Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Railroaded, addendum

I received this comment on my "Railroaded" entry:

"...As a regular rider, I think Caltrain has been improving the ADA accessibility. I'm thinking it's just a one time deal. Heck, I've seen the conductor and engineer make sure everything is going to be 'just' right for PNA passengers..."

Not to be cranky, but this makes my neck hurt. It sounds like a pwd (person with a disability) who is grateful for whatever access they get.

I don't think I am a radical. I am all too aware that the fact that Caltrain still exists at all in its current form, and hasn't been replaced by the completely accessible BART and/or VTA (light rail systems that cover the Bay Area, but do not meet strategically, as one would hope) is political and financial.

Caltrain is sharing the rails with freight trains that need specifications that are sometimes in direct opposition to accessible platforms and cars for the passenger trains.

I have the delusion that it is my civil right to have equal access to public transit. That I should be able to enter and exit the train or light rail independently. That I shouldn't have to count on a special car, good hearted employees or special equipment to get to where I want to go.

As it is, people with disabilities are the only "protected class" who still have literal and figurative access issues with transit. Ethnic minorities, persons with alternate gender identities and/or sexual preferences, women, and all religious orientations are able to seamlessly board any damn public transit vehicle they want -- and it would be front page news if such were denied them, on the basis of their membership in that "protected class".

We're fifteen years out from the ADA, are we not? Transit authorities of various stripes (trains, planes, buses) have all been given generous extensions of time to get their equipment upgraded. Under the current political clime, I'm certain that disability access is looked upon as a distasteful waste of public funds.

It (the lack of equal access) is discriminatory and marginalizing. Period.

When he was involved in the Brown vs. Board of Education segregation case, Justice Frankfurter asked Thurgood Marshall his definition of "equal" he said, "Equal means getting the same thing, at the same time and in the same place."

That's all I'm asking for.

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