Problems with Pace

June 12, 2008 10:33:01 AM PDT
Two years ago, Pace took over the CTA's para-transit operation. It's a door-to-door transportation service provided to riders with disabilities. Just when the transition was fully implemented, significant problems angered many riders. Pace managers hoped the new system would improve para-transit services for the city and surrounding suburbs. Instead, riders say it's gotten worse and more burdensome to navigate. Para-transit riders are voicing their concerns about the new system which started in late March.

"We have problems with trying to book our rides," said Carolyn Shaw.

Shaw uses the para-transit services everyday.

"For my physical therapy I do a water aerobic class Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I have Bible study I go to on Tuesdays at my church. I have a choir rehearsal, I do a lot of volunteering at my church," said Shaw.

In addition to trying to book rides, Carolyn has been late to her appointments because of the changes.

At Progress Center for Independent Living in Forest Park, many of the employees commute from the city. Ann Gunter lives on the lakefront.

"I used to get to work in about 45 minutes to an hour and a half depending upon traveling conditions," said Gunter.

But since the changes?

"Anywhere between 2 hour to 4 hours per ride," she said.

Pace's executive director, T.J. Ross, says they switched from a manual system to a computerized system.

"We did have a tough time the first couple weeks but that computer system has been stabilized, and we are now. The proof of that is we're now running much more on time," said Ross.

They also are seeing an increase in ridership.

"In July of 2006, when we took over, there were about 140,000 riders a month in the city, and now we're up to about 160,000 rides a month," Ross said.

Sharon Lamp has been using para-transit as little as possible.

"But when I do I take it I leave myself probably two to three times as much time as I need," said Lamp.

Although she says there are benefits when using the computer systems, there are also problems.

"Unfortunately, the computer crashed on day one and it took several weeks to resolve the issues," said Lamp. "And we still have problems with the computer here and there, and there was no efficient backup plan in place."

"One of the things that the chairman of Pace has decided is that he wants a blue ribbon committee," said Ross, "and that blue ribbon committee is going to take a look at all the aspects of the service that we have out there, how the public is making comments, and then how we are making decision about what service."

Pace hopes to have a report by November on where they are going with services for people with disabilities.

For more information go to the Pace website, www.pacebus.com.

Progress Center
www.progresscil.org


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