New shuttles address handicap needs
AU will get three new shuttles with low floor ramps instead of high ramps to make transportation more handicapped-accessible.
High floor ramps require passengers to walk up stairs and are expensive to repair, according to AU Shuttle Operations. However, the low floor ramps are convenient and easy to maintain by allowing the shuttle driver to manually operate the ramp if it breaks.
Student Government Senator At-Large Joe Wisniewski said handicap utilities needed to be updated after his experience on a Washington Law School shuttle last May.
The handicap ramp detached from the back of a shuttle he was riding to Tenleytown, Wisniewski said. The driver then asked Wisniewski to hold the ramp for the remainder of the ride.
“I kept thinking to myself ‘what would have happened if someone had been on that ramp and using it,’” Wisniewski said, “There could have also been a car behind us that would have gotten hit.”
Wisniewski said handicapped students cannot wait until January for these shuttles.
“We want to implement some changes between now and then because if you are in the disability community and you have to wait for three buses in the middle of December, you’re going to be freezing,” he said.
SG is currently developing a taxicab reimbursement program for handicapped individuals, Wisniewski said. If a shuttle cannot accommodate a handicapped student’s needs, AU will reimburse the student for cab fare. This is similar to the cab voucher system in place for students who go to the emergency room.
Facilities Management said they would like to use AUTO vans with handicap accessibility instead of taxis so that the program remains within AU.
“Hopefully we only need this program until the buses arrive,” Wisniewski said. “However, we still need something for people for the next five months. That is a long time.”