to me. When I've been on buses where wheelchairs need to load, there's never been the "back and forth" issue you described - people fumbling for their money delay buses far more regularly than wheelchair loading.

Let's just ban people without bus passes. Or, more seriously, let's have meters like the newfangled parking meters at major stops, so people can pay before the bus gets there.

Posted by asdf | November 9, 2006 12:44 PM

When I say "They suck" I mean the buses, not handicapped.

I have a slight beef with the ADA though. It's resulted in some awful architecture.

Posted by Bus-riding bus hater | November 9, 2006 12:47 PM

In Las Vegas, the buses along the Strip just run constantly, spread out to stop roughly every 10 minutes. No schedule is kept.

Ron Sims openly daydreamed about a day when routes wouldn't need a schedule. While that's a pipe dream, I don't see why he can't divert some of those Prop 2 funds and expand service on crazy busy routes like the 7X to where this would not be an issue.

Posted by Gomez | November 9, 2006 12:53 PM

1. How often does this actually happen? As many people pointed out, there are a number of things that can slow down express busses. Are you going to try to eliminate all those things too, or are you just going to relax a little and accept that sometimes busses are late and life isn't fair?
2. Have you ever talked to a person with a disability about what it is like for them taking the bus? It's not exactly a picnic.
3. Have you ever talked to a person with a disability at all? From the tone of your post, it sounds to me like you place them entirely in the category of "other." And yes, you seem to suggest that they couldn't possibly have anywhere to go in a hurry or anything important to do. It is insulting to suggest that they could take the non-express busses that run along the same routes. Essentially you are saying,"Hey, all you slow people can just take the slow bus."
4. You should have thought more carefully about your argument (for the affirmative) before using the term "special needs." I think that's sloppy and thoughtless. Equal accomodation under the law is not a special need.

Posted by think | November 9, 2006 12:59 PM

I suppose banning the handicapped from express buses is a little extreme but I admit that when I first read the post it sounded good to me. This is probably because I was immediately reminded of all the people I've seen demand the lift who didn't really need it (i.e. they just had a lot of shopping or a stroller they were too lazy to fold up). I didn't know about the ACCESS buses. If I were handicapped there is no way I would take Metro if I had the ACCESS option.

I DEFINITELY agree with #9 about eliminating half the residential stops. I had this very discussion with my fella the other day as we took 30 minutes to get from downtown to 15th on 43 and stopped at every single stop.

Posted by B | November 9, 2006 1:07 PM

My own take on the matter is that many young women should be banned from having any sort of public forum. It's too cruel to let them show their stupidity.

Posted by David Sucher | November 9, 2006 1:16 PM

I think what all of you against the ban are forgetting here is that wheelchairs are mini-buses already. They're SEATS with WHEELS. I don't drive my car onto a large trailer to get to work. The disabled in wheelchairs need *more* mobility? I'd kill for built-in wheels!

Posted by SHT | November 9, 2006 1:17 PM

Well, I doubt anyone is reading any of these posts, but yes, it's in the whole cost benefit scheme of things the wheelchair on the express bus is a big loser. IF you MITIGATED the loss to the wheelchair bound with free taxis or shuttles you could make a good case for banning them from express buses.

Posted by chris | November 9, 2006 1:17 PM

Get your ass out of bed earlier if you want to ensure you get to work on time.

Posted by drrew | November 9, 2006 1:25 PM

Is it fair??? This is the real world sweetcheeks, very little is truly "fair" Is it fair that the person is in a wheelchair to begin with? Whats not fair is that there are some of you out there who are so self absorbed that you feel that you should never have to be the least bit inconvenienced, especially not when it comes to accommodating a fellow human being! Say it ain't so! Ever hear of compassion? You might wanna give it a try. You never know when your entire life can take a turn for the worse and you wind up being the one who needs it.

Posted by your conscience | November 9, 2006 1:26 PM

While this is a concept, the problem is that the Express lines do not, in fact, travel the exact same route as the Local lines. For example, the 5 Express diverts many blocks from the 5 Local, and some neighborhoods are only served by the 358 Express and have no other local service - unless you can go 20 blocks (not easy in a wheelchair).

Until that aspect changes, just sit down and STFU.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 9, 2006 1:31 PM

Soooooo... how does everyone feel about the viaduct?


An idea for mitgating long routes like the 7 is not to cut stops, to do express routes the way we do express elevators in towers: do multiple express routes on different segments of the route. One route stops on the first third, then goes straight to the end. Another route does the next third, then goes straight to the end, etc.

Posted by Gomez | November 9, 2006 1:32 PM

Gomez, we love the Viaduct.

But, to "Whoo-hoo! What a way to open a can of stink. If you're not careful, you'll have a protest with gigantic puppets, die-ins, and bad poetry outside your office." - actually, I could arrange that.

Anyway, all I know is the County just announced they are DOUBLING frequency of service on the 44 bus - which is the correct solution to your wheelchair "problem" - more frequent service means delayed busses get passed by less delayed busses.

Too bad we didn't build a monorail for one-tenth the cost of Greg's Underwater Tunnel, huh? Those board wheelchairs FAST.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 9, 2006 1:40 PM

B @ 82..
perhaps you didn't read my post correctly (#30) ther are enough restrictions for riding access buses that the term is as meaningful for the service as 'special' is for education. it's a term to help people feel better about a situation that is for most is incomprehensibly unfortunate.
and sht@84 is an ass. a motorized wheelchair isn't a fancy mini car for lazy fucks like you who would rather ride than's a small(and often quite uncomfortable) assist to helping an individual remain mobile and independant. but if you'd like to trade your legs for a 'seat with wheels' i'm sure it could be arranged.

Posted by riz | November 9, 2006 1:42 PM


I like your idea and let me elaborate a bit.

In addition what about restricting passengers solely to people who can't walk or take a bike? It doesn't seem right to me that a young woman who can walk, ride a bike etc etc should be taking up bus space from people who realloy need to ride on it. All she has to do is get up a bit earlier etc and walk. It's healthy. It's sustainable. And riding a bus just reinforces our vehicle-dependency. So if you really care about getting rid of the Viaduct I say buy walking shoes.

Of course I know that there is a counter-argument among some young people that we should follow the Eskimo practice: people over, say, fifty should be forced to the edge of the world to live by themselves in the wilderness and forced to fend for themselves so as to not inconvenience trendy young writers.

Posted by David Sucher | November 9, 2006 1:46 PM

Gomez @ 59: Uh, Darwinism is a scientific theory, not a social policy. You're thinking of eugenics. Which, you're correct, is not generally a liberal philosophy.

Posted by K | November 9, 2006 1:51 PM

Let me point out, AGAIN (as I did in my original post - I really do wish people would read a little more slowly and thoroughly) that I'm just putting this out there for discussion. This post arose out of an argument that took place on this very bus, in this very same situation, in which I argued that handicapped people have every right to use the same buses as abled people. However, there are two points of view here, and I think the opposite POV is an interesting and provocative one.

Posted by ECB | November 9, 2006 1:54 PM

I keep thinking how irritating/frustrating it must be for the wheel-chair bound person to have to deal with a lousy driver who can't assist them to get on and off the bus quickly. They realize that this delay is not helping others and it probably drives them insane or makes them feel embarrassed.

Awhile back I was on a bus and there was a Metro supervisor on the bus monitoring a driver and supervisor told the driver, "the last thing you need to think about is being on time. That can wait." Which I admit pissed me off to a certain degree because that particular driver always always always leaves late and would cause me to miss my transfer point half of the time. So there is always someone who is going to throw things off.

Posted by Gennie | November 9, 2006 1:57 PM

Yeah, nice try Erica (post #94). It's like saying there's two sides to the issue of eugenics (which *is* social darwinism K, you dumbass). Or slavery. Or whether gays should be allowed to be gay.

Posted by Lame Cop-out, ECB | November 9, 2006 1:58 PM

Here's an idea, take an earlier bus so you're not late. I've had buses get delayed for all sorts of reasons. Just take an earlier bus if you want to be on time.

Posted by MW | November 9, 2006 1:59 PM

It's not feasible for everyone to walk to work. Sure, Cap Hill/Queen Anne people might be able to do it going downtown, but walking from Cap Hill to Northgate is simply not an option no matter how healthy a person is. And I admire anyone who is willing to ride the bus that far every day instead of driving. They are entitled to being annoyed. And, as someone else pointed out, already have a long-ass commute and the last thing they want to do is extend their day by trying to catch an earlier bus.

I like this post. I has certainly spurred some healthy debate and it addresses something that is obviously an issue for a lot of us: insufficient buses. Attacking the author is counterproductive. I would also like to point out that responding with snarkiness and/or facetious extreme comments is neither intelligent nor debate.

Posted by B | November 9, 2006 2:03 PM

@90: Doubling service on the 44 won't do anything, unless every other bus is a diesel like on the 36. As it is now, if they double the service on that line, there will be a bunch of electric trolleys lined up behind each other on 45th.

Posted by Justin J | November 9, 2006 2:05 PM

Let's stop the name calling and think about this from an economic perspective.

The question is, does justice demand an equal service, or an equivalent service?

Think about it this way. If 100 people making, say, $10/hr are 15 minutes late for work, the cost to society is $250 in lost productivity. If each of four special needs passengers took a private car service from Bellevue at a cost of $50 each to the taxpayers, the net social benefit is still higher than the costs of using the bus ramp.

Back to the original question. In this case, the equivalent service is a superior outcome for both special needs and other passengers, as they both get to their destinations more quickly. The special needs passengers incur an additional cost relative to the equal service, in that they have to make a call for a pick up and probably suffer some additional non-economic indignity.

Maybe we say that we're willing to bear the higher costs of equal service because of our feelings of sympathy, or the satisfaction we get out of helping those with special needs, etc., but we should at least be clear about what the costs of this service are.

Posted by Matski | November 9, 2006 2:05 PM

what pisses me off, is when fat people insist on the bus sending down the ramp for their lazy fat selves. wheelchairs i can deal with, fat bastards need to climb more stairs, not get lifts.

Posted by fat_hater | November 9, 2006 2:08 PM

Heavy Rain
Mariners Games
Seahawks Games
Big Concerts
Lame HOV lane planning on SR-520

Fight the real enemy.

Disabled people? Erica, you realize that *anyone* could be disabled at any given time, no matter the age, due to any type of accident, right? This could be you one day. It may not last more than a week, but when you need to get that Express Bus to the hill on crutches, and you're denied because someone decided to take you up on your suggestion, you'd surely be feeling like an idiot.

Heh, maybe you are just competing with Mudede's best.

Now, what if this was BUJU BANTON in a wheelchair delaying you? That's a more interesting debate.

Posted by matthew fisher wilder | November 9, 2006 2:10 PM

Yes, Erica, the point of view that people in wheelchairs should just go fuck off and find their own way to work is, indeed "interesting and provocative".

THEY are not slowing YOU down. YOU are not the bus, nore are YOU the whole of the public. The time it takes to load everyone on and off is the time it takes, period. Some people take longer than others to get on the bus, and their rights to bus service are IDENTICAL TO YOURS.

You really don't have an argument here, or at least not one that a decent person wants to be seen making.

