Accessible transport for Norman residents with disabilities was the main topic of the community planning and transport committee on Thursday.
The two-hour meeting was dominated by discussions on issues including the lack of same-day transportation options in Norman and the fact that ridesharing companies do not need to have accessible vehicles in their fleet.
“[The City of Norman] doesn’t even do the least, ”said John High, a member of OK ADAPT and Progressive Independence, to the committee on Thursday. “We’re treated like second-class citizens, and Norman doesn’t have second-class citizens, does he?”
During the meeting, several questions came up about ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft that operate in Norman and do not offer accessible transportation to people like Ricky Anderson, an accessible transportation advocate and chairman of OK ADAPT. He asked the members of the committee if any of them had ever ridden in a taxi in Norman. No one seemed to remember any particular case when they did.
Station 7 Stephen Holman said he never had to because he has a personal vehicle and a bike for transportation. Anderson, who uses a wheelchair, said he didn’t have these as ways to get around.
“It seems like we should somehow motivate some of these Norman companies to provide accessible transportation services,” said Holman.
Station 1 Brandi Studley agreed with Holman.
“That shouldn’t be a problem when we’re talking about people who get around,” said Studley.
Norman City Prosecutor Kathryn Walker referred to federal law that “a unit should schedule and schedule a paratransit service for any ADA paratransit authorized person at any time on a given day in response to a service request the day before.” must provide “.
High, who also uses a wheelchair, claimed that there is no specific language in the law that deals with crisis situations, but there should be. He cited the winter storm that swept Oklahoma in February.
“How are we supposed to cancel one day in advance at such an event?” “I had to drive two miles in the snow just to go to church. I know it was dangerous, but I felt like I had to go. Services should be available so I don’t have to do that again. “
Anderson said if the city simply started with three to five vehicles that could transport residents with disabilities, the city would increase sales tax revenue.
“If you do something about it, Norman will see an advantage too, as people shop in all of the local stores,” he said.
High and Anderson said there are alternative taxi services in Norman that offer accessible transportation, but the fare is “unreasonable”.
“It costs me $ 150 every time I want to visit my son,” said Anderson.
Norman Public Works director Shawn O’Leary said he heard similar stories but has yet to figure out what those services are.
“I never found the source for it,” he said. “Whoever it is, they operate in Norman without a license.”
O’Leary said he understood High and Anderson’s concerns, but said Norman is currently not in the right position to provide the on-demand transportation services they have requested through its current transit system. However, based on Thursday’s meeting, O’Leary said changes could be made to address concerns.
“It appears that the council has an interest in using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to address these issues,” he said.
O’Leary said he would refer anyone with accessibility issues to the city’s ADA Citizens Advisory Board.
Holman said the committee would not meet in July but there would be a meeting in August.