FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Barry Taylor, Legal Advocacy Director
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Kevin Irvine, Senior Transportation Advocate
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Equip for Equality Applauds CTA Decision to Reverse Proposed Paratransit Fare Hike
Daley & Blagojevich Support People with Disabilities in Opposing 100% Fare Increase
CHICAGO (December 15, 2005) --Two weeks after Equip for Equality and seven other disability organizations sent the Chicago Transit Authority Board a letter opposing its decision to double the cost of services for CTA ADA paratransit customers, the board rescinded the hike by a 4-to-1 vote. Chairman Carole Brown cast the lone dissenting vote. The reversal keeps fares at $1.75 for all ADA paratransit customers, individuals who cannot access the city's mainline system and who often have very low incomes.
"Chicago's paratransit services are a vital economic and social link for many people with disabilities who live in the Chicago region," says Kevin Irvine, senior transportation advocate at Equip for Equality. "With a 70 percent unemployment rate in Chicago's disability community, making transportation accessible means also keeping it affordable." Thousands of individuals with disabilities use CTA's paratransit system, which covers Chicago and 40 suburbs.
Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, many Chicago aldermen, and Gov. Rod Blagojevich all weighed in against the fare increase, helping to ensure that CTA paratransit will remain affordable for at least six more months.
"Equip for Equality applauds the courage of the four CTA board members who voted to rescind the fare hike," says Zena Naiditch, Equip for Equality's President and CEO. "We also recognize that CTA leadership has to grapple with an underfunded regional public transit system and an outdated funding formula."
In its December 14 meeting, the CTA Board also expressed concerns about the CTA's contract with ADA paratransit carriers. Equip for Equality analysis of recent data indicates a trend of underperformance among the carriers. Some of these problems include late pickups (vehicles arriving more than 25 minutes late), which increased in the second half of 2005,;on-time performance, which has dropped on two of its three carriers (SCR and Art's Transportation); and trip denials, which spiked in four of the first 10 months of 2005. CTA Vice Chair Susan Leonis requested that CTA management provide regular ADA paratransit performance reports to the board.
Equip for Equality sent the CTA Board a letter on December 2, representing its concerns and that of seven other organizations: Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago, AIDS Legal Council of Chicago, Chicago ADAPT, the Corporation for Supportive Housing, Metro Seniors in Action, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society - Greater Chicago Chapter and Progress Center for Independent Living.
Equip for Equality is an independent, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to advance the rights of people with physical or mental disabilities, including developmental disabilities and mental illnesses, in Illinois, through self-advocacy assistance, education, legal services, public policy initiatives, and investigations. As the state's federally mandated protection and advocacy system, Equip for Equality has broad statutory powers to safeguard the rights of people with disabilities.