Posted by Fnarf | November 9, 2006 2:13 PM

erica: i read through your post three times before commenting, just to be sure that you were really proposing such an audacious idea.

you may have argued against such a notion while on the bus this morning (and i hope to god the person in the wheelchair was out of earshot) but your post seems slanted toward the notion of banning wheelchairs from express buses.

a cursory glance at your pro-ban argument reveals many more reasons to enact such an egregious plan than the anti-ban reasoning does. and, come on, the header to this post is pretty sensational.

i realize that you were, perhaps, trying to not make a personal opinion when presenting the argument but, i think that the 97 posts (and climbing) will attest to the fact that it seems pretty inflammatory.

Posted by kerri harrop | November 9, 2006 2:14 PM


>And I admire anyone who is willing to >ride the bus that far every day >instead of driving. They are entitled >to being annoyed.

This is the cherry on the cake that is this thread.


How often exactly? 24 hours a day? Or just while in the Annoyances Free Zone? Do I annoy as I enter? Or do I annoy when I leave?

Posted by matthew fisher wilder | November 9, 2006 2:15 PM

riz@91: I'm doing just that. I put an order today for a Segway. Now I can have the benefits of wheels and not have to depend on the bus. I still have to stand, though, so those in wheelchairs still have a comfort advantage.

I may use it in the office, too. If nothing else, I'll have a valid reason to use the "big" stall. I feel like a king in there.

Posted by SHT | November 9, 2006 2:15 PM

Seattle is often cited as the birthplace of the modern disability rights movement.

From Wikipedia:

John Tyler, born in the twentieth century, was an advocate for the rights of the disabled who was himself disabled with severe polio. He parked his wheelchair in front of Metro buses in Seattle, Washington, U.S.A. in the late 1970s.

Tyler committed suicide in 1984. Perhaps a small step towards solving ECB's transportation delays.

Posted by Irony Is Apparently Not The Only Thing That's A Bitch | November 9, 2006 2:16 PM

re: #94

That's bullshit Erica. Your post is ridiculous and inflammatory. it's filled with outdated terms and ways of thinking.

"Just putting it out there" is you not taking responsibility for your own stupidity. What is obvious to everyone else to be a simple question of transit that needs an upgrade was apparently lost on you.

Don't blame the fact that you are getting your ass handed to you by angry readers on slow or un-thorough reading.

If anything, I would encourage you to take more time and think about what you write and how it comes across-- which, for the record, is cloying and grossly uneducated about disability.

Posted by Craig | November 9, 2006 2:20 PM

The quick answer to ECB: Move to Vancouver. The buses there have a convenient pole in the center by the door NOT just to streamlime bus riders in and out but purely to say "Fuck You" to those crabby, slow people in those clunky cripple larks.

Posted by matthew fisher wilder | November 9, 2006 2:21 PM

@105. To being annoyed with the inferiority of the bus system. Not with handicapped people. I suppose I should have clarified before. But I'm glad I could bring the cherry.

I am also entitled to be annoyed with how reactionary people can be on blogs.

Posted by B | November 9, 2006 2:22 PM

As a fat, fat, man, I love looking at all your faces when I request the lift at 3rd and Bell and get off one stop later at 3rd and Virginia. Especially when I make you get out of your seat so I can sit at the front of the bus for those blissful two minutes. God bless Metro.

Posted by fat_lover | November 9, 2006 2:23 PM

Fact: I've seen kids on the Vancouver Skytrain *kick a disabled person off* at a random stop because he was taking too much space on the cable car. The man in that wheelchair wasn't doing anything wrong or annoying anyone at all.

I guess he wasn't entitled to be annoyed or annoying, since one apparently needs functioning limbs to qualify for that entitlement.

Posted by matthew fisher wilder | November 9, 2006 2:23 PM

'non economic indignity'
.. i've been made speechless by that one..
not quite, erica the diseenting pov is that the discussion that you're trying to foster is at the expense of segment of the population - you named wheelchair commuters and not inept metro drivers or poor transit service- who you've feel are responsible for your inconvience. any attempt to to rationalize it any other way is wrongheaded if not hateful. i appreciate that you might just be wondering aloud an interesting idea, but you continue to do so from a vantage point of your mobility. and your post seems heartless because it doesn't seem to consider that wheelchair bound commuters have valid needs and concerns, or that they can even read your innocent musings.

Posted by riz | November 9, 2006 2:26 PM



Never Mind! ;-D

[/emily latella]

Posted by matthew fisher wilder | November 9, 2006 2:26 PM

Passengers in Vancouver can kick off whomever they choose? Or was this a rogue gang of troubled teens who commandeered car? Vancouver sounds like a scary place.

PS: I'm annoyed that you still think I meant people are entitled to be annoyed at the handicapped even after I clarified my comment.

Posted by B | November 9, 2006 2:29 PM

Hard to believe that a leftist is even raising such a question about the disabled. isn't that going against the idea of "inclusiveness" and not being "mean-spirited"?

Posted by Bunny | November 9, 2006 2:37 PM

If you were in the same position, I'd gladly give up two minutes of my life to see you safely off my bus.

Posted by lalababa | November 9, 2006 2:55 PM

This is the most awesome slog post ever.

Posted by let's get some shoes | November 9, 2006 2:55 PM

Folks in wheelchairs probably don't enjoy making people wait either.

It's a totally fair question. It's not wrong to consider trade-offs.

Turning a 30 minute ride into a 50 minute ride means more people taking cars.

Let's say there are 40 people on the bus. 40 people * 20 minutes = 13.33 hours. At $6/hour that's $80. That'll pay for two cabs anywhere in Seattle. How about if we just give the wheelchair bound free cab rides?

You can choose to pay in time or money, but either way there's no free lunch.

Posted by chris | November 9, 2006 2:57 PM

Entitlement is a state of mind perceived as a social construct.

I find foolish anyone who says that one is entitled to anything. You are entitled to NOTHING. It can be given to you and taken away therefrom at any time.

Posted by Gomez | November 9, 2006 2:59 PM

I'm with restricting wheelchairs to non-express only. If I could get someone to pick me up AT MY DOOR and take me to the next door for only 75 Cents WHY WOULD I BOTHER TO RIDE WITH THE GREAT UNWASHED DAY IN AND DAY OUT!!!
(c'mon we've all rode on the 43 with the dude that smells like spoiled orange juice in his wheelchair at 5pm on a 90 degree day)

Posted by Matthew | November 9, 2006 3:07 PM

I think we should get rid of all the buses, as they apparently create the illusion that Seattle has a working transit system. It doesn't. The fact that a few people in wheelchairs can cause such disruption to the morning commute proves it.

We need a rail system, and we need more roads -- and we need to stop screwing around with buses, monorails, and other transportation systems more suited to Disneyland than a city of a million people.

Posted by jvon | November 9, 2006 3:08 PM

Matski: it doesn't have any fucking thing at all to do with sympathy or special needs. It has to do with EQUAL MOTHERFUCKING RIGHTS. Why is this so hard for you people to understand? It's against the law, and against any kind of decency to provide a public service that excludes a large segment of the population.

The people in wheelchairs are NOT TAKING ANYTHING AWAY FROM YOU. They're not taking "too much time"; they're taking the amount of time they need. YOU are proposing taking from THEM. Their right to use the service is IDENTICAL to yours.

I find it astonishing that on a supposedly liberal, progressive blog the concept of equal rights is so difficult for people to wrap your heads around.

Posted by Fnarf | November 9, 2006 3:19 PM

Erica @94

yeah, the opposite point of view, is provocative, but there is no debate, just you and another person grouching about a bus being late. As was pointed out about the record breaking rainy weather as a point of bitching, you choose instead to fixate over the disabled instead of the crappy road conditions or the general low level of funding public transportation receives in the City budget. A nice socially conservative post: pick on those least likely to defend themselves... I am glad to see how many folks are actually standing up for the disabled.

The answer to the "debate" was solved long ago: ACCESS. This is a service run by METRO, and anyone who is ADA qualified can be picked up from any address and dropped off at any address... perhaps what the "opposite POV" is in favor of is a policy for METRO to require anyone with ADA qualification to take the "short bus" and not ride on the general routes. That way, disabled folks have their needs met, and for abled folks, the disabled are all out of sight and all out of mind. At least on the "express" bus during peak commuter hours, when the productive citizens are on their way to work, anyways.

Posted by Phenics | November 9, 2006 3:23 PM

A lot of the delay in getting wheelchairs on the bus is do to lack of funding. Better equipment could get wheelchairs on and off busses more quickly. Why not work for better access for people with disabilities instead of less?

Or how about this: spend 2 days in a wheelchair and then see if you’d write the same thing that you did today.

Posted by me | November 9, 2006 3:26 PM

OK, wait a minute: if it's all about equal rights then why do the handicapped get to park for free at meters?

Posted by CURTIS E. FLUSH | November 9, 2006 3:27 PM

Or why do they get to park their cars closest to every building with a parking lot?

Posted by Or even | November 9, 2006 3:29 PM

Hey, it's working - you're sacrificing a reasonable and decent public persona in favor of the attention that being an asshole pundit gets you. I don't usually read your stuff, but I read this. I'm sure there's a gap in the market for a liberal Rush Limbaugh. Go for it. But I don't believe that you really actually think that wheelchairs are *your* problem!

Posted by K | November 9, 2006 3:34 PM

did YOU read the eligibilty requirements before you added to your original post a few hours later. you have to prove that your disabilty disallows you to use regularly provided metro service ( service that includes regular handicapped buses).you have to qualify for eligibilty at an in person evaluation to take place at harborview, and then eligiblity may take up to 21 days to be confirmed. and then you may have to be re-certfied 'periodically'.. THEN you may be picked up within a 3/4 radius on either side of a commuter line and then only during commuter hours ( if you work late and on weekends? )
for the ones who might qualify for door to door service, they have to arrange for that service 24 hours in advance. and i understand that this service is not available on a DAILY basis.
so the addition to your original post is designed to mislead rather than inform whcih makes the post much much less than innocent than i thought. if you're not going to use your better heart and judgement on this, please please PLEASE pause, investigate, presents facts clearly,and THEN rationalize or give up this buisness altogether

Posted by riz | November 9, 2006 3:50 PM

That's it. I'm going to file an inituative for 2007 that will DEREGULATE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION!

Everyone wins, because it's the free non-driving market! Isn't it GREAT?!! :-D

Posted by matthew fisher wilder | November 9, 2006 3:51 PM

Yes, I am glad you all found this post to be so "provocative" and i hope you found it amusing and were "provoked" by forcing disabled people to justify their existence and explain why they should not be segregated from the rest of society, and why they should be allowed to have basic civil rights and stuff (like the right to sit in the front of the bus; i don't think the back of the bus is wheelchair friendly). Maybe next week you can provoke yourselves to death with other stupid topics like:
1. potential pitfalls of miscegnation?
2. Genocide: A cost benefit analysis
3. Voting Machines: are they sentient beings or not?

Posted by WTF?! | November 9, 2006 3:55 PM

Want to improve public transit?

Insist every single candidate for office and elected official can only get around using public transit - not vanpools, not HOV, not cabs - bus, rail, monorail, light rail.

It will suddenly get fixed real fast.

Don't believe me? Just drive down to Olympia and notice all those nice highway roads ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 9, 2006 3:58 PM

Someinfo re: ACCESS

ACCESS transportation is not a viable substitute for the disabled people who can take the standard bus because the fact that they *can* take the standard bus disqualifies them from getting ACCESS service for that ride.

