We often hear that transportation – or lack thereof – is a barrier for teens and young adults with disabilities when it comes to getting and keeping employment. We know it can be very tricky to get around, especially in rural areas, so at JJsList.com, we encourage you to squeak your wheels (no pun intended!) to help to increase the availability of public transportation where you need it.
We heard this great story from Jennifer Pearson, Director of Special Education for District #225 in suburban Illinois. There had long been a Pace Suburban Bus fixed-route bus stop in front of Glenbrook North High School in her district. The stop was used by students with disabilities to get to major downtown hubs and connections to other public transportation. Suddenly, one day the stop was pulled from the bus route without any explanation.
“Our goal has always been to help students learn to access a fixed route for community activities rather than requesting paratransit,” Pearson said. “Students used that bus to go to job interviews and for other activities in the community. So when one of our teachers told me that the stop was no longer in existence, I knew that students had lost valuable lifeline to independence in the community was.”
Students and teachers had just completed a Pace-JJsList.com Hop on the Bus to Independence Workshop, where students learned about taking fixed-route public transportation, and were very ready to practice their new public transportation skills. So Pearson contacted Ed Madden, Coordinator of Public Outreach and Steven Andrews, Community Relations Representative and told them about the problem. The Pace team took a look at the route and supported efforts to get the stop reestablished.
Within a few weeks, the bus stopped once again in front of the high school. “It was a great experience to work with Pace, especially Ed and Steven,” Pearson said. “Thanks to their efforts, students with and without disabilities have greater access to work and activities in the community using public transportation.”
We know that bus routes don’t instantly appear, but if you need one in your area, get in touch with your public transportation representatives. Squeaky wheels can make a difference.
For more information about a Hop on the Bus to Independence Workshop for your school or agency, click here.