Transit for elderly and disabled "major issue"

February 3, 2011

By Odette Yousef

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Pace Bus’s paratransit service, a lifeline to elderly and disabled people who rely on public transportation, has had to overcome significant difficulties to access its riders.

“In the city, and in a number of the suburbs, too, we're running into a lot of issues as far as vehicles being able to access the side streets where people live,” said spokesman Patrick Wilmot, “and it's been a major issue.”

Wilmot said the difficulties have been compounded by snow-filled sidewalks. 
 
“A lot of times people are using mobility devices, like wheelchairs and walkers and so forth,” said Wilmot, “and if the sidewalks aren’t clear then it becomes really complicated for people to be able to even access the vehicle.”
 
The 24-hour, door-to-door service normally makes 8 thousand stops on weekdays, in six counties of the Chicago region. Today, said Wilmot, it handled fewer than 3 thousand. Wilmot credited riders for opting to postpone non-essential trips. Still, he added, the service has logged on-time pickups for 90 percent of its calls since the blizzard hit.