Posted by felix | November 9, 2006 4:02 PM

In response to Gomez #28. No it is not reasonable to expect that ST bureaucrats are capable of proper stewardship of the public funds. Take for instance ST flat out wastes 4,500 service hours annually running Express Bus service to 9th & Commerce which duplicates to within one block at both ends and the entire route Tacoma Link Light Rail. This has been pointed out by yours truly for four + years yet they have no intention of doing anything about it. My take on it is that Tacoma and pierce County elected officials and decision makers want to provide multiple layers of public transportation (subsidized by taxpayers) so that they themselves, their family members and close business associates will be able to use that as a marketing tool on the condo projects they have economic interests in.

Posted by JDH | November 9, 2006 4:04 PM

ditto 131...

one shouldn't suggest "provocative" discussion about whether we should limit legally required public accomodation to a protected class of people w/o expecting the response to be a resounding, "you sound like a bigot for even asking," kind of a response...

Posted by LH | November 9, 2006 4:14 PM

Fuck you, LH. It's not about a "protected class of people", unless by that you mean Americans. What YOU are advocating is establishing a class of people who are excluded.

Posted by Fnarf | November 9, 2006 4:33 PM

Sounds like it was the driver who couldn't line the bus up who really slowed it down.

Posted by mary | November 9, 2006 4:38 PM

fnarf, I agree that LH's wordchoice isn't great, but there's a lot of that in this thread. Their overall point about the ridiculous/awful "provocative" nature of this post is right.

Posted by Craig | November 9, 2006 4:40 PM

Your defense of this post @94 seems pretty weak, ECB.

You are clearly favoring one position over another in this post, not just putting the idea out for debate. Your last sentence asks if you should "get over it." I think that says it all. Accusing your detractors of being reactionary and not reading carefully is a low blow and a diversion.

Also, as others have pointed out, if this were about any other minority group, no one would argue that "just putting it out there" excuses it.

TOPIC! Should Blacks Be Allowed To Live On My Street? DISCUSS!

Wouldn't fly, would it? Presenting a discriminatory idea as a "debate" doesn't absolve you of guilt. Think of the gay marriage "debate." The right pretends there are legitimate, rational reasons to deny some people rights that others enjoy, and we go nuts on them. This is quite similar.

The progressive point of view is that there aren't two sides to these kinds of issues. Equal rights are equal rights, period. Convenience for the majority is not a factor.

Posted by Blecchh | November 9, 2006 4:41 PM

Not to mention that Access is incredibly expensive to operate--about $29 at ride, last I checked, much of it federal or state money.

Folks who whine about bus service need to realize that there aren't infinite resources. Metro could offer more services if they raised fares to $3.00, but should they? King County could devote general funds now spent on human services to bus service. Should they?

I am sorry that there aren't infinite resources for buses. I guess all of you who want a perfect world will just have to move to...

Posted by another bus rider | November 9, 2006 4:46 PM

Re #126: Last I checked, *all* handicapped people do *not* get to park free at parking meters -- only people who have a disability that prevents them from feeding the meter.

ECB's story reminds me of something that happened when wheelchair lifts were introduced in Detroit. They started breaking at an alarming rate. No one could figure out why. Finally they realized the *drivers* were breaking them at the start of their shift, because stopping to load handicapped people onto the bus was making them run behind schedule. Heartless, and I don't agree with it, but in a sense it was a logical reaction to the job they were confronted with.

The underlying problem here is your unrealistic expectations about mass transit. Buses are always slow. Buses are always late. (Trains are only a little better -- Amtrak routinely arrives *hours* late at destinations.) If you need to get somewhere quickly, or you need to arrive within a narrow time window, you probably shouldn't be taking the bus.

Posted by Orv | November 9, 2006 4:55 PM

Lots of people take extra time... people with kids, because with lots of stuff, like a few bags of groceries, some elderly people, people who aren't paying attention, people who don't have their exact change (or similar payment) ready... So, which people are deserving enough?

Instead of saying that some people aren't allowed to use this service (but they can use this separate service that is almost equal), make the service more accessible. The reason it takes ages is because the buses (and possibly the public transit system) is poorly designed to accomodate wheelchairs. Fix that and you don't have to segregate. You'll probably appreciate that when you're older and people decide that you're one of the unworthy.

On a side note, did it ever cross your mind that the person in the wheelchair has almost everything they do in their whole life take more time because of their disabilities? Maybe express buses should only be for the disabled who need them more, afterall, you save all that time by being able-bodied and can easily catch an earlier bus. Then it'd take roughly the same time for everyone.

Posted by Rachel | November 9, 2006 5:14 PM

Barnett deserves praise for starting a challenging thread. Several good observations arose about transit.

Lift deployments do impose travel time costs on other bus riders. Access service is very costly. What is the appropriate balance?

Metro may have been the first transit agency to have 100 percent lift equipped buses. They were good for mainstreaming. But they were also slow to buy low floor coaches. Both the 40 and 60 foot electric trolleybuses will be high floor until about 2014. There are also hundreds of high floor diesels that will be on the street for most of this decade. New buses are low floor. The ramp deployment is much faster than the lift deployment. Low floor coaches allow all riders to get on and off more quickly. Now, if Metro would just collect fares faster by using all its doors. What about stop spacing?

Route 7 still is often bunched up despite the split. The ST south-first Link LRT construction has impacted the reliability of routes 42 and 48. Some term it the forty-late. So, it happens to diesels too.

Posted by eddiew | November 9, 2006 5:15 PM

If these people were in institutions like they should be, this wouldn't even be a issue. Anyway, here come the laws suits!

Posted by Mean & Heartless | November 9, 2006 5:21 PM

1. I thought you were cool, but you're a straight whiny--anydangway.
2. 20 minutes late...and then three frickin' hours of online masturbation with this post. I'd give you a verbal warning if I was your boss.
3. "what do y'all think"? I think you should go get a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) certificate and tend a handicapable for a day. And then pray to God to grant you a little compassion and patience.
4. I hope your busride tomorrow goes better for ya

Posted by Jacob | November 9, 2006 5:55 PM

if you want to get to work on time.why are you riding a bus?i agree express means just thatfaster,so there should be some restictions,maybe during peak hours???personally i wouldn't ride a bus,get a car park 9n a garage then the bus.Drive to a park and ride so it just goes from point a to point b very few stops.i would still use a car.

Posted by George | November 9, 2006 6:20 PM

It's mean-spirited to even be asking these questions. You must be handicapped-ist!

Posted by Bunny | November 9, 2006 6:33 PM

Will has a GREAT idea that I totally agree with in #132.

Also, JDH, huh?! Link doesn't run during many hours, thus the ST route DOES have a purpose on weekends and times at night, and plus it eliminates a transfer step, which can waste as much as 30-60 minutes one way, by continuing into Tacoma instead of stopping at the first Link station, dumping everyone and turning around.

Seriously, dude, that's a pretty stupid thing to nail them for. There's a lot of ST haterade that really isn't warranted. Some is... much of it isn't.

Posted by Gomez | November 9, 2006 6:34 PM

Erica, ride a bike to work if you don't like it, and be thankful that you can.

Posted by bunny | November 9, 2006 7:12 PM

Hey SHT, you fucking prick...wheelchairs are NOT the eqivalent to a"mini bus" A)they are illeagal on street B) a manual(push) chair would take to much toll on the person's body as well as be very time consuming.C) It would still take a long time as well as kill the batteries in powerchair. and in response to another one of your responses...owning a segway DOES NOT entitle to using the accessible's for people who need it... not lazy fucks who don't want to walk.
Erica, you self centered thing your inconveienced? Try need the"special" stall or parking space but not having access because some completely able jerk has taken it....get real..we have rights to.

Posted by disabled lady | November 9, 2006 7:31 PM


Here's a real debate for you and your readers:

Disabled workers, in record numbers are losing their jobs because employers don't want to pay for medical insurance.
People who have had their jobs for years, because of rising medical costs and lack of interest in complying with the ADA, are being fired.

This is not right nor is it equality for all.


Posted by blubeagle | November 9, 2006 8:08 PM

ECB, you're showing progress - pretty soon you'll see "progressives" for what they are - herd-thinking attackers of rationality.

Let me introduce a hypothetical situation so that the "progressives" here can re-educate me:

There's a Starbucks with 10 parking spaces, one of which is a "disabled" space. All spaces except for this "disabled" space are occupied. There is no street parking available. I am not "disabled." Do I have a right to use this space? If not, then why? Do "disabled" individuals have a greater right to coffee than me?

Posted by caphillcontrarian | November 9, 2006 8:45 PM

I'm a Metro driver. Some of my BEST customers are handicapped, and I will stop for them in a heart beat over rider's like Erica. Handicapped riders already wait VERY patiently for all of the insensitive riders who blow right past them and then don't have change, transfer or card ready so now everyone else is waiting for your lazy butt to get on the bus as well. This is not a limosine service. It is a well organized community service that carries nearly a million riders every year. Metro promises that we will get you there, it does not promise that you will never be late. That would require a magician considering the traffic load these days and none of the drivers are magicians. If you NEED to get to work at a particular time buy a car.

Posted by intransit | November 9, 2006 9:06 PM

Sure, barring disabled people from taking express buses is not a legitimate proposal. Moral concerns aside, it's a non-starter simply because of the Americans with Disabilities Act. But that doesn't make the point Erica raises any less legitimate.

Yes, handicapped people have a right to take public transportation, just like anyone else. But how do you balance that right against marketplace realities? The slower and more unreliable bus service is, the less likely it is that people who have a choice will choose to take the bus. So the only fast and reliable way to get to work on time is to drive? Well, even if that were true, is that really the reality that we as a city and a region want to be encouraging?

Consumers shouldn't have to make the environmentally conscientious choice as an individual sacrifice. They should choose to do things like ride public transportation because it's in their individual self-interest. It's the responsibility of society and government to set up the playing field to make sure it is in the self-interest of a significant portion of the populace to do the right thing.

There seems to be a certain collective hypocrisy in Seattle that refuses to acknowledge people are consumers while at the same time people merrily go on their way acting as consumers. I'm reminded of the outcry in support of the right of homeless people to panhandle and camp out in the downtown shopping district. Meanwhile, goodness knows how many of the same Seattleites wound up shopping in Bellevue's ever-so tidy shopping district (no homeless people there). It's like self-avowed liberals would rather not achieve liberal ends if the means are the least bit conservative or, for that matter, require the least bit of sacrifice or tough tradeoffs or, well, just change.

Now, if you're willing to acknowledge that boarding delays are a real problem, I can think of a few pragmatic (if not easy) ways to address it:

  • As others have mentioned, ACCESS can be part of the answer. Sure, it's expensive, but besides valuing disabled people's time, we shouldn't discount the value of other bus riders' time or the cost to society of people choosing not to take transit.
  • Real mass transit. With light rail or monorail or subways, this is a non-issue.
  • Real bus rapid transit. One of the hallmarks of true BRT is low-slung buses and high entrance ramps that make wheelchair boarding as transparent as it is on a subway. I'm not sure this is part of the so-called BRT that Metro is supposed to be introducing with the passage of its Transit Now package. If it's not, then it's time we pressured Metro, "If you're going to call it BRT, then make it BRT."

