A woman on her way to dialysis out west is dropped off in a wheelchair more than 3 blocks from her final destination and left to find her way alone. She is forced to backtrack and go into the street by a lack of curb cuts. Another woman is forced to sleep in the doctor’s office overnight because MOBY can’t come back and get her when an appointment runs later than hoped. In order to get MOBY service within Omaha, a client must live within ¾ of a mile of an existing bus line which means the route and accessibility can change at any moment.
Omaha’s car centered culture has not invested significantly in public transportation for the masses especially when compared to neighbors like Denver and Minneapolis, but failing to provide access to healthcare, work, and education for the disabled is an altogether different civil and human rights issue. Coupling para and public transit in Omaha is unfair. The disabled are being systematically discriminated against when their transportation is linked to insufficient public transit infrastructure and unstable social programs for ride reimbursement. Making services difficult to get and maintain is an unnecessary burden and thus an unequal opportunity. It is also a violation of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.
According to the ADA National Network, the Americans with Disabilities Act “guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.” The opportunities available to someone with a disability are severely diminished. Notice the ADA doesn’t mention housing. Access to housing, education, and work are limited when you or someone you love are disabled. We have an obligation to go beyond a complement to the bus service. As one in ten Americans will experience disability, let’s get on board the KEEP IT ACCESSIBLE movement and demand better services for those with disabilities. When people have access, they are healthier and they contribute more to their community. And everyone deserves that opportunity.