A local mother says she's spending night after night worrying about her son who is using paratransit. It's a wheelchair accessible ride service for those in our community who have a disability preventing them from getting to regular bus routes. They're supposed to be operating on a schedule, but she says her son often gets home more than an hour late.
Jon Fisher will be 36-years-old on Monday. He's been working at Pepsi for 11 years now.
"He's a great worker, they love him," his mother Lynne said. "He loves being there."
His other great love is power lifting for the Special Olympics. He relies on Paratransit to get him to both.
"He has six rides a week," Lynne said.
And while Jon and his mother are so appreciative for the service, they say lately it's caused them stress.
"They have from 7:30 to 8:00, that half hour window, I have no problem with that," she said. "It's when it goes beyond that half hour window. Sometimes they are waiting until 8:30 to even get a van to pick him up."
Lynne says of Jon's six weekly rides, she estimates four are late, two of which are by more than an hour.
"Then once they get on the van, sometimes it's a full hour and 45 minutes until he's home," she said.
Lynne's left worried sick.
"I'm frantic," she said.
KHQ immediately reached out to Paratransit officials, and they recognized they could have done better for Jon and his family.
They say, “Spokane Transit’s mission is to be a source of pride for the region – and we recognize we could have done better for John and his family. Since we became aware of the evening and weekend service delays in our Paratransit division, we’ve taken immediate action to course correct. Our priority solution involves software enhancements to auto-generate more efficient trip plans, but in the meantime, we have our Paratransit van operators, supervisors and dispatchers working overtime to make sure we are living up to our mission and the needs of our customers who take nearly 1400 trips per day. We do provide a digital tracking website called Mobi-Link, so customers and their families can plan for the unexpected during weather, construction and general traffic delays. Our staff is happy to demonstrate the app for John’s mother, and any Paratransit customer, family member or caretaker, to help provide real-time information whenever it is needed.”
They say, that immediate action includes,
- Advancing software enhancements as fast as possible ahead of schedule
- Providing overtime resources to prevent delays until the software and other solutions are available
- Additional customer education about how Paratransit service works, how to track trips, and how to communicate concerns with STA
Lynne said that's all she wanted, to know changes were in the works not only for Jon, but all the Paratransit passengers.