Posted by cressona | November 9, 2006 9:07 PM

I can empathize with the frustration ECB probably felt when she made the original post: there does seem to be a law that the more of a hurry you're in on the bus, the more likely it is that every other stop will have someone using the lift, or a tourist who has to ask for very specific directions to a location no one's heard of, or whatever. But the idea of restricting disabled passengers to non-express buses is ludicrous (and illegal). Others have expounded on it far better than I will be able to, but I will say: people in wheelchairs need to get to work, too. So yes, you need to just get over it.

Posted by genevieve | November 9, 2006 9:10 PM

i use a wheelchair and because of my disability i can't drive. i am also in the clinical training portion of medical school; i work at the hospital about 80 hours per week. like my classmates and the residents who supervise us, i do not have much time for sleep or gossip or going to the grocery store... people in wheelchairs have lives. sometimes our lives are quite busy. why should we be stuck on the slower bus? that's the most prejudiced thing i've heard recently, and people say shockingly dumb things to me all the time.

this issue is as personal for me as gay marriage is for dan savage. i have enough self posession to muster rational arguments about it, but for the record i have to say that reading this slog post was kind of a mental punch in the stomach. the kind of add-up-the-time-and-save-the-most-for-the-majority math that erica started and various others have extended is beside the point for me: i am just as much a citizen as everyone else (just as much a PERSON!), work just as hard, have just as much--or more--need to get from point A to B on public transit... the thought that i don't deserve the same kind of participation in public life and use of public services as others do royally pisses me off. erica said: "The greater good dictates that people with special needs should be restricted to buses that aren’t specifically devoted to fast, reliable service." Fuck that. erica can stick her greater good up her ass. there is nothing good about changing public policy to provide discriminatory, unequal treatment for any group of people. i reject the short end of the stick.

and re:access--it takes forever and a lot of effort to qualify, if you can use the regular (lift-equipped) bus you DON'T qualify even if you are disabled, you have to accept a rediculously huge possible time window for your ride, you have to arrange it ahead of time, you can't modify your schedule on the day of, you can't take more than one companion with you, you can't ride it every day, and generally it just sucks.

Posted by bolo | November 9, 2006 9:13 PM

Re #154: I just have a hard time believing that handicapped people are the real fly in the ointment, here. If you removed all the wheelchair lifts tomorrow, guess what? The buses would still run late, and bus service would still be slow. People are arguing about this because it's a convenient focus for their anger, but it really isn't the problem.

Posted by Orv | November 9, 2006 9:28 PM

Knarf (on 136)--"protected class of people" is a legal term. People of color, women, and disabled people all belong to a "protected class" that means we (I'm black and a woman) are protected by the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment (or legislation like the ADA) from certain government actions.

I think that Metro should build the buses to provide for quick entry and exit for EVERYONE regardless of whether the person is walking, using a cane or in a wheelchair.

Posted by Papayas | November 9, 2006 9:28 PM

In response to #148 Gomez, that would be 4,500 hours of redundant service. This is typical of what I have come to expect from ST's champions. "Let's give one group a multiplicity of options including redundant services, so as not to inconvenience them, while whole areas that pay ST taxes get little or nothing."

Posted by JDH | November 9, 2006 9:29 PM

Orv: Re #154: I just have a hard time believing that handicapped people are the real fly in the ointment, here. If you removed all the wheelchair lifts tomorrow, guess what? The buses would still run late, and bus service would still be slow.

Orv, you're right. Wheelchair accessibility is certainly a secondary reason the buses are slow and unpredictable. But it's also just another reason -- for the sake of the wheelchair-bound as well as everyone else -- to do real BRT.

Anyway, I was seizing on Erica's complaints more as an opportunity to offer a different perspective on how we achieve the common good. Bus riders are consumers, not cattle. And if our transit is vastly inferior to driving (for whatever myriad reasons), then maybe we haven't quite embraced transit.

Posted by cressona | November 9, 2006 9:47 PM

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that transit is always going to be inferior to driving in this area. Transit works great in areas where you have an orderly commute -- inward in the morning, outward in the evening. But here people commute every which way, inward, outward, and from suburb to suburb. There just aren't enough people going from the same place, to the same place, at the same time to make efficient transit service possible. (The Metro Detroit area, where I used to live, has the same problem.)

Posted by Orv | November 9, 2006 9:51 PM

It's never straight up and down.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | November 9, 2006 10:08 PM

Orv: I'm going to go out on a limb and say that transit is always going to be inferior to driving in this area. Transit works great in areas where you have an orderly commute -- inward in the morning, outward in the evening. But here people commute every which way, inward, outward, and from suburb to suburb. There just aren't enough people going from the same place, to the same place, at the same time to make efficient transit service possible.

And this is what's so powerful about mass transit (rail transit). It's not just about getting people from where they already live to where they already work. It has the power to shape people live and work. (Not to mention, there's no question about mass transit being handicapped-accessible.)

Geographically, Seattle is a lot more like New York and San Francisco (cities with great transit and high density) than it is like Phoenix and Houston that just naturally sprawl out in every direction.

As long as the Growth Management Act continues to do its thing and we continue to build light rail, transit will become superior to driving, not for everyone, but for a lot of people. And hey, if Metro decides to do real BRT, maybe that will give driving a run for its money too.

Posted by cressona | November 9, 2006 10:29 PM

all this heated banter is a god damn non sequitor.

you were not late because of the handicapped person, you were late because you rode the bus.

ban the bus system if you want to be on time.

Posted by seattle98104 | November 9, 2006 10:42 PM

You have a point. It's interesting what it's done for property values, where decent mass transit has caught on. Heck, they just took out a big chunk of downtown Auburn to put in expensive condos, now that there's a commuter rail station there. (Which brings up another point -- any place that's served by good mass transit, middle-class types will automatically be priced out of living in.)

Posted by Orv | November 9, 2006 10:45 PM

If it's unreasonable to expect buses to be on time, why does Metro publish schedules with exact arrival and departure times listed? They don't just say "about 8:45," they say 8:43.

Changing the schedules so they say "buses leave the station every 10 minutes between 5 and noon" would be a big step towards getting rid of the expectation of timeliness.

Posted by James | November 9, 2006 10:57 PM

You go Erica! I think you will beat Mudede yet...200 by morning?

Posted by another bus rider | November 9, 2006 10:59 PM

James--Metro publishes exact times because that is what people expect to have if service is infrequent. On the routes that have 10 minute frequency, like the 43, people often don't bother to check the time.

The BRT-lite lines planned by Metro will be low-floor buses, with curb bulbs that extend to the bus at major stops, and they will feature real time info at major junctions that will say the next bus is X minutes away.

But for now, people want schedules and that is the only way Metro can measure driver and route performance.

Posted by another bus rider | November 9, 2006 11:05 PM

I used to catch an express bus into downtown. Going home from work, if there was a mariners game it would often take better than an hour for the bus to reach I-5 because of all the game traffic? How about a ban on Mariners games during the weekday? That cost more time tham 100 wheelchair users boarding the bus would have.

Posted by Bob B | November 9, 2006 11:41 PM

Holy crap.

1. #127, the reason people with mobility impairments "get" to park closer to their destination is the same reason that blind people "get" to bring guide dogs into theirs: These are reasonable accommodations which allow people with disabilities equal access to those destinations, access they would not have otherwise. #152, ditto: If you are forced to park three blocks away, you can still walk to Starbucks. A person with a mobility impairment does not have that same option. These are not perks, people. You're not being cheated out of anything, okay? God.

2. Anyone who thinks paratransit (i.e. Access) offers services equivalent to or even--HA!!--better than public transit has obviously never used paratransit.

3. As to the poster who keeps suggesting giving people with disabilities free cab rides for the sake of the common good, does the phrase "separate but equal" mean anything to you? Also, people with disabilities are selected for exclusion from the notion of the "common good" why, exactly?

4. This thread absolutely reeks of oblivious able-bodied privilege, including from some of those posters who were ostensibly angered by the author's suggestion but still managed to frame everything in terms of having compassion for poor, helpless, tragic cripples. This is really one of the most disgusting displays I've seen in the blogosphere in recent memory, and I only hope that when people look back at it in a couple of decades, they'll laugh in utter disbelief.

Posted by Shambles | November 10, 2006 12:21 AM

On a related note, you know what really pisses me off? The homeless that get in my way when I'm trying to get to work in the morning!

Posted by Todd | November 10, 2006 12:28 AM

taking the rights away from couple handicapped folks is OK, if it will make the trains run on time.

Posted by MC Mussolini | November 10, 2006 12:55 AM

"And this is what's so powerful about mass transit (rail transit). It's not just about getting people from where they already live to where they already work. It has the power to shape people live and work."

Well thank you Joseph Stalin! As I have said that statue in Freemont speeks volumes regarding how the left views people. People in their estimation were put here on earth for you and the likes of you to "shape" to their satisfaction. Let them run their pie-hole long enough and their true colors always come through.

Posted by JDH | November 10, 2006 6:13 AM

The first wheelchair took a full ten minutes, as the bus driver scooted a few inches forward and backward repeatedly to line up with the curb.

Sounds like it wasn't the wheelchair user causing the problems, but, an inempt driver.

When drivers act like they're trained to do it only takes a wheelchair user a few seconds to board a bus, just like anyone else.

Drivers view disabled people as a burden, so make their lives unreasonably difficult (did it occur to you that the disabled people were in a hurry too?). I often think that drivers are trying to turn the travelling public against wheelchair users by being difficult and making it seem like it's the disabled persons fault that they take ages.

Looks like this one driver at least succeeded.

Posted by Lisy Babe | November 10, 2006 7:03 AM

Hey, hey, hey, it's pick on gimp day in Seattle! Why those rude gimps should be shoved off your precious express bus right? WRONG! Here we go back to Nazi Germany where the gimps were first banned from the public followed by Jews, gypsies & gays & then shoved in the ovens. Today, in our enlightened 21st century, we have parents murdering their children with disabilities. And Erica & others would ban us from utilizing public transportation. SHAME ON YOU! Remember, even Superman joined the one in five Americans with a disability. Would you have banned FDR our president from your express bus? He was a polio survivor and was a wheelchair user. Your blame for being late was ludicrous. The driver was probably not trained well. Here's a solution:Quit bitchin and get up earlier. And, Erica put your spell checker on, it is ACCOMMODATION. Maybe Seattle should ban poor spellers and bombastic complainers like you!

Posted by Val & Rick | November 10, 2006 7:13 AM

Hey, hey, hey, it's pick on gimp day in Seattle! Why those rude gimps should be shoved off your precious express bus right? WRONG! Here we go back to Nazi Germany where the gimps were first banned from the public followed by Jews, gypsies & gays & then shoved in the ovens. Today, in our enlightened 21st century, we have parents murdering their children with disabilities. And Erica & others would ban us from utilizing public transportation. SHAME ON YOU! Remember, even Superman joined the one in five Americans with a disability. Would you have banned FDR our president from your express bus? He was a polio survivor and was a wheelchair user. Your blame for being late was ludicrous. The driver was probably not trained well. Here's a solution:Quit bitchin and get up earlier. And, Erica put your spell checker on, it is ACCOMMODATION. Maybe Seattle should ban poor spellers and bombastic complainers like you!

