I previously blogged about my experience with the Wausau Area Transit System (WATS). I want to write specifically about the Metro Ride Paratransit Service that the Wausau Area Transit System (WATS) offers its citizens with disabilities. This is a very valuable service to those with limited access to transportation.
During my tour of the WATS main garage, Peter Burek (Metro Ride Operations Manager) pointed out the Paratransit Buses. You may be asking yourself, “What is a paratransit bus?” Paratransit buses are smaller wheelchair accessible buses specifically designated for individuals with disabilities and their caregivers.
Mr. Burek asked if I would like to go into one to see how it would work out for me. Of course, I agreed! If I qualify, this will be another transportation option for me until I am set with a new van.
The Metro Ride Paratransit buses are equipped with a hydraulic lift. After positioning my chair several times (my driving still needs work!) and a few jolts, I was smoothly lifted into the air and rolled onto the bus!
The bus looks small from the outside, but that is an illusion! The inside was super roomy! It was easy to back my chair into one of two wheelchair spots. There are tie downs for each chair spot. Tie downs are essentially seat belts for wheelchairs!
Window placement for wheelchair users is important. The windows in the Metro Ride Paratransit bus are huge and the view was spectacular! Due to being a wheelchair user and having a visual impairment, it is rare that I get the opportunity to not have my view obstructed or my obstructing the view of others.
Like the Metro Ride fixed route buses, there was more than enough space to go up and down the aisle. There are several rows of seats as well for caregivers and guests.
The Metro Ride Paratransit Service provides origin to destination pick-up and drop off. This means the bus picks you up at your origin and drops you off at your destination directly. The cost is $2.25 each time you board the bus. Guest fares are also $2.25. A caregiver rides at no cost.
To qualify for this service, an individual must meet one of two eligibility standards. The applicant must have a disability which prevents them from navigating the fixed route system without assistance from another individual or the applicant must have a disability which prevents them from traveling to the bus stop. There is also a medical verification form which a physician must fill out and sign.
Unfortunately, like the fixed bus routes, the Metro Ride Paratransit Service is only available Monday thru Friday, 6:30am to 6:30pm. There is no weekend service. Additionally, the service area only covers ¾ of a mile outside of the regular bus route.
Once I am approved, I know my first paratransit trip will be to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum! I am unable to travel up the steep hill to get there. The Metro Ride paratransit system opens many opportunities and experiences in Wausau for individuals with disabilities.
An application for the Metro Ride Paratransit Service can be picked up at the Metro Ride office at 420 Plumer Street in Wausau. The contact phone number is 715-842-9287. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have a bus system in your town, call and ask if there is a paratransit option. If not, ask what can be done to bring one to your area. Physical disabilities can be very isolating. It is important for all individuals to be a part of the community.
Until next time, Keep Rollin’ and Keep Smilin’!
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