Governor DeWine has signed into law an amendment that will help end TARTA’s long struggle to expand its services county-wide and repeal the current property levies in favor of sales tax funding. For people with disabilities living in the Toledo community, the expansion of public transit would be a life-changing event many years in the making.
According to a 2017 study, public transportation is the number one challenge for people with disabilities seeking to live independently in Ohio. Many disabilities prevent people from driving, so even if they can afford a car, most people with disabilities are reliant on public transit to get around. Where there is no public transit, like in areas of Lucas County, people with disabilities have to rely on family and friends; piecemeal rides available under public benefits; and other unreliable methods of transit.
At the Ability Center, we hear from people with disabilities who cannot get to the University of Toledo; St. Charles Hospital; or out for shopping trips because of a lack of public transit where they live. For those who cannot drive, a comprehensive public transit network means the difference between staying home and going grocery shopping; getting an education; or having a reliable way to get to work. The disability community has been working with TARTA to try to expand public transit county-wide for at least a decade.
Now we have our chance.
It is time for our Toledo community to realize that there is no real independence for people with disabilities until we have a comprehensive, multi-modal public transit system that covers our entire region, and that such a system is also necessary for us to remain economically competitive. Our region is stronger if more people can get to school, work, medical care, and shopping.
The new law changes the process for getting the expansion of public transit onto the ballot. Because of this, it more likely than ever that Lucas County voters will actually get a chance to decide whether TARTA should expand county wide. I am hopeful our region will rise to the challenge. As always, the Ability Center will be there to support this push, and I am excited our new chapter begin.
Written by Katherine Hunt Thomas,
Director of Advocacy and Attorney for The Ability Center