Posted by Val & Rick | November 10, 2006 7:13 AM


If you are lucky enough to live to a ripe old age, you too, may acquire a disability (and the correct termminology is individual with a disability, not handicapped. Society imposes "handicaps" on individuals who have disabilities). The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law which ensures equal access (to goods, services, employment and activities) to people with disabilities. Would you complain if an elderly black individual took 5 - 10 minutes to board the express bus?

As far as the Metro Access program, not all individuals with disabilities qualify for paratransit services (Access). Individuals who are capable of riding the fixed route system are sometimes disqualified from Access services. If someone with a disability is capable of riding the fixed route they have the same right to wait out in the rain, be delayed by traffic accidents, pay the same fare and take as long as they need to board just as all riders.

Posted by Equality for All | November 10, 2006 7:38 AM

I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama before the civil rights struggles of the 1960s.
I am a Cherokee who got treated as white.

Many times I heard from cracker bigots that taking extra time to include people of color (Not the word used at the time) in civic life wasn't fair and cost too much money.

Promoting the idea of a separate bus for people with disabilities sounds like tired old Jim Crow to me.

For a liberal rag to allow a piece promoting "back of the bus" mentality is amazing and appalling to me.

The writer has a 50/50 chance of being the wheelchair user who will slow down a bus in the future.

They have a disability now in fact. It is called "Fearrogance" -- the belief you will never be disabled combined with the unspoken fear that it could happen at any time.

If you replace a race, gender or color every time the writer used disabled you will see what a disablist item you folks really printed.

Shame on your paper!


Posted by Rus Cooper-Dowda | November 10, 2006 7:45 AM

Erica you deserve of being disabled!I wish you that very soon you stop to walk and go in wheelchair!You are so stupid!

Posted by a girl | November 10, 2006 8:15 AM

Seattle faux-liberal outrage cracks me up. I will grant that this post has a terrible title. The real issue is: why are Metro "express" buses so slow? The disabled are just an easy scapegoat.

What we really need is to ensure some follow-through on a true BRT system to serve the areas that won't see light rail for several generations.

Simply using low floor buses eliminates the majority of the delays for loading wheelchairs.

They need to be used on 'BRT' express routes need to have stops 1/2 mile apart, with raised platforms for fast level boarding and ticket machines to eliminate jackasses digging in their purses for change, and let people board through all doors.

Combine that with exclusive bus lanes where feasible, and signal preemption, and you've reduced delays by far more than you could even if the ADA let you ban wheelchairs.

Posted by Some Jerk | November 10, 2006 8:42 AM

I am a wheelchair user and find this offensive. I rely on an express bus to get to school every day so I can get an education and work for a living. You are advocating taking away an essential service that gives people with disabilities an opportunity to be independent, productive, working, full-funcioning members of society. Would you rather millions of disabled folks and I just stay home, get on welfare, and eat up your tax dollars?

And BTW- the Metro Paratransit door-to-door service would not help here; it's only for "non-commuter" routes, and besides that, many people (like me) are not eligable who have the ability to get to a regular lift-equipped bus.

So I'm going to keep riding the express bus, I'm going to get my chair on and off as quickly and courteously as possible, and if you don't like it, then TOO BAD--I'm not sacrificing my opportunity to live independently just for your minor convenience. Try riding in a wheelchair for a day and see how CONVENIENT for you that is!

Posted by Chairbound Grad Student | November 10, 2006 9:10 AM

Um, Cressona, Seattle is actually much, much more similar to low-density cities like Houston than it is to San Francisco or New York. We have pockets of medium (not high) density in the center, but the vast majority of the region is, in fact, low or ultra-low suburban sprawl density.

Posted by Fnarf | November 10, 2006 9:55 AM

A little education on the alternate view, from when I as a disabled person who worked with a disability for used the bus to get to...oh, I dunno...could it be...*work!* for 23 years?

Posted by imfunnytoo | November 10, 2006 9:57 AM


i've rolled my eyes and sighed when a wheelchair rider gets on the bus (i get just as pissed when people don't have their fare ready ). i have to say though, that after reading all the comments (yes, all of them) i think i was being a selfish asshole.

this morning, i measured the amount of time it took to load and unload a wheelchair; it was about 2 minutes on each end. not too bad. but i do think this is a training issue for metro and i hope they are paying attention.

erica - your post didn't come across as unbiased. your opinion showed through, and you were rightly busted for it. still, i appreciate the post. i also wonder how you feel about it now.

to the commenters: though erica might have deserved some of your hits, you shouldn't be so harsh on her for posing the question. this is how we learn.

Posted by libbertine | November 10, 2006 10:10 AM

Eliminate the fares on buses, and it could both increase ridership as well as save time for all riders boarding.

Now THAT would be a greater public good.

Posted by Diana | November 10, 2006 10:25 AM

My God, this thread got caked over with ignorance.

Posted by Gomez | November 10, 2006 10:44 AM

186 posts. Wow. I assume this was a "Modest Proposal" sort of ploy to get discussion going, and it sure worked. Slog's servers creaked under the load. Hmm, hey, that slowed everyone down! Next Week: "Should Intentionally Inflammatory Posts Be Banned From Slog?"

Posted by Orv | November 10, 2006 11:22 AM

As a (slightly) disabled person, I can relate to this discussion. But it is VERY apparent there is a rampid thought in society than life is fair.
That goes both ways, a handicapped person is NOT going to win the Boston Marithon nor do we all have the right to complain loudly everytime when someone inconveniences us.
Personnally, I think the Dial a Ride type systems are disciminatory as only a few can use them and those who can not use them pay for them. How screwed up is that?

Posted by Bob | November 10, 2006 11:26 AM

I think the whole point is that delays like these are one of the reasons that people do not embrace the mass transit system.

We want to encourage people to get out of their cars, yes?

As it is though, on the eastside you're lucky if you can get anywhere by leaving an hour early, and in Seattle you're lucky if the bus isn't already full in the morning and you miss 20 minutes just waiting for a ride (As a former U District resident with a job downtown, that's one I'm very familiar with).

Lack of convenience with the bus system is already a major problem keeping people from riding (Especially on the eastside). The timeliness issue just puts more people back in their cars, creating more traffic for everyone.

Posted by Leonson | November 10, 2006 12:10 PM

wow, between wanting to kick the disabled off buses and allegedly running out on restaurant tabs, you're really batting a .1000....

Posted by michael strangeways | November 10, 2006 12:18 PM

No doubt you are now congratulating yourself on your "boldness" in "putting it out there" that banning an entire class of people from public transportation is a reasonable response to being twenty minutes late. Very likely you are mentally reasurring yourself of your good-liberal, "open-minded person" credentials, such as how being polite to your black neighbor or your gay co-worker proves you can't be a bigot.

First, let me say that I am disabled. I am also a human being, not an inanimate obstruction like a burst water main, or a downed tree branch in the road. And being allowed to ride public transportation (without having to schedule it in advance, or being wait-listed behind people with essential hospital visits), is why I am a graduate student with professional aspirations and a likely future career, instead of living indefinitely off public welfare. You have just proposed banning me from public services, and given encouragement to other people who sincerely support keeping me permanently out of sight.

Is this because if I'm banned from public services for being too slow and inconvenient, you can feel good about your generosity in voting to increase my disability payments, but if I'm not banned, you'll have to put up with the sucessful disabled professionals sitting next to you at the coffee shop? Is the possibility of you suffering a twenty-minute delay more important than all of my educational and career prospects? Or did it not occur to you that there were real people in those wheelchairs?

Regardless of which answer you pick, how many "I'm really progressive" points you can award yourself, and how much you excuse yourself as "just putting it out there", you are a bigot. Considering deliberate discrimination against a whole class of people for a minor inconvenience makes you a bigot. And yes, you should have just gotten over it.

Posted by JC | November 10, 2006 12:44 PM

So, should I file an initiative requiring all elected officials and candidates be required to only use public transit (bus, bike (lower impact), walk, pedestrian ferry, monorail, streetcar, lightrail) within the boundaries of the City of Seattle? Including any County and State officials (we can ignore the feds) ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 10, 2006 1:15 PM

For those of us who do not presently require a wheelchair, consider that we are only temporarily abled. One never knows what the future will bring for us and our loved ones; you may be advocating banning yourself or those you love.

Posted by cissy | November 10, 2006 2:26 PM

I think a few things have come out of this:

1) The driver was the one who slowed this bus down.
2) Public transport in Seattle is underfunded.

I don't want to speak for others, but I'm going to. I think the people who are suggesting "use the Access bus" are implying that we increase public funding to Access to the point where it is a feasible solution, rather than leaving people with disabilities high and dry.

I am from London, where we have an Underground network that in many places cannot be adapted for equal access due to heritage protection of buildings. We also have a mayor who doesn't own a car, as a statement of the effectiveness of London's public transport - but who takes taxis whenever he needs to be somewhere in a timely fashion. But then, London is a city with 5 times the population of the Puget Sound conurbation in about as much space - so distances people commute are smaller.

I agree with ECB that the bus was slower on that day with the disabled passenger than it would have been without - but the problem is a system that slows disabled passengers down, as well as its other flaws.

Solutions proposed such as low floor buses are the right way of dealing with the problem. Restricting the buses that people with disabilities can travel on is the wrong way.

Posted by Jez | November 10, 2006 2:48 PM

re: #188

last time i checked, a "handicapped" person ALWAYS wins the boston marathon. wheelchair racers are faster than people who run on their feet.

Posted by bolo | November 10, 2006 2:50 PM

personally i think that you are wrong. Although i am not handicapped i know someone who is. and i also know all the crap they have to go through each and everyday. they dont need a person who is in a rush to say that maybe they dont have the right to ride a public bus. if you feel that way then maybe you should find another way of transportation. there are other choices for you to make.. so if you have a problem with them riding the bus and making u a little late then find another way to get around instead of making them change.

Posted by abbey | November 10, 2006 3:04 PM

this article is ridiculous! As a person in a wheelchair I have to say that one, We have every right to use busing systems and if you have a problem with this then find another way to work! YOU made the choice to take the bus, so YOU can find another way to get to work! People in wheelchairs have every right to do what we want and we shouldn't have to defend ourselves!!! It's not our fault if you are late, we didn't bargain to be in this position!

Posted by nicole | November 10, 2006 5:53 PM


Suggesting that the curb-to-curb paratransit service as the option for wheelchair-user in order to make your commute more convenient shows your ignorance in such matters.

1) Paratransit is a required alternative for people who are unable to use fixed-route lines because of their disability. Your fellow passengers who were loaded onto the bus are obviously able to ride the regular bus, so were probably not certified to ride paratransit.

2) Paratransit is extremely expensive. Should taxpayers be required to pay for the expansion of such a costly and individualized service for people who don't really need it because you're not willing to take an earlier bus?

3) When riding paratransit one must allow enough time to account for many scenarios - First, the vehicle is allowed to arrive at any time within a 20-30 minute window (depending on the provider's contract). Second, that vehicle might arrive even later without advance notice because these things happen. Third, the ride may include picking up or dropping off other individuals (this is an encouraged cost-saving measure). Fourth, a driver may not be very skilled using the equipment. Fifth, there may be equipment malfunctions. When I rode paratransit, I had to allow for an hour and a half to insure I was on-time for work after only a mile and a half ride. (I should plan this much in advance so you don't have to?)

