In a previous blog, we discussed the losses and gains that a person with a spinal cord injury can experience. One of these losses is the ability to drive like any other able-bodied person. We also discussed the possibility of hand controls, which make it possible for a person with a spinal cord injury to drive their own vehicle. These driving systems, however, can be quite costly. In addition to up-front costs, not everyone can afford the necessary cars for hand controls, like a minivan with a lift. The alternative to driving your own car is learning to use the state transit system where you live and relying on public transportation to get around.
Riding the transit system can be fun and exciting as well as liberating. It gives one a sense of freedom and confidence. You can essentially get anywhere you want to go within your community. For a person with a physical disability, it gives you the independence you crave. It can be embarrassing and stressful, however, if you do not know how to effectively use your state transit system.
Learning How to Use the Bus or Train
So, how does one use the transit system so they don’t have to experience all the stress and fear that a person with a physical disability may feel? The first step is to go online and read
and understand your state transit system. For instance, in the state of Utah there is a dependable and well structured transit system called UTA. On their website, you will find the answers to all your questions about the system. You will learn about the different sources of transportation like the bus, TRAX and FrontRunner. On their webpage, you will find schedules, fares, accessibility and affordable bus passes. Their transit system will get you almost anywhere in the Salt Lake Valley you want to go.
You may be wondering if these forms of public transportation are accessible by wheelchair. The answer is: yes. Raised/lowered platforms and powered ramps allow access to the buses and TRAX and FrontRunner cars. There are also reserved seating areas on the buses and train cars for wheelchairs to be strapped down and secured.
Despite these transportation opportunities, not everyone in a wheelchair can get to a bus stop—especially in Utah’s snowy or extremely hot weather. For these individuals, UTA offers another transportation option called Paratransit. Paratransit is a smaller bus with a lift that will pick you up from your home and take you to your destination. There are fees for riding Paratransit, and you have to schedule rides a day in advance. On the UTA website, there is a page dedicated to Paratransit that will explain how to get set up with Paratransit. Once you understand how this service works, you can get almost anywhere in the Valley without a problem.
Just like traveling in a personal vehicle, traveling via public transportation can get costly. Through UTA’s website, you will be able purchase affordable bus passes that will make it possible for you to ride the bus on a regular basis so long as you have a fixed income. Fortunately, a person with a physical disability that has gone through the Mobility Center will be given a pass that makes it possible for a person that is disabled to use the services for free. However, the Paratransit will always have a fee attached to it.
Get Out There and Live
Getting around can be quite a challenge, especially for someone with a physical disability. The good news, however, is that it is possible to get around in your community with the right type of transportation. Your Utah state transit system is there to help you get out and enjoy your life to the fullest. Learning about the sources of transportation offered will bring you so much freedom. Get out there and have an adventure riding your state transit system!