Texas Transportation: What's Next?22 June 2018
Texas is making some changes to the way they handle transportation access for the disabled community. While still in their early stages, each of these developments can potentially have long-lasting effects on accessibility throughout the state.
Here are a few projects in the works from around the Lone Star state that may affect the future of disabled transportation in Texas.
Easier Bus Access
One Texas bus system is making it easier than ever for customers to plan their rides. In McAllen, Texas – a southern metropolis hugging the Mexican border – the city recently launched a bus tracking app that uses GPS technology to let users know what time a bus will arrive any given stop, down to the minute.
This goes a long way towards increasing accessibility as disabled riders will be able to better plan their trips depending on where the bus is in its route and can keep track of how much time they have to get to the bus stop, essentially cutting down on their wait times.
This app isn’t the first to give riders information about bus schedules, but it’s more advanced than many others currently available. In addition to providing expected stop times and arrival estimates, the application shows riders a city map with routes and stops marked with different colors. Bus locations on each route are also tracked in real time; a rider can see when a bus is in motion and when it has stopped at a pickup point.
The service benefits not only disabled citizens but anyone using the public transportation system in McAllen. In the future, the city plans to add a trip planning feature that will be even more useful to help disabled residents plan out future trips.
The Parking Minimum Debate
In Austin, housing density is becoming an increasingly large problem. The city is testing the waters on a plan to eliminate parking minimums for new developments which would mean there would be no guaranteed parking for new businesses. However, disability rights group Adapt of Texas argues that this would make it more difficult for those with disabilities to get around.
The group states that as many disabled individuals rely on cars to get around, and thus eliminating parking minimums would make newer areas of the city inaccessible for a large group of people. Adapt of Texas is currently fighting for accessibility improvements under CodeNEXT, an $8.5 million project to rewrite the land development code of the city of Austin.
Their progress on this issue might help pave the way for parking minimum enforcement throughout Texas’s urban areas. It’s certainly an issue we’ll see more of as populations continue to increase in urban areas.
Is Uber the Answer?
When budget cuts caused a slash of bus lines in Bell County, one group came up with an unorthodox solution to help its senior and disabled residents. Using a grant for the city of Temple, the Heart of Central Texas Independent Living Center is providing Uber gift cards as a way to help senior residents get around without the bus.
Originally, these gift cards were meant to help residents get to their medical appointments, but the program has since been expanded to include all trips. This might be an option for other cities or towns facing budget cuts so as to promote accessibility for their disabled residents.
Other companies, like RideWith24, works with assisted living and retirement homes to provide on-demand car rides to residents without the need for a smartphone. Riders simply call a number and an operator orders the ride for them. The company promises pickups within 10-15 minutes of the initial call. RideWith24 currently provides services in various cities throughout the US.
Services like RideWith24 are also available to disabled folks needing rides as they offer easier access to much-needed transportation services. Be it a trip to the market, a ride to a friend’s house, or a stop at the supermarket, the service is available to anyone needing assistance.
While much about these programs is up in the air, these developments are important news for disabled Texas residents. With any luck, progress in Texas will inspire an overall increase in accessibility throughout the nation.