4) Paratransit requires scheduling in advance. The bus does not. People with disabilities have fought for and won the right to have the spontaneity that you have using public services.

5) The real issues in your situation are: The buses are not designed to allow for quick and convenient use, despite exhaustive advocacy on the part of disability advocates; many of the drivers resent being required to load wheelchair-users because there's no incentive to do this and they are working amidst grumbling passengers such as yourself, thus they move slowly; drivers are often poorly trained to use equipment efficiently; and the transit provider published an unrealistic schedule.

If delays on your route are inconvenient enough to prompt you to write a blog suggesting the rollback of people's civil rights, I suggest you direct your energy toward more constructive activities to solve these problems. You could work for improving public transportation accessibility by assisting a disability advocacy group in your community. Or ask your transit provider to improve the equipment or to publish bus realistic schedules that allow for wheelchair-users in-route. You could also car-pool (it's much more difficult to do this using a wheelchair). Maybe move closer to your job (it's easier for you to find housing than it is for a wheelchair-user). Find a good book and catch the earlier bus. Remember you're not the center of the universe...To live in a society, we have to collaborate. For me, that means I take time to describe a cultural perspective about which you seem to know little.

Good luck with better managing your time and commute.

Posted by AlTheGrrl | November 10, 2006 5:59 PM

I think you should get over it. Until you can get able bodied people to stop using our (disabled people's) handicapped parking places and our one and only wheelchair accessible bathroom, I think you can handle riding a bus with a cripple (one of which I happen to be). I can give you a whole list of things that I as a disabled person could piss and moan about, but I don't. So I think you as an able bodied person can handle this one. Perhaps you could offer to help the bus driver load, or become a more efficient bus driver yourself. The way I see it, it's not the fault of the disabled person, it's the fault of whoever assembled crappy equipment (a ramp that gets messed up and/or is slow), or whoever hired a bus driver who may not know what they are doing. I drive my own wheelchair accessible van with a lift and it takes me all of about two or three minutes to load, from start to finish. I suggest you either come up with fair ways to help, or just deal with it.

Posted by Lisa | November 10, 2006 6:49 PM

I don't know about the special service for disabled persons in Seattle, but usually, one must schedule such a service in advance -- perhaps as much as two days in advance. It doesn't allow for staying at work late, getting out from an appointment late, etc., since you must be ready to be picked up at a specific time. It is not very convenient. That's why most persons with disabilities would prefer to use the regular bus service.

Posted by Sharon Toji | November 10, 2006 6:57 PM

And another thing...

We aren't "wheelchairs", we are wheelchair users or people in a wheelchair. Wheelchairs are objects. I am not an object, and neither is anyone else who uses a wheelchair.


The only time I am "wheelchair bound" is when I'm getting a little freaky-deaky in a sexual situation. Otherwise, I am not generally "bound" to anything.


Posted by Lisa | November 10, 2006 7:57 PM

It's a good thing I was raised right and that I could never act upon this thought: I want to SMACK people like Erica Barnett and those who think she has a valid argument. I use a wheelchair. I ride the bus. I wish I could do more for myself to get on and off. I don't design the buses and they don't consult me. I wish the drivers actually knew how to pull into a bus zone to pick up or drop off a wheelchair using passenger AND the most effecient ways to secure my wheelchair. I don't train them and some get snotty if you offer suggestions. I've offered myself FREE OF CHARGE to Metro to help better train their people on many occasions and they have declined every time. I wish that buses ran on time. And I wish that stupid people would fall in large holes. I'm so very sorry that our disabilities are an inconvenience to the ret of the community. OK. I admit it. You got us. We get together in secret and plan delays on purpose to make sure people get to their destinations as late as possible. It's a conspiracy, I tell you... And I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. I hold a job and I resent unnecessary delays as much as the next person. People using mobility devices take as long as they take. Period. I happen to get on and off a bus quicker than most able bodied people. I, too, have seen people who do not have an OBVIOUS need use the lift - but they may have a legitimate, yet UNseen handicap. As for ACCESS service... there are strict rules and regulations - and major inconveniences. First, you may only use Access if you are unable to use the regular bus (be it a physical or equipment limitation). I can ride the bus just fine unassisted and WOULD NOT QUALIFY. Second, it costs significantly more to use this service - 75 cents to $1.50 per trip, I believe, compared to reduced bus far of 25 (off peak) to 50 (peak) cents. Surely a financial barrier to some. Third, all trips must be scheduled a minimum of 24 to 48 hours prior to the trip. Sometimes work schedules change suddenly, don't they? What to do then? Fourth, they do not always show up on time and frequently leave passengers waiting in bad weather for hours at a time. I worked with a woman who waited over an hour and a half for her ride home over 90% of her shifts - and she was late to work pretty regularly, too. And you were worried about a lousy 20 minute delay on a warm, dry bus? There are already enough roadblocks to gainful employment for the disabled. I don't need to be excluded from express buses to add to them. And although I am aware of the exceptions in ADA regarding qualifications for employment, I do not believe that "people in wheelchairs take too long and I'm a selfish, impatient person who can't wait" would be considered a valid argument for exception. Walk a mile in a man's shoes before you criticize - in this case, sit a mile in another woman's seat. Your able body has a lot of nerve complaining about a minor delay - which by your own account sounds more like bus operator error, not the wheelchair users'.

Posted by Kristen | November 10, 2006 8:59 PM

Hmm so how about this...How about You end up in a wheelchair for the rest of your life and then I will write an article just like this one and we shall see how U take it. Its a shame when people take their lives for granted. They shouldn't allow ignorant people to write.

Posted by Jayda | November 10, 2006 9:46 PM

I am a person who is visually impaired, and was refferred to this entry by several blogs I frequent. I am incredibly disturbed that this discussion even needs to happen. Below is a link to an entry I wrote in response to this. I hope it adds to the discussion:

Posted by Nickie | November 11, 2006 10:34 AM

Wow! At first read, I'm amazed at the seeming selfishness of your post. Perhaps you're just unfamiliar with how a system like Access actually works for people with disabilities. It isn't meant to provide first-line transportation but to serve people who are incapable of utilizing the bus system due to the severity of their disability or lack of accessibility of the system. Due to the individual stops and the intricacies of loading people with extremely severe disabilities, it can take an inordinate amount of time to arrive at a destination. They tell you to be ready 30 to 45 minutes early and may arrive an hour late--or not locate you at all and mark you down as a no-show, which leaves you standing (or sitting) out in the cold with no way to get home. It's not a very reliable method of getting around. As someone already posted, reservations also must be made at least a day in advance.

A good number of people with disabilities are working or preparing for work. Many have extra tasks to juggle in the morning or evening in addition to showering, getting dressed, eating, etc. You might be amazed if you took the time to get to know someone with a disability and learned about how they lived life. It could give a bit of new meaning to the need for time management. Please think about this kind of stuff before proposing something that essentially limits people unnecessarily to using options that tack an extra three to four hours onto their days.

Posted by Sarah J. Blake | November 11, 2006 11:03 AM

Re: post 100, economic impact vs "noneconomic indignity..."

Let's suppose that those four people taking Access are each an hour and a half late to work, and they happen to be employed as software engineers to the tune of $40/hr... In the course of adding them to the Access schedules, an additional four people are also an hour late to work. They are employed as executive secretaries to the tune of $25/hr. At the end of the day, two of them are "no-showed." It is 20 degrees outside, and they sit for an extra 90 minutes while waiting for an alternate ride. They become ill and are hospitalized with pneumonia, losing several days of work. The work isn't done, and they lose pay...

What is the economic impact of your ban now, Erica?

Posted by Sarah J. Blake | November 11, 2006 11:31 AM

Hey - Let's review some of the REAL economic factors at work. Car for Erica $20,000; modified van with lift for person with a disability $65,000. Bike for Erica $1000; Wheelchair for PWD $15,000.
Walking shoes for Erica $120;
W/C for PWD $15,000 [or for conversation, let's say a prothesis for PWD] $55,000.
Cab ride for Erica $20.00; cab ride for PWD
....priceless - as most W/Cs cannot get into a cab.
Bus ride for third person at bus stop $2.00; bus ride for third PWD in W/C...priceless, as a bus is only required to be built to carry two W/Cs at a time. [ever go somewhere with more than one friend? PWD can't -without waiting for the next bus]
Cost of ignorant blathering of a spoiled Seattle reporter? Cannot be calculated in the discrimination and exclusion that results - which is why it took FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS LAW to regulate that which by any measurable means should have been provided as a matter of human decency. But then Erica decries decency does she not?

Posted by Lee | November 11, 2006 1:55 PM

So the bus ran late? Welcome to reality. There are all kinds of situations causing delay.

If the wheel chair lift is not functioning properly obviously a speedy repair is in order.

If it took a while because the street curb is not even, a minor inconvenience - well life happens.

To even suggest we throw out a basic human right for a specific group of people is absurd.

Underlying such suggestions is the belief "it's OK to discriminate, as long as the group isn't mine".

Disability doesn't pick and choose. Everyone has a relative, friend, co-worker, fellow traveller on the bus, who has physical limitations.

Welcome to reality. While I wish you good health, I also hope you grow old. Will you be a passenger on the bus who takes a while?!

Posted by Elisabeth Ellenbogen | November 11, 2006 3:14 PM

So the bus ran late? Welcome to reality. There are all kinds of situations causing delay.

If the wheel chair lift is not functioning properly obviously a speedy repair is in order.

If it took a while because the street curb is not even, a minor inconvenience - well life happens.

To even suggest we throw out a basic human right for a specific group of people is absurd.

Underlying such suggestions is the belief "it's OK to discriminate, as long as the group isn't mine".

Disability doesn't pick and choose. Everyone has a relative, friend, co-worker, fellow traveller on the bus, who has physical limitations.

Welcome to reality. While I wish you good health, I also hope you grow old. Will you be a passenger on the bus who takes a while?!

Posted by Elisabeth Ellenbogen | November 11, 2006 3:14 PM

So the bus ran late? Welcome to reality. There are all kinds of situations causing delay.

If the wheel chair lift is not functioning properly obviously a speedy repair is in order.

If it took a while because the street curb is not even, a minor inconvenience - well life happens.

To even suggest we throw out a basic human right for a specific group of people is absurd.

Underlying such suggestions is the belief "it's OK to discriminate, as long as the group isn't mine".

Disability doesn't pick and choose. Everyone has a relative, friend, co-worker, fellow traveller on the bus, who has physical limitations.

Welcome to reality. While I wish you good health, I also hope you grow old. Will you be a passenger on the bus who takes a while?!

Posted by Elisabeth Ellenbogen | November 11, 2006 3:16 PM

Oh My Seattle! I was just over reading in the neighborhoods blog about the removal of miles and miles of sidewalk - due to a 2002 study on traffic safety - -please consider that Seattle is most likely removing sidewalks as a result of the Barden v. Sacramento lawsuit for accessible sidewalks providing all persons with access to pedestrian right of way [sidewalks and curbcuts]...just think how much money your traffic engineers have saved you by removing the sidewalks - and consider how many persons with mobility impairments will be trapped at home because of the project - and how many PWD's will be killed when needing to travel in the roadway with cars to get to community services and businesses. Remember this well, Seattle - That kind of tainted blood does not wash off easily. And this reader now understands why Seattle was the sight of early demonstrations of civil disobedience for gaining access - and this reader now understands how you spawned an Erica. This crip sure is glad she does not reside in [and will think twice about visiting] Seattle.

Posted by Lee | November 11, 2006 3:17 PM

Clearly it's never occured to you that someone in a wheelchair probably also has a job they're trying to get too. The issue here shouldn't be banning people in wheelchairs from express buses (this is where I refrain from insulting you at length on both your compassion and intelligence), rather, it's making sure handicap accessibility on such buses works better and more efficiently.

Posted by rm | November 11, 2006 4:04 PM

I wonder if Erica will have the "nuts" to respond to some of our postings. I hope she's sat in her room and though about her words for a while. Maybe she took a time out, maybe she needed a nap. LOL

Posted by Lisa | November 11, 2006 4:08 PM

I can't believe no one has brought this up sooner, but it's total bullshit to claim that Metro's ACCESS service is a sufficiently equal service to buses. It is, if anything, more like Shuttle Express.

From Metro's page about van service:

"You must phone the call center from one to three days in advance of your trip to request a ride. Same-day trips are not available."

Keep reading and you'll discover even more limitations on the service.

So, in ECB's world, wheelchair users would have to plan each of their bus trips several days in advance, then hang out for half an hour each time to wait for the van to show up. Don't know about you but when I want my bus, I want it to show up now, not in maybe half an hour if I'm lucky. (But I ride the 43, so it does that whether I want it to or not.)

Oh, and you have to be in their system, with an ID, to even use the Access service. I wanted to go to a movie with a wheelchair-bound friend from out of town. She of course didn't have an ID for a transit system in a city she doesn't live in, so no Access van for her.

We should not expect the disabled to be content with unequal services just to shave a couple minutes off the morning slog. Per that sign outside Twice Sold Tales, you can always take the earlier bus.

Posted by Amy | November 11, 2006 5:02 PM

Amy post 214 - Then Seattle Access is in SEVERE violation of the ADA - that requires them to provide service to visitors, with no ID requirement and no registration requirement.

Email me if you want more info:

[you said]
"Oh, and you have to be in their system, with an ID, to even use the Access service. I wanted to go to a movie with a wheelchair-bound friend from out of town. She of course didn't have an ID for a transit system in a city she doesn't live in, so no Access van for her."

Posted by Lee | November 11, 2006 6:47 PM

There is no way you are going to get the disabled banned from express buses. That is called DISCRIMINATION! Using the special lift vans is great, but you cannot tell disabled people they have to only use them. That is called SEGREGATION! It is called EQUAL Rights...All the time...not only on every fifth Tuesday because it is convenient for the rest of the world.

Being a person who uses a wheelchair and also public transit in my fair city, I know the drill well. I'm waiting for the bus in the rain, the bus pulls up I wave to the driver letting him know I want to board, and everyone runs for the door. While I am waiting in the rain people are rummaging for bus fare and bullshitting with the driver. Finally the driver looks out and says "you want to get on?" I say "yes" while he doesn't bother to hide the look of disgust on his face because he has to get out of his seat. He lowers the ramp, and I am on the bus, paid my fare, and in place in less then a minute.

Mind you...I haven't missed the looks of disgust from multiple other passengers as I entered the bus either. How dare I come on a bus and they have to move farther back, or stand. At this point the driver spends a huge amount of time attempting to tie my wheelchair down incorrectly because he refused to listen to my instructions as where to hook to. He does not care that where he hooked to will bend when he hits the brakes. Whats a $12,000 wheelchair to him? He doesn't have to repair it. And of course there is no way I could possibly have enough of a brain to actually know the correct places to attach the straps to.

This is only if the driver doesn't give me the story about how they don't have to strap my chair down anymore, and get back in their seat driving off leaving my wheelchair to slide all over the place while I try to keep from getting injured. Heck a 300 pound object flying through the bus in an accident isn't going to kill all the other passengers, just a couple of them right?

Get a life...Get over it... I gave up on caring about all the idiots who want people like me to vanish a long time ago. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of great people in this world and I meet lots of them on the buses. It's the few like you who think a minor inconvenience is the end of the world. That is life, deal with it. You are only an accident or illness away from becoming disabled, enjoy the life you have while you have it.

Posted by Lynn | November 11, 2006 7:38 PM

You do know it would be sooo easy to accidentally mistake this disgruntled grumbling of someone a little late for work as publicly advocating the segregation of some untold millions of individuals, right..?

My guess would be that was not, remains not the message publicly intended from the deepest depths of your heart, correct..?

Indubitably.. :wink:

Posted by A Little Butterfly On The Wall Says.. | November 12, 2006 12:56 PM

Women, especially women with children, should also be banned from express buses. They tend to carry a lot of junk with them and fumble around in their purses. With screaming children that have to be carried and dragged around and you get a lot of delay - it adds up fast!

Posted by badgermama | November 12, 2006 4:05 PM

I wonder. Would the writer also complain about the time it takes for the ambulatory riders to get on and off? Maybe THEY made her late to work. If she's going to pick on people, is she also going to pick on someone with a bad leg or a senior who walks slowly? Or maybe she left too late or shouldn't cut her commute so close. If she is that concerned, she should take a taxi because it isn't a shared ride. Or she could telecommute.

We're here. We're part of the public. We're riding buses. Get used to us!

Posted by Jean Ryan | November 12, 2006 6:17 PM

I totally agree.

Disabled riders make everyone late. They should be considerate and not ride the busses at all, where they won't slow down "regular" people. In fact, who let them out of the house anyway? It's not like they have jobs and lives and really have to get anywhere on time too.

In fact, if you can't get on and off a bus in about 3.5 seconds for whatever reason, let's ban you from the bus. If you lose your purse, have to grab a kid, stumble, walk slow, too bad.

Don't ever break your leg, k, because we're not going to let your slow butt on the bus with crutches! The rest of us have places to be.

Riders in wheelchairs are not a special class of citizens that you can vote off the island. They have the same rights as any other bus rider.

So the process is slow?
Maybe better ramps would be an idea, or universal design so that all busses kneel at every stop. Maybe better training for drivers. But to blame the person in the wheelchair is just, well, silly.

And rude.

And shows how little you value anyone in a wheelchair and how you don't really think they have anything important to ride an express bus for.

Maybe you should lobby for better, faster access to all things. I mean, really, have you ever had to go through some maze around a building so you can get to the one side door with a ramp? Or had to sit there while an ancient retrofitted bus ramp creaks into place? Welcome to the annoyances that your neighbors face every day. Perhaps you should consider them when pondering solutions to your little issue.

In other words:
suck it up buttercup

Posted by Lesley | November 12, 2006 6:39 PM

Dear Fnarf: They did (catch a "whiff" of it).. Goodness bless our ever-growing access to the social networking that is the Internet..

Easy to visualize this as the proverbial tip of the iceberg with untold hundreds more possibly going straight to the Editor's inbox and/or voice mail..

Dear Lisa: That was hysterical.. You'd fit right in with my friends over here.. Given the opportunity, your retort is sure to be a relayed anecdote one day very soon..

Dear Lynn: High five re your reference to "segregation".. So glad I responded first then read what others had to say..

Dearest Editor: For future similar pieces, we're obviously all entitled to our opinions.. Would ask, though, that your writer please enter the Present through the use of something closer resembling the respectful "people first" language when addressing persons with disabilities (PWDs).. There's not an overall consensus even among PWDs as to what is ultimately considered [correct], but, in this day and age, referring to a societal group as "the handicapped" probably ain't it..

The combination of content and 1970's-era language used can't help but make a fella feel this slog teetered consciously towards incitive.. We all KNOW that's not really what happened, but still, ya know, ya know..? :wink:

Thanks and best wishes..

Posted by Butterflies Always Land Twice.. | November 12, 2006 7:47 PM

Is it fair that the public transportation system only adequately serves the privileged majority? Is it fair that that people with disabilities have little if any reliable transit service that gets them to work on time? Is it fair that society oppresses people with disabilities with their attitudes of hostility, superiority, and pity?

What people with “special needs" really need is not segregated transport. They need society to understand that they, too, need to get to jobs, want to get to the store as fast as possible, want to get home to loved ones as soon as possible. People with disabilities don’t ride public transport because of “public accommodation,” they ride it because the right to convenient, quick, reliable transit service (if such exists) belongs not solely to the hundreds of able-bodied people.

If unreliability gets your goat, take a second look around. There are people who don’t know if they will ever be able to hail a cab, meet their friends at a resturant, get around inside a store, get through sidewalk construction without adding 20 minutes to their morning commute, etc. All of this because we, the privileged majority, do not consider or value those different from us. The same societal attitudes and values that oppress women and gays also oppress people with disabilities.

If you want the world to be more reliable, join the fight for equal access.

Ps. I'm pretty sure “handicapped” went out with “faggot."

Posted by The AB Student | November 12, 2006 8:58 PM

I think all the disabled folks of Seattle should band together and get on an express bus all over the city, pile in the gimps and the crips (not the gang members, the disabled folk ;-)). Organize a sort of bus "sit in" for the sake of civil rights. How ya like me now, Erica? Grrl, you sure know how to make friends...

Posted by Lisa | November 12, 2006 10:18 PM

you r nuts so we made u late big whoop leave earlyer it aint our fault you are late we need time and u need to quit being such an ass and get a life we have jobs and we use the bus system to get to work so get a life and quit complaining i am sick of it if you dont lets paralize you and throw you in a wheelchair then u know what it is like so pls do everybody here a favor and SHUT YOUR TRAP thank you

Posted by wheelchair user | November 12, 2006 10:21 PM

Based on the combination of your writing skills and your intellectual reasoning, such as it is, I would surmise that you would believe "A Modest Proposal" to be a cookbook.

Posted by TFCOCS | November 13, 2006 10:26 AM

Put Erica on a time machine and send her back to Germany in the 1940s. She and her ilk who think we should go away, be institutionalized and be locked away, never have existed in the first place, and be denied basic human rights would fit in perfectly with the "master race."

Posted by dawhealer | November 13, 2006 10:28 AM


Dawn those glad rags and suck it up! Your "solutin" shows that you are a cold, heartless person. I'm shocked! Insisting on improvements to the transit system is fine, but kicking people with disabilities to the curb is totally unacceptable in any situation!

Posted by Darrell Shandrow | November 13, 2006 12:00 PM

they should ban people traveling with children from express buses too. those people take FOREVER to get on and off.

Posted by minnie | November 13, 2006 12:42 PM

While we are granting you your wishes, let's stop those pesky ambulances from making us have to stop at green lights while we're in a hurry to get to work. And those old people who can't cross the crosswalk in time...ban them from the crosswalks...anything so you can quickly arrive at your highly important job.

Posted by Doug | November 13, 2006 1:44 PM

As a person who is disabled who also has friends who use wheelchairs, I'd like you to step back and view this from their perspective.

To not allow disabled people on express buses is discrimination, pure and simple. I understand your frustration, but there are other ways to fix the problem besides discriminating against a whole class of individuals.

I live in DC and our buses (express or not) do NOT take more than 2 minutes to load a passenger. Seattle needs to consider installing accessible buses with faster loading times. Accessibility should be the norm -- to the point where backwards attitudes that advocate separate and unequal facilities are not even tolerated.

Posted by JLT | November 13, 2006 2:31 PM

What a load... People like you fail to reaize that you can become disabled in a heartbeat or through time with age. Will you then expect to be treated the way you suggest now?

Posted by mjr | November 13, 2006 2:40 PM


What ever you do, do not slip on the ice when moving across the sidewalk or getting out of the rapid-trans. At any moment you, as a fellow human being, are a mere milli-micro-second away from a spinal cord injury. Like most people, you are, in reality, only temporally abled. If you live to be eighty-five, your chances of having a life-style limiting disability are in the range of 65%. With your philosophy of ableist hegemony, you'll want to stay at home and prevent inconviences for the other Ericas out there.

Posted by Dr. Stephen Concklin | November 14, 2006 6:55 AM

Are you a member of the KILL the CRIPPLES Society? Just blame us for everything, and like the final KILL of Terri Schiavo, you'll get public support to kill us all off at bus-stops, bus stations, train stations, airports and anywhere else our schedules are not as "important" as you "Utilitarians"!

Until I was not able to work and travel anymore, I used public transport systems in several countries, before and after disability rights.

I used a wheelchair and crutches, and always needed people's help, whether I had somebody to come with me, or I needed help from drivers or passengers.

Since disability rights, there is more promotion of hate toward our minority than a public effort to integrate us as equal citizens.

All it takes is smut like this question you pose, to push a little more in the direction for more segregation, and more concentration camps like where Terri Schiavo was murdered.

There is a new day coming, and when that day arrives, Disabled People won't tolerate and submit to shit anymore.

So far people like you, the Associated Press, (UK) The Guardian and much of the mainstream media have gotten away with unbalanced propaganda against us.

Younger Disabled People are going to stop being the "well-behaved" vulnerable targets we have been in the past.

The Jews have had the evangelicals to liberate them from their holocaust in the last century. The African-Americans had us whiteys to be their "Freedom-Fighters" in the 1950's-60's.--And the Gay/Lesbian minority have had Hollywood to integrate them into mainstream society.

To this day, Disabled People have few supporters and pushers to combat the war of hate we have to swim in because of people like yourself.

The disability-free world you people want to have is equal to wanting a:

1. Jewish-free world
2. Muslim-free world
3. Black-free world and a
4. Gay-free world

If you dared publish the same question against any of those groups of "equal citizens", your newspaper office would be one big crater in the ground.

The Human Rights and Civil Liberties groups which were built to combat segragation of Blacks, today combat our right to desegration.

When our people are being killed off, the Civil Liberties lawyers are the first to jump to the defense of our killers.

We are not going to let you take away our rights to be born, and to live our lives.

Posted by Ironsides | November 14, 2006 12:07 PM

I see this stupid woman STILL doesn't have a whole lot to say in defense of herself. Since she is being slammed right and left, one who think she might want to to at least stick up for herself. Or quite possibly, if she's had some sort of change of heart (maybe a light bulb switched on), it would be awfully nice to see if she's been able to dislodge her foot from her mouth yet. If nothing else, maybe she's learned that we aren't just "the handicapped", that we are actual, real people, with a few functioning brain cells rattling around in our heads. Or maybe my hex on her worked and she was slammed into by the bus she speaks of, and is now a paraplegic and hasn't figured out how to do anything for herself yet. One has to wonder...

Posted by Lisa | November 14, 2006 5:24 PM

I belong to an online disabled rights group and the leader of that group told me about this post. Frankly, it disturbed me a great deal.

I don't live in Seattle, or even in the US. I live in Canada (near Toronto, Ontario). For financial reasons, I don't own a vehicle.

I personally am not disabled, but I have a few friends who are, most notably my dear friend and roommate Michelle. She uses a power wheelchair. Here are the methods of transportation available to her:

1. Here, the accessible van service for people with disabilities is called Durham Region Transit Specialized Services (I call it ST for short). To be eligible for this service, you have to meet certain criteria. It's "available for temporarily or permanently disabled residents of Durham Region who are unable to board conventional vehicles or walk 175 metres." One other person may come with the client, though they may be able to accommodate more than one other person based on available space. Clients may book up to two weeks in advance. They must book by 3:00 pm the business day before, for weekday service (eg. Friday by 3:00 pm for Monday trips, Monday by 3:00 pm for Tuesday trips). Clients must book by 3:00 pm Thursday for weekend service. In other words, this service allows for very little spontaneity. If you're a person with a disability and you suddenly realize that you need to get to the grocery store or decide to go to a movie and you expect same-day service from ST, your chances are pretty low indeed. So where does that leave you? Well, here's the next option:

2. Wheelchair taxi. Here we have three major taxi companies, yet only ONE (1) offers wheelchair taxis. While other people can call any other taxi company they choose and get a ride in a regular cab fairly quickly (if, of course, they have the finances), the same can't be said for people with disabilities. Blue Line Taxi serves quite a large area so of course, we frequently have a longer wait for the vans. Often we call for a ride between 30-45 minutes in advance, to be on the safe side. So, what's the next option, if we need to get somewhere that's too far to walk and we don't have the finances for a cab?

3. Low-floor buses. Our city has only 3 designated low-floor bus routes, which run on a half-hourly basis every day except for Sunday (hourly service then). For any other route, you're pretty much taking your chances. Low-floor buses are driven on all the other routes, but definitely not on a regular basis so there's no guarantee that you're going to get one when you need it. Our experiences with the drivers have been quite pleasant on the whole but we've occasionally had problems with able-bodied riders. Yes, Michelle's entrance onto the bus does cause some delays but I've seen longer delays caused by other people and traffic conditions. Yes, the drivers have occasionally suggested that Michelle use a bus that's not so busy but that's simply not going to happen. The fact is that she has a right to use a low-floor bus at ANY time, no matter what the so-called "inconvenience" to other riders may be. That's just the way it is, and you'll just have to accept that. To suggest banning a wheelchair user from using express buses is blatantly discriminatory, not to mention just plain rude and inconsiderate. Put yourself in a wheelchair user's position, even just for a few hours, and then see exactly how you'll feel. Then maybe you'll see what it's like when you have to rely on others for help from time to time. Michelle, for example, is unable to shower and dress herself without some assistance, and occasionally needs help eating. And remember that every one of us may just be a heartbeat away from becoming disabled ourselves. Just think about that, and try to show a bit of compassion and understanding (but NEVER pity) to someone who has a disability.

Posted by Dot McFarlane | November 14, 2006 8:31 PM

Sadly for disabled passengers, one of those 'side effects of equal access' is that they still have to share a bus with people like Erica in the morning.

So why doesn't she write about the inability of the bus company to install easy to use ramps instead of an insidious little whine about disabled people spoiling her day?

For the negative: It wouldn't create a stir - and could it be Erica isn't up to the challenge of constructing an article discussing what, who and why this is still an issue in a country who sent a man to the moon in 1969 but still can't raise the technology to get some poor sod in a wheelchair onto a bus efficiently?

For the affirmative: Journalists who write this sort of "I'm only writing what other people are thinking" fodder demonstrate perfectly (more's the pity) that insidious discrimination is still very, very much acceptable- and that platforms like "The Stranger' are still happy to play host to it.

So, disabled - and able-bodied - people react against the point of view expressed, but, duh, that's ok, because I'm only writing what other people are thinking... Are you? Really?

I only hope you heed the majority response that you should indeed suck it up. Do the human race a favour and think twice next time you see someone at the mercy of a bus and a ramp system that isn't the best design possible because most of the time disability access is seen as unimportant or inconvenient -mostly by people like yourself. Better still, exceed this pap and write a cohesive article about it.

Posted by Agent Fang | November 15, 2006 6:33 AM

Regarding Access transportation: those of you who say they wish they could use it are people who know nothing about it.

Let's say you need to get to an appointment at noon. At least 24 hours before your appointment (if not more these days), you need to call Access. They will then give you a window for pickup. It will probably between 9 and 10. Maybe they will be there at that time and maybe they won't. Remember that they pick up a bunch of people so you will spend the rest of the trip picking up and droping off others before getting to your destination. Then you get a window for the return trip. Since you don't know exactly how long the appointment will last, you tell them that you will be ready to be picked up at 2. Access will then tell you that you will be picked up between 2 and 4.


Posted by truth about access | November 17, 2006 3:03 PM

I cannot believe some of the comments I have read about Persons with Disabilties and public transportation!

the ADA has been in existence now for more than 16 years - and whatever arguements that may remain, one thing everyone agrees on is that ALL items paid for by the taxpayer (which includes many people with disabilties, by the way)must be in compliance. One wag complained about how long his express commute took because the driver could not line up the vehicle to allow a person with a mobility device on or off. Why is that the fault of the person with the disability? Sound s to me like the drive was inept or poorly trained!

That aside, the fact that anyone would even think like this in this day and age does not bode well for our society whether the issue is homophobia, racism, sexism or disability rights!

Marilyn Grunwald

Posted by Marilyn Grunwald | November 18, 2006 10:27 AM

What an amazing post. I am constantly amazed that people can come up with such conceptually inadequate crap and think it's OK.
Erica, and any of your fellow whingers, you need to get a life in which adequate logic, informed thought processes and engaged morality all play a prominent part. Your discriminatory comments do not impress.
You should be aware that you will be known to many people in other countries. This is far too good an illustration of discriminatory attitudes for me not to share with my fellow kiwis and international contacts.

Posted by Wendi | November 19, 2006 3:36 PM

1-Take some prozac you are an incredibly unhappy person
2- I use a wheelchair and I pay taxes and so does my family and 12 good friends who all say I get to use the bus even tho I inconvenience you. Too bad.
3- Bus design is the problem, not me. Bad driver is the problem, not me.
4- I have used BART with no trouble at all and it is much better and stupid Seattle refused for ten long years to put in a public transport system that would work. Please. Blame the politicians, not me.
5- you are one disease, one car accident, one bike accident away from a wheelchair- maybe then you will develop some empathy, because you are rather selfish. What a pity. When you use a public utility or road things occur which may not suit you. Oh well, such is life. If I had my way traffic would not be so bad because I would shoot everyone who drove one person per car- but that is just me.
6- We need a real public transportation system
7- you are oy, such a jerk - how did your mama raise you?

Posted by Naomi | November 22, 2006 12:38 AM

1-Take some prozac you are an incredibly unhappy person
2- I use a wheelchair and I pay taxes and so does my family and 12 good friends who all say I get to use the bus even tho I inconvenience you. Too bad.
3- Bus design is the problem, not me. Bad driver is the problem, not me.
4- I have used BART with no trouble at all and it is much better and stupid Seattle refused for ten long years to put in a public transport system that would work. Please. Blame the politicians, not me.
5- you are one disease, one car accident, one bike accident away from a wheelchair- maybe then you will develop some empathy, because you are rather selfish. What a pity. When you use a public utility or road things occur which may not suit you. Oh well, such is life. If I had my way traffic would not be so bad because I would shoot everyone who drove one person per car- but that is just me.
6- We need a real public transportation system
7- you are oy, such a jerk - how did your mama raise you?

Posted by Naomi | November 22, 2006 12:38 AM

fyi: just because you use a wheelchair doesn't mean you get to ride the Metro buses door-to-door for 75 cents! Did you know you have to meet certain criteria to ride those vans?


Posted by Claire | November 22, 2006 12:59